With Nadiya, Tamal and Ian competing against each other in the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) final, not only are we set for a tense evening of food porn, but also a moment of pride. The three finalists are emblematic of the successful multi-racial, multi-faith democracy of which we can all be proud.
Well, almost all of us. For some all this diversity seems to be too much. Take the Daily Mail columnist Amanda Platell, who recently took umbrage at Tamal’s sexuality, Nadiya’s religion, and Ian’s all-round loveliness. “Now we’re down to the final three, it’s certainly a PC triumph,” she wrote. “We are left with Muslim mum Nadiya Hussain, gay doctor Tamal Ray, and New Man Ian Cumming. Poor Flora Shedden never stood a chance. She was far too middle class — and was booted off this week after her chocolate carousel was deemed sub-standard. Perhaps if she’d made a chocolate mosque, she’d have stood a better chance.”
Platell hasn’t been the only one unimpressed by the final’s line-up. “England is a joke im watching the grate british bake off and one of those muslim women just won best cake what hapened to this country [sic]” one person tweeted last week. “Typical BBC. ticking all the ethnic boxes,got a muslim on the great “British” Bake off [sic]”, tweeted another. And they weren’t alone. Apparently, having a group of talented people who happen to fairly represent a diverse society can only mean one thing: it’s all a sham.
For anyone who doesn’t like the diversity of the GBBO final, and thinks that the contestants are only there because of “political correctness”, I would ask one question: why are you still here? If you don’t like diversity, then Britain is one of the last places you want to be. Although to be honest it sounds like you could benefit by simply moving somewhere a bit less white. According to research from Oxford University, living in diverse areas makes us more tolerant.
As someone with a great circle of friends of all races and religions, it leaves me baffled when anyone expresses a nostalgic longing for PC-free days. You know, the good old days when you could make offensive remarks about someone’s identity and not be called out on it. One of the funniest things is that those who are against political correctness often think they’re being patriotic, and preserving some sort of British ideal. But if there were such a thing as the “British values” that David Cameron always talks about (and uses to try and smear Muslims like myself), wouldn’t one of them be tolerance?
It makes me proud that my generation is working towards creating a more inclusive society that celebrates diversity, and the GBBO final is just one sign of that. We now have more BME MPs sitting in Parliament than ever before. Gay marriage is not just legal, but widely celebrated. H&M’s latest marketing campaign featurs a Muslim woman in a hijab, which would have been unimaginable a decade ago.
That’s not to say that Britain is perfect. People are still discriminated against for their ethnicities, sexualities and religions. Just this week, the nation watched on BBC Three as someone told me to “fuck off back to [my] own country” – whatever that means. (I had gone undercover on the show Is Britain Racist?, and upset someone with my clothes.) And in this year alone, homophobic crimes have gone up by a third, according to Scotland Yard.
But what is clear is that these hateful attitudes are on their way out. If you look at the shift in public attitudes over the last few decades, and how much more tolerant we’ve become as a society, the momentum towards equality would seem to be unstoppable. It will just take time and a bit more effort.
Maybe those who don’t like the make-up of the GBBO final are just scared of change. But when society is changing for the better, and becoming more representative, these people will only ever be wrong. There are no shades of grey when it comes to equality.
The GBBO finalists are a microcosm of the diverse and tolerant Britain we’d all like to see. If it is all a bit too much for you then not only are you in the wrong country, but you’re in the wrong time. You may feel more comfortable living in somewhere like 1930s Germany.
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