So Coronation Street has issued an apology regarding the racist joke that was made during the bank holiday Monday episode when Eva Price said “I have more roots than Kunta Kinte,” in a visit to the hair salon to get her roots retouched. Kunta Kinte was a character from the novel Roots. Based on a real-life ancestor of author Alex Haley, it tells the story of a young man taken from Gambia and sold as a slave. As the majority of white people glee on social media saying, ‘its just a joke, get over it you black people’. I do not believe any black person should be forced to not take offence on something that is clearly very sensitive to them and offensive. The white man is the last person who should tell the black man how to be offended/ or not to be offended about racism. Racism doesn’t affect them in the work place, it doesn’t affect them in the community, it doesn’t affect them in society, they have what is called ‘white privilege’ from birth. So why on earth should the white men be on the fore front in educating black people on how to handle racism?
Ofcom received more than 300 complaints and hundreds more took to social media to express their disgust with what had happened in the Monday episode of the popular soap. Because of the uproar Coronation Street bosses where forced to issue an apology. The insincere apology from Coronation Street and the reaction from the majority of the white people in support of the racist joke has prompted me write this article. I feel there was a malicious motive behind the racist joke. Firstly, dear Coronation Street, if you are going to issue an apology, even if you don’t want to, the rule of apologies is always to make it sound sincere. But sadly, Coronation Street doesn’t seem to understand that rule, so the insults continues even in the supposed apology.
A spokesman for the soap said, “We apologize IF this dialogue has caused offence.”
Its not a matter of IF. The fact is the dialogue has actually caused offence. Great offence. Their “apology” if its to be even called that, has actually proved that the script writers knew exactly what they the were doing when they wrote the racist joke. I thought soaps where supposed to be enlightening and educational, tackling real life issues in the form of drama. You do not joke about issues pertaining to slavery in a soap. This is not something that should not be allowed in 21st Century Britain. Not on a British soap that is watched by millions of people.
What makes it worse is what Eva Price continues to say after the racist joke, “I have no idea who Kunta Kinte is by the way, its just something my mother used to say.” This is literally implying that this is a popular joke white people are comfortable to say to each other, passed from generation to generation without actually knowing who Kunta Kinte was. How insulting and disrespectful to the black history.
Ofcom is still deciding whether to launch an investigation or not. I think they should go ahead and launch an investigation. There is nothing really to decide, is there? What did the script writers intend to achieve with the racist joke? Why do they think it is acceptable in modern day Britain to mock black people? Some of us are raising black children in this country where they face all sorts of obstacles in schools and the community. Now when an influential soap such as Coronation Street think its okay to air racist jokes, they are influencing the general public, and yes a lot of white people are loving this joke. They are literally celebrating on social media. Children in the playground will pick on that and the cycle continues. What are they teaching the children? Sadly Coronation Street is doing its bit in increasing stereotyping and racism towards black people in the UK.
I have to say until Monday, Coronation Street was actually my favorite British soap. I watched every episode with my 12 year old dark skinned beautiful daughter who has gorgeous afro hair. Talking of dark skinned girls with beautiful afro hair, I have always had my questions as to why there are no black people on Coronation Street. When I say black, I am not talking about the mixed race who are half black and half white with fair skin and straight hair, I am talking about 100 percent black, dark skinned, afro hair and all, the Kunta Kinte kind of black. I know they have had one or two dark skinned people here and there over the years, but to my understanding they do not have a stable number of dark skinned characters in the soap.
I don’t watch other British soaps, but I am very much aware that they have black families in other soaps. I am under the impression that Coronation Street is probably the only British soap that does not have a Black family in it. Which is very ironic considering the soap is shot in Manchester, which is the third city in England with the largest Ethnic minority community, 8.9% of it being the black community. However according to Coronation Street, dark skinned people do not exist in England. That is the picture they paint. No wonder they feel they can easily mock and insult black people in their “very white” soap. Yes I know there an Asian family in the soap, but Asian people are not black people. We are addressing black people not Asian people.
Like I said, what I found very disturbing, but not surprising was that most white people commenting on the issue on social media do not find anything wrong with the racist Kunta Kinte joke, especially in the daily mail article. In fact they added more racist jokes to the comments section. “It’s just a joke, its not even racist, get a life”, says the racist white man openly. They are obviously the people behind the ongoing racism today, and they are millions of them in the UK. They are just lacking the platform to be openly racist and mock black people. So when Coronation Street pulls a racist stunt like this, the true picture that racism is rife in modern Britain today comes out. They have all come out of the woodwork, the racist trolls who thrive on moments like this. To them they think mocking black people is just but a big joke. They think black people are overreacting. Of course you don’t see anything offensive; racism and slavery never offended you in the first place. Racism does not affect you in modern Britain.
So please stop telling the black race that they should not be offended by something which is clearly offensive to them. We are working very hard for a racist free Britain for our children, we do not need soaps to promote something we are fighting so hard to eradicate. With everything that is going in the world where black people are being killed for simply being black, this is not the time for a British soap to insult our painful history. To be fair, there are also a good number of white people who were offended by the joke, not all white people are racist. There were also a very few black people in the minority who thinks the joke was perfectly okay and very funny indeed. And for the record, the most closest friends I have had in my life have been white, and they too feel the same about racism as I do.
I remember some time last year, I also watched an episode in Coronation Street where Bethany Platt made a racist comment about Beyonce’s hair in the same salon where the Kunta Kunte saga happened. It looks like the Coronation Street hair salon is a haven for insulting black people, especially our hair. Maybe if Coronation street bosses knew a bit about Black History, they would not feel so comfortable to keep insulting the black race. One of the main reasons why black women wear weaves today is because of slavery and colonization. Before slavery the black woman wore her afro hair with pride, often braided and plaited, which took an awful amount of time to groom and maintain. For the black woman, hair was not just hair, it was her identity, until the white man shaved off her hair and made her feel like her hair was not good enough, even though it is the most beautiful of all hair types. We, black women were stripped off our identity, but slowly we are waking up to the deception and we are learning to embrace our beautiful hair again. So Coronation Street, next time you are penning scripts for the Wetherfield Hair Salon, be sensitive and please leave our hair out of it. Thank you.
I have a suggestion for you Coronation Street bosses, instead of issuing lame apologies for being racist and aiding racism, if you are really sorry, maybe its about time you include a black family in your soap. Aren’t soaps supposed to be about families? There are a lot of black families in the UK, especially in Manchester. Learn about their culture, just like you did with the Asian family. And when I say black, I mean black like Sarah Baartman if you have ever heard of her. I mean black like Kunta Kinte. You should also have people like that in your soap, then maybe you will convince us, black people, that you have nothing against us. Why not turn this rather distasteful situation into a positive one and do your part in eradicating the stigma, prejudice and racism of the black race in UK .
If you don’t want black people in the soap, that’s fair enough, we can not force you, but stop using our history of pain and suffering in your twisted jokes to increase viewing ratings or for whatever other motives. Us, the Black people of Britain will not tolerate any offensive distasteful degrading racist comments that are made at our expense for the benefit of the British entertainment industry. If you do not want us in the soap, no need to go the extra mile and offend us. I write this article representing the black people who watch/or used to watch Coronation Street, its not a matter of if you have offended us. You have offended us, and a sincere apology will be most appreciated, with reassurance that this type of racism will not happen again on the soap. We will not sit around and accept an IF apology. Black History Matters. It is not to be made into tasteless jokes on national TV.