'UK charity offering media jobs to UK’s ethnic minorities: Blatant racism or rightful move?'

Pedestrians walk through the Chinatown district of London. © Luke MacGregor
A media job ad white people cannot apply for has sparked a debate in the UK. But what’s wrong with giving ethnic minorities a helping hand? What sort of reaction should be expected from the British public?

Michael Raddie, co-editor of BSNews.info and David Vance, political commentator discussed this issue with RT.

A British company has sparked a backlash over its controversial offer of placements at entertainment and media outlets, including the BBC. 'Creative Access', registered as a charity, is offering paid internships to UK citizens. However, only Britons from ethnic minorities can apply for the jobs.

RT has requested an explanation from the BBC and is expecting a reply. RT also reached out to ‘Creative Access.’ The company says it is specifically targeting a group of the British population that is 'under-represented' in the media sector.

RT: David, if that's really the case then what's wrong with giving minorities a shot at a few internships?

David Vance: I think it’s wrong on several levels. First of all, most obviously, it is wrong to discriminate against anybody on the basis of their skin color. It is incredible that this is exactly what the BBC and Creative Access seek to do. At that level it is fundamentally wrong. The second thing is – it is fundamentally insulting to those people from ethnic minorities, because it implies that the only basis on which they can get a role in the media is if white people are excluded from applying for the same roles. So it is wrong on every front.  

RT: Michael, some critics say 'Creative Access' is essentially promoting a policy of affirmative action, otherwise known as positive discrimination. But it is prejudice, isn’t it? 

Michael Raddie: We have to remember that the company is a charity. This is so crucial. I wouldn’t even call it a job – it is an internship that is partly funded by the charity. We wouldn’t claim a healthy person [has] declared himself not benefiting from Macmillan cancer research charity. That would just be incredibly insane, wouldn’t it? And it is exactly the same thing here. If it wasn’t a charity, if it was the BBC advertising for the position themselves, then fair enough, that would be slightly different. That would be classed as racism and rightly so. But in the case of a charity that wants to increase the numbers of people from ethnic minorities into the media with the aim, I guess, of providing them all reflective media presence in the country – that has to be commended.  

RT: According to RT research, this organization calls itself a charity, but it is partially funded by taxpayers’ money. So that means that the white majority of the UK is paying for the internships that they can’t even apply for. What’s your take on that Michael?

MR: But they could apply for other internships. They just can’t apply via the Charity – that is the point. There are a lot of internships advertised by the BBC themselves. This particular internship or program is advertised by the charity, funded by the charity. The charity is not breaching any laws in this country.

DV: What Mike has just said is wrong. Fifty percent of the funding does come from the BBC. The so-called charity is not funding the entire cost of the internship. So 50 percent of it is coming from the BBC. Therefore, the BBC has a responsibility not to discriminate against people on the color of their skin. Furthermore, as regards this charity, isn’t it interesting, the chief executive of this charity stood for the Labor Party in the recent parliamentary election? So I would suggest that what we have here is the liberal elite through Labor, and in this case the BBC is seeking perversely in 2016 to tell someone they cannot apply for a job, because of their skin color. Isn’t it just blatant racism? 

RT: David, this has been going on for a long time, hasn’t it?

DV: Yes, but here is the thing: the 2010 Equalities Act specifically rules out being able to discriminate against anybody for a job on the basis of the color of their skin. That it is absolutely reasonable to try and encourage people from all backgrounds to apply for a job, to actively then stop one particular group is unlawful. I am surprised that the BBC shouldn’t end up in court, because what it is doing to my mind is indirect contradiction of the 2010 Equalities Act.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.