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Jon Snow: No apology needed after 'white people' comment

PICTURED: Jon Snow

CHANNEL 4 is an embarrassment to its main news presenter Jon Snow.

It is disgraceful that they apologised for his comment that he had never seen so many white people protesting outside parliament on no Brexit Day (March 29) last week.

It was a thoroughly legitimate and insightful observation that spoke volumes about this t’ing called Brexit and what it’s all about.

So why apologise? The first rule of being on an outside broadcast is ‘describe what you see’. And that’s what Snow did. He described seeing so many thousands of people – Remainers and Leavers – gathered outside parliament on the day we were supposed to leave the European Union last week, and what he saw was the most amount of white people gathered outside the mother of all parliaments in a multi-cultural city where you really don’t expect to see that many white people or that few black people all assembled and chanting chapter and verse on Europe.

Never seen so many white people? I could have said the same if I was describing some of those NF marches and BNP marches back in the day. Truly. The great battle of Turnpike Lane for example, in 1977.

The National Front had gathered there to march through my endz and the Anti-Nazi League had assembled a counter-demonstration. From my vantage point, on a stage that I had mounted in Duckett’s Common on the crossroads of Turnpike Lane, I could have said I had never seen so many white people gathered on that road. I could have also said I had never seen so many union jacks with sharpened flagpoles ready to be used as spears against us.

From the NF point of view, they would have perhaps said they had never seen so many whites and ‘coloureds’ gathered in strength against them. So what’s wrong with pointiing out the blooming obvious – that Brexit is all-white for some, but not for others. Indeed, it’s all wrong for many people.

For one thing, it’s not about us. With the sole exception of the multi-millionairess Gina Miller, who used her own money to take the government to task on a procedural point of law, Brexit has been largely an all-white affair, whether it is on television or in the pubs.

You don’t hear about Brexit in the rum bars that prop up the Caribbean associations and their domino tournaments.

You don’t hear about Brexit in the pattie shops and the many other Caribbean takeaways there are from John O’Groats to Land’s End. And how many times have you seen a black person invited on to the likes of Question Time or the Today programme, being quizzed as to their point of view on Brexit?

As I say, with the exception of Miller, we are not invited to discuss the so-called big affairs of State. It’s like we’re being told that Brexit has nothing to do with us. Even Miller’s intervention, which has turned out to be the most crucial of all twists and turns in this saga, seems somewhat incongruous.

Even my white friends are wondering what’s this black chick doing on the Brexit or no-Brexit panel, and who is she anyway? Meanwhile, during the time that our politicians have been in fighting over Brexit and telling us that it is the most important thing ever, on the real streets, where the most important thing ever is safeguarding the lives of our children, teenagers are dying from the scourge of knife crime.

Now, Snow might be forgiven for saying (unscripted): “I’ve never seen so many black yutes dead from knife crime” in the same way as he said: “I’ve never seen so many white people protesting about Brexit”.

I wonder if Channel 4 would have felt they had to apologise about that. After all, is that not the truth? Is that not what we are all thinking – we’ve never seen so many black youths dead from knife crime. We’ve never seen so many black youths serving life for knife crime.

I do hope that this does not come across as vulgar. I do not wish to cause more pain for
those families who have suffered as a result of knife crime. If you have lost a child because of a stabbing, you must be feeling wretched enough already without me having to make a comparison between knife crime and Brexit.

And yet, the juxtaposition, if not the comparison, is there, in those few words of Snow that speak so many volumes: while so many white people have been swept up by this Brexit stuff that they have even put on their walking shoes and walked from Sunderland to London as if Brexit was more important than hundreds of children dying on our streets annually.

How many children have been stabbed to death while the Prime Minister has been occupied by Brexit? Count how many. Then tell me if this Brexit is a price worth paying.

Brexit is not more important than one child dying on our streets and yet, our hapless Prime Minister has nothing to say on the matter. Should she not be saying: “I’ve never seen so many children dying on our streets – black or white.”

Is that not the leadership that real people need at this crucial time. In- stead, she leaves it to one of her cabinet, the Home Secretary Sajid Javid, to decide that the police should be given a free reign to stop and search virtually whoever they want, with or without prejudice.

FAITH

That is essentially how these new stop and search Section 60 rules do not protect any of our children from the excesses of some police officers. There are some of cers that we cannot trust to use stop and search without prejudice, and until those protections are in that ensure that it will be used ‘discriminatingly’, the black community will not have faith in it.

No more than those who voted for Brexit in the referendum have faith in the system to deliver what they thought they were voting for.

Far from apologising for its top news presenter’s comments that the Brexit demonstrations outside parliament were an all-white affair, Channel 4 should apologise to Snow for chastising him so publicly in such a ‘scripted’ manner.

Or is it saying that all discussions about race are off the agenda? So much for a broadcaster that was launched as a way of bringing diversity to the wider conversation.

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