Anger at BBC over 'do black people like fried chicken' video

Viewers express anger after video commemorating Black History Month focuses on 'racist stereotype'

Benjamin Kentish@BenKentish
Tuesday 01 November 2016 16:40
Anger at BBC Newsbeat over asking 'do black people like fried chicken?'

The BBC has been accused of “unbelievable racism” and “perpetuating stupid stereotypes” after publishing a video asking: “Is it true all black people like chicken?”

The video, which was released on the last day of Black History Month, features a number of young people discussing a stereotype about black people eating fried chicken.

The BBC Newsbeat account initially tweeted: “Black people and fried chicken – is there any truth in it?”.

The original tweet was deleted after a social media backlash and replaced with one that said: “We’re talking about being black and British & the stereotypes you might face, like this one?”

In the video, a white man is filmed saying: “Loads of black people I know love chicken…There’s a stereotype but it’s true”.

A black girl points out: “It’s not the only food that we eat”.

Two white girls then claim that “black girls” they know eat lots of chicken because “apparently it makes your bum bigger”.

“Certain cartoons and films have played on that stereotype”, adds one man.

Social media users slammed the BBC for producing the video and for refusing to take it down despite the angry response.

One woman tweeted: “This was unbelievably racist. Why treat a racist stereotype like some kind of reasonable discussion point? What for”

Another said: “This is repulsive. BBC Newsbeat exploiting racist and dehumanising anti-Black stereotypes to attract clicks”.

One user accused the BBC of “just perpetuating stupid stereotypes”.

Others suggested the tweet was a sign of a lack of diversity amongst BBC staff, claiming a more diverse workforce would have deemed the video inappropriate before it was released.

Other social media users complained the video was still being advertised on the Newsbeat Twitter page, saying the BBC seemed “hell bent on keeping their racist stereotypical post up”.

The subtitles on the video also appear to misquote some of the contributors. When one girl talks about the “stigma” surrounding the stereotype of black people "only wanting to eat a certain brand of chicken from a certain restaurant", the BBC subtitles change the word “stigma” to “thing”.

The clip was made as part of a series of short films produced for Black History Month. Other discussion topics include “Is it ever OK for white people to use the n-word?” and “The myths around swimming and being black”.

A BBC spokesperson told The Independent: "These short films show young people from various backgrounds discussing their experiences of dealing with different stereotypes, which accompanies a wider documentary looking at racism in the UK.”

Others also defended the video. Adil Ray, who writes and features in BBC sitcom Citizen Khan, said: “How is it any way racist to discuss a stereotype? Stereotypes that we as a society form from what we know."

The BBC has come under fire in recent months for a perceived lack of diversity both on and off screen. Actor Lenny Henry, Labour MP David Lammy and former Equalities and Human Rights Commission chair Trevor Phillips have all condemned the corporation's failure to attract more ethnic minority employees and actors.

Just 12 per cent of BBC staff are black, Asian of minority ethnic (BAME) – well below the BBC’s own target of 14.2 per cent.

Earlier this year Henry branded the BBC “very, very white” and said it is an “oppressive institution”.

“I worked at the BBC for 35 years before I had a meeting with anyone who looks like me.”, Henry told the Sunday People.

“The only people like me were cleaning the corridors, and that is not right."

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments