BBC runs into trouble with documentary on black men

Ethnic minority campaigners have called on the BBC to scrap a controversial documentary addressing whether young black men in Britain are facing a crisis.

Ethnic minority campaigners have called on the BBC to scrap a controversial documentary addressing whether young black men in Britain are facing a crisis.

In The Trouble With Black Men: a polemic, due to be screened on BBC3 tonight, the black journalist David Matthews investigates the problems suffered by Afro-Caribbean boys in the education system.

In two subsequent documentaries, he considers the links between black youth and crime, and the sexual stereotype of the black man as a well-endowed Lothario unable to commit to a long-term relationship and likely to be an absent father.

Members of the black community and leading black newspapers have accused the BBC of reinforcing racial stereotypes while failing to present adequate solutions.

Ligali, a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for equality for African British people, has written to the BBC asking the corporation not to show the three-part series. Toyin Agbetu, a spokesman for Ligali, said the first programme in the series "realised our worst fears". He added: "It's unbalanced. They had a six-minute section on solutions in a 52-min-ute programme - 12 per cent.

"All it did was reinforce negative stereotypes. It's a waste of licence fee payers' money. The title is deeply offensive. The equivalent would be The Trouble With Asian Men, a programme about terrorists, or The Trouble With White Men, a programme about paedophiles. It refers to all black men, there's no limitation to that title."

Michael Eboda, the editor of the leading black newspaper New Nation, said the BBC was still failing ethnic minorities, more than three years after Greg Dyke admitted that the corporation was "hideously white". He added: "The majority of people in this country don't know any minority ethnic people. When you do programmes such as this, it is the only idea those people will have of what black people are like. It's just wrong."

In an editorial, The Voice, another prominent black newspaper, said the documentary "exploits the racist stereotype of black men as promiscuous, lazy and obsessed with rap".

"At a time when the police admit that the stop and search of black people is at an all-time high and when black deaths in custody are in the headlines again, this programme is inappropriate,'' the newspaper said.

"Black men are also licence fee payers and deserve programmes that don't insult them."

The BBC, which last year met its target of employing 10 per cent of its staff from ethnic minorities, hit back at the criticisms. Celia Taylor, commissioning executive on the programme , said it was a response to "compelling statistics", such as Afro-Caribbean boys being three times more likely than white boys to be excluded from school.

She admitted that the programme's title was "provocative'' but said the BBC ran it past the Commission for Racial Equality before going ahead. Ms Taylor added that the BBC had shown many "incredibly positive and aspirational'' programmes about black people, as well as exposing institutional racism in the undercover documentary The Secret Policeman.

She said: "[The] statistics raised the question, what on earth was going on with young black men? If you don't ask the questions, how do we start addressing these issues?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

£22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

Guru Careers: Account Executive / Account Manager

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive / Account Manager is ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Media Account Writers

£12000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This social media management pr...

Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor (Magazine Publishing) - Wimbledon - £23-26K

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor - Wimbledon...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones