Was it fair of Dave to call Boris Johnson racist?

February 20, 2020

Collage idea by Aya Pfeufer. Images of Dave by SamuelWren98 and of Boris Johnson by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Aya Pfeufer describes how she felt watching rapper perform ‘Black’ at the Brit Awards

David Orobosa Omoregie, known as Dave, is a British rapper who recently performed his song ‘Black’ at the Brit Awards 2020. The song directly expressed issues of racism and inequality through the combination of lyrics, music and visuals.

When I watched Dave’s performance, I felt moved because of how he openly expressed the challenges and inequalities of being black. He highlighted the concerns black individuals face that have been occurring through history and to this present day, perpetuating a cycle of discrimination.

I relate to his perspective as I was able to imagine what it’s like to be accused of or defined as something you are not, such as a violent criminal offender or a threat to society.

In my opinion, he seemed to challenge what ‘racists’ perceive of black people and the typical stereotypes projected towards black people. A line that stood out to me was, “The blacker the killer, the sweeter the news.”

This created an image of how the press has double standards when it comes to black and white people in society.

Overall, I felt he expressed that being black comes with strengths and challenges. Dave’s line, “The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice” shows that black people should be proud of themselves and not be ashamed of their heritage.

He mentioned ‘poverty’ and that the difficulties he has faced made him perhaps mentally stronger as a person. Overall, I felt like he was trying to get his viewers to empathise and understand the pain and suffering that black people have experienced.

Priti Patel may not consider Boris Johnson to be racist but others may think he is

At the end of Dave’s song, he called the Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson “a real racist”. I found this a very direct and brave comment from Dave.

Even though Dave received a lot of positive feedback from his performance, he also received a backlash. For example, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary defended Johnson stating that Dave’s words are, “utter nonsense” and that she “does not know what those comments are based on.”

Patel may not consider Johnson to be racist but others may think he is, perhaps because he called black people “piccanninies” with “water melon smiles” (both derogatory terms to describe black people). See image below to illustrate why these words can be hurtful.

Reproduction of a tin advertising sign for Picaninny Freeze, (c) 1922

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