ES - Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

By Yasmin Alibhai-Brown | Wed 4 May 2005

Yasmins African taboo

An article written by the British Asian journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown ‘explained’ to Evening Standard readers why her community would want to ‘kill’ the actress Parminder Nagra for making on screen love to an African American. Brown states that whilst sleeping with a European male can be tolerated (Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has a European husband), there is nothing worse than the shame of sleeping with an African.

Evening Standard Article:

The very last taboo
THE striking British-Asian actress Parminder Nagra played the talented young footballer in Bend it Like Beckham, and the world fell in love with her dark, determined eyes and obvious talent. She went on to a major role in ER, the matchless medical series and suddenly the sparkle vanished, Nagra was unsure, dull even.

Suddenly the fire is back, ignited by her screen love affair with a black American. But just as she comes alive many Asians will want to kill her. They didn't like it, but tolerated, her falling for a white lad in Beckham; but making love to a black man? There is nothing worse - the shame and scandal will stalk her. Hope she has a long contract in the US.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Brown asserts that in the British Asian community any physical/sexual relationship with an African person is shameful. In her own words she states ‘there is nothing worse’. Now whilst the sentiment of what Brown has written about Asians may be true, the tone she used was disrespectful and insulting to the African British community.

This is not the first time Brown has shown public disrespect for African people. At the launch of the Home Office racial equality strategy for 2005, a Ligali representative asked her whether she would respectfully refrain from referring to our community as ‘blacks’ by using the word African instead. Brown refused stating that she too was an African woman. When asked whether she referred to her ex Ugandan nationality and queried whether that made her an Asian Ugandan. At this point she claimed to be a ‘black’ woman and went on to explain that there were more letters in African than the word black and that when writing a story, word count matters. She concluded by stating that 'it is my job as as a journalist to offend people'.

It is therefore no surprise to us that Brown has deliberately denigrated an African American to a ‘black’ American and used emotive language to provoke offence by usage of derogatory remarks about relationships with African people. Browns article implies that Parminder's love scene portrayal with African American actor Sharif Atkins vaguely reflects her own reality. Despite the deliberate conflation and obfuscation it does not. ER is fiction, sadly Browns deliberate disrespectful attitude towards African people is fact.

Parminder Nagra (Neela Rasgotra) and Michael Gallant (Sharif Atkins) – ER

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