BBC’s Fiona Bruce created an awkward conversation last night after asking the only non-white person on the panel to answer a question on racism first.
The presenter was managing a leading a discussion around cricketer Azeem Rafiq’s experience of racism, harassment and bullying while at Yorkshire Cricket Club.
She asked solicitor Nazir Afzal OBE: “With the revelations from cricket’s Azeem Rafiq and footballers still taking the knee, what does this say about racism in modern day Britain?”
‘Let’s not do it then’
But he appeared surprised that he was the first to be asked to answer, joking: “The brown person will answer first,” before adding: “No disrespect.”
Bruce replied: “Nazir, so do you think that was wrong of me to come to you first?”
“I think so, I think what…” Afzal started answering, before Bruce interrupted him: “Well let’s not do it then”.
She then posed the question to Canadian psychologist and author Jordan Peterson, but before waiting for his answer she turned again towards Afzal: “I’m not being sarcastic at all, I mean if that’s how you feel I respect that.”
But Peterson seemed to make the situation even weirder, by saying the issue needs to be “particularised” and that “racism is a global and vague term” – whilst making a gesture with his hands showing inverted commas.
SNP MP Stephen Flynn asked Peterson what he meant by his gesture.
Peterson said they were “indicative of low-resolution thinking” and tried to explain his thoughts, by saying that the “concept of structural racism is too imprecise and doesn’t address the issue”, while making more hand gestures.
Labour MP Stella Creasy reacted: “Maybe let’s do less of the hand movements and look at the evidence.”
Afzal said people from minority backgrounds are “tired of having to describe how much racism we experience on a daily basis”, and said British sport is based on a “rigged system based on privilege”.
Today, he tweeted his thoughts on the TV discussion.
He said: “I have no criticism of Fiona Bruce.
“I made the point that racism is something which everyone should have a view on, not just minorities.
“If the subject was say child or domestic abuse, you wouldn’t just ask the victim. It’s everybody’s business.”
But other Twitter users were less forgiving of the incident.
One user said: “Nazir Afzal calls out Fiona Bruce for her inbuilt institutional racist bias and she didn’t like it and patched him”
And Gareth Roberts, Richmond Council leader added: “I’ve watched this back a couple of times and Fiona Bruce gets it wrong at every turn.
“Not a hint of contrition, not a hint of self doubt and when she gives a semi-apology, just talks right over Nazir Afzal who wanted to explain what the issue was.”