Thursday, 5 January 2012

Diane Abbott learns racist stereotyping isn't a one-way street

Britain’s first black woman MP Diane Abbott blundered into making her racist tweet when she was being bested in a twitter exchange with freelance journalist Bim Adewunmi in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence murder convictions yesterday.
Adewunmi’s account here doesn’t do Abbott any favours; she was unwise to dig her heels in and claim her remarks were taken out of context.
They weren’t. Abbott compounded her poor judgement by the delay in correcting it. Ed Miliband was right to demand she apologise.
As Janet Daley examines here Adewunmi had questioned what exactly the “black community” is and who has the right to speak for it. Abbott appears to be advising the journalist - herself a black woman - not to rock the boat, perhaps feeling her position as a leading spokesperson under fire.
So well within the 140-characters restraint of twitter, Abbott charges “white people” as a race as loving to play “divide & rule.”
Of course this doesn’t make Abbott a racist, although I wouldn’t be happy with the furore if I were one of her white constituents.
But in today’s heightened race debate, someone in Abbott’s position cannot expect to let loose on racial stereotyping and not expect to be held to account.
Until this point I considered Abbott a force for good. She is an ideal role model for the youth of all races in her constituency, the deprived boroughs of Hackney North and Stoke Newington.
I prescribe a spell out of the limelight for the shadow health minister.

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