June 5th, 2016

kieth: crazy

In "bears poop in woods" news, unintentional racism is still not benign

Last week* on my London evening I went to BBC Broadcasting House with one of my work colleagues, because I had tickets to a recording of The Museum of Curiosity. The idea behind this radio show is that three eminent guests donate exhibits to the imaginary museum after being interviewed by host John Lloyd and the curator. The curator position rotates between comedians. At the time of this recording, it was Noel Fielding. Phil Jupitus and Sarah Millican have previously curated. The guests on this occasion were another comedian, a composer and an architect.

The show seems to make an effort to have at least one woman as an eminent guest, which is rather nice. Unfortunately, I found the one female guest - the architect - actively cringe-making.

She was the last one of the three guests to be interviewed. It turned out that she had originally trained as a medic and practised for a short while as a GP. Then she went to India to spend a month in a leper** colony on an island, and it was there that she determined that she needed to completely change her career and become an "experimental architect". So she could revolutionise the way Western people live, because all our buildings are "dead" and we're locked into worship of machines and we need to learn from people who can make amazing things out of sticks and shit because they've got nothing else, or something. I don't know. Anyway, she actually didn't say the words, "Desperately poor and ill brown people are, like, so inspiring." Make no mistake, though, that was exactly what she meant. I didn't stand up and scream your racism is unintentional but it is not benign, but believe me, it took every ounce of my strength not to. Instead, I withheld my applause when she concluded. I also left a sardonic review of the event in the survey I was e-mailed after the recording, mentioning that they might want to make an effort to vett their guests for offensively colonial 19th century views.

Sometimes I think I've assimilated into British culture a bit too well.

* I've been wanting to post about this since that evening but every time I sat down to do it, nothing but a stream of incoherent rage would come out. So please don't make the mistake of thinking that, because the tone in this is pretty level, that I'm not still very bloody angry about it.
** I did glean some small amusement when one of the other guests - the composer - gently rebuked her afterward for referring to it as leprosy instead of Hansen's disease.

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