Race inequality report: Julia Hartley-Brewer tells black rights campaigner Claudia Webbe 'be honest and say I'm white so can't have an opinion'

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Julia Hartley-Brewer had a heated debate with a leading race campaigner over the Government's race audit report, even daring her interviewee to call her a racist.

Claudia Webbe, a key supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and a former director of the Westminster Race Equality Council, spoke to talkRADIO ahead of the release of a report by the Government today (October 10) which outlines disparity between races in the UK on key issues such as unemployment and home ownership.

Webbe, who now sits on Labour's ruling National Executive Committee, claimed society is riddled with "structural inequalities". She suggested black and minority ethnic women [BME] find themselves "at the bottom of the health system," and find it hard to reach the top in sectors such as the media.

She said: "I think what this [report] highlights is, in all walks of life, it repeats an understanding that we have within black minority ethnic communities that there is racial inequality in all aspects of life. Key areas of public life, where there is meant to be equality, there is not.

"[As well as BME people], working-class white people find there are levels of inequality that affects every aspect of their life and it’s shameful, but it’s all about the kind of structural inequalities that we are faced with in society.

"Meaning that this is about how organisations, whether it’s through their policies, practices and processes, deliver inequality so that the outcome for black minority ethnic communities are to their detriment and not to their betterment.

"What it means is that for, in particular for black women, the intersect of race, gender and poverty combine together to mean that black households in particular are worse off. Black women are disproportionately located at the bottom of the health system and white women at the top.

"There is no proper employment of black minority ethnic people in the media. There is no proper representation in terms of what is delivered about black people when it comes to the media."

Julia argued that "we’re seeing racism when actually it’s just demographics", adding that "it takes a couple of generations for people to work their way up the social class economic ladder."

Webbe hit back by suggesting Julia was "victimising" BME people. The interviewee suggested our presenter was accusing such people of causing their own inequality and "creating their own victimisation."

She continued by saying "it is because we have broadcasters like you" that racial discrimination remains rife in the UK, adding that Julia was "putting out the disinformation that says that black and minority ethnic communities, white working-class people, have created the conditions for their own victimisation.

"I appreciate your limited education might conclude you to come to this position...[But] what [the situation] needs is grown-up broadcasting.

"You cannot continue to demonise black and minority ethnic people, white working-class people, and [suggesting] they are responsible for their own victimisation.

"Either you wake up or say you're not fit to broadcast and you change your tack, because when you get the facts [in the report]... you'll realise that you're part of the problem."

Julia hit back by saying that, unlike Webbe, she didn't judge people on the colour of their skin, adding "why don’t you be honest and say I’m white and therefore I’m not entitled to have an opinion on this?

"You're just not brave enough to say it on air, are you? But it's what you're thinking. [That] unless I sign up to this whole victim mentality for you, I'm a racist."

Listen to the full interview above