tue 22/09/2020

The Talk, Channel 4 review - coping with the legacy of racism | reviews, news & interviews

The Talk, Channel 4 review - coping with the legacy of racism

The Talk, Channel 4 review - coping with the legacy of racism

Black Britons discuss their personal struggles against prejudice

Gillian Joseph with her daughter Tiwa Adebayo

Shall we talk about racism? Currently we seem to be talking about it all the time, and it’s the question non-white parents in Britain sooner or later find themselves pondering as they watch their children grow up in our increasingly confrontational society.

Shall we talk about racism? Currently we seem to be talking about it all the time, and it’s the question non-white parents in Britain sooner or later find themselves pondering as they watch their children grow up in our increasingly confrontational society. For this Channel 4 film, director Geoff Small had assembled a cross-section of notable black and mixed race personalities, and let them describe their often conflicted emotions.

Some took a pragmatic approach. Writer Gary Younge long ago took the view that “racism exists, you are going to have to navigate it.” He considers that teaching his own son about the threat is vastly preferable to burying him or visiting him in prison. Some feared that giving their kids “the talk” about racist attitudes would leave them scarred and demoralised, but actor Lennie James and musician Tinie Tempah argued that “we need to arm our kids with what they need.”

Sky News presenter Gillian Joseph reckoned that telling your children was bad, but not talking about it was worse: “The sad thing is that you have to rob your children of their innocence to some extent at quite an early age to make them aware of what’s out there.”

What was shocking about Small’s film was how even high-profile artists like Emeli Sandé or Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock are still dogged by the slights and abuse they’ve received over the years. Tears of anger and shame were always close to the surface. TV presenter Rochelle Humes remembered being told she couldn’t go a schoolfriend’s party because she was black, which prompted her to try to scrub her skin off in the bath. Comments like “you’re really pretty for a black girl” stung her back then, and they still hurt now. James remembered how a policeman told him to “shut my n-word mouth” when he was 11.

Many of the participants despaired of ever seeing a genuine level playing field, but Efe Itoje, the Nigerian father of England rugby star Maro Itoje (both pictured above), delivered the most inspirational advice – “don’t use your race as an excuse, you’ve got to be the best at whatever you do.” On the other hand, Gary Younge recalled a more pessimistic mantra he’d often been told – “it’s always going to be twice as hard for you to go half as far.” This was a sharp and salutary insight into what living with prejudice means.

TV presenter Rochelle Humes remembered being told she couldn’t go a schoolfriend’s party because she was black

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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