Politics

The Telegraph and Black Women

 

The Telegraph has excelled itself in this undermining of Black Women with yet another attempt to discredit Jeremy Corbyn. This rather desperate non-story has over-relied upon the black female body by inviting the reader to conjure- up the image of Diane Abbott in bed. The tenuous justification for this relates to a 30-year old moment concerning the conduct of two young people. Since the article acknowledges white men might want to demonstrate their virility by showing off their intimacies with black women and in this case, Jeremy Corbyn, it is difficult to see the relevance of the story. The article pretends to protect Abbott’s modesty by quoting her as saying ‘What the fxxx’s going on?’ in response to being ‘seen’ by other white men. In fact, this blatant disrespect of Abbott is about selling this story through her black body. Corbyn may well have wanted to show off his capacities as a typical young white man but the real story lies in the way the black female body is being used here as a device by which to undermine Abbott as a serious politician. Essentially, we are invited to reimagine in 2016, her sexuality in a way that we would not dream of doing to other politicians. Additionally, as Fanon, reminded us, representations are central to the process of the subjugation of the ‘other’. The article also perniciously begs the question of Diane Abbotts’ legitimacy as a senior politician occupying a space that has historically been the preserve of upper and middle-class white male privilege. In any event, who would like to be publicly reminded of their indiscretions some 30 years past? As a black woman, I am insulted by the ease in which a highly respectable long-standing Member of Parliament can be cheapened in this way. Abbott has never bought her sex life into the public domain indeed to her credit, she has never tried to capitalise on the promotion of her body to sell her politics to anyone – no matter how much some might have preferred that.  And yet, it would appear, her body is still up for sale by the Telegraph? Even at the level of M.P., our black bodies are seemingly not our own. Quite plainly, without the white fascination for the over-sexualisation of black bodies, there is no story here. Yet by undermining Diane Abbott through her black body, this demeans all Black Women and an attack on all Black Women is to disrespect all Women. It is not Corbyn who is in bed with Abbott, it is The Telegraph and its very disturbing readers.
Marlene Ellis

About Marlene

As a scholar-activist, my interests are in race, education, Postcolonial theory, Pan-Africanism and Cultural Studies. These overlap with political identities in gender, social-class and sexualities. As long as I am fighting for justice through policy, theory or practice, I feel aligned with the universe

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