BBC Host: 'The British Countryside is Racist'
Countryfile star Ellie Harrison says racism in nature must be addressed amid BLM protests
A BBC TV host has claimed that the British countryside "is racist," arguing that more must be done to tackle racism in nature amid worldwide Black Lives Matter protests.
BBC Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison made the remarks after the state-funded network courted controversy by reporting that many minorities see the countryside as a “white environment.”
Writing in the magazine associated with the BBC Countryfile TV show, Harrison said: “In asking whether the countryside is racist, then yes it is; but asking if it’s more racist than anywhere else — maybe, maybe not.”
Harrison was responding to a controversy involving BBC coverage of a government report on the supposed exclusion of minorities from the countryside.
The BBC's report, fronted by fellow presenter Dwayne Fields, drew the ire of many on social media when it claimed that “many in Black, Asian and minority ethnic [BAME] groups see the countryside as being a white environment” on Twitter.
“[J]udging by the thousands of angry responses to the BBC’s race-baiting tweet, there are a lot of people in Britain – both white and non-white – who object very strongly to having the natural landscape used by the BBC as a political football to advance its woke agenda,” reported Breitbart columnist James Delingpole at the time.
The post triggered a debate amongst social media users, which presenter Ellie Harrison said had taken the show's producers a week to pick through, according to The Daily Mail.
While @DwayneFields found solace in the landscapes of the UK and beyond, many in Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups see the countryside as being a white environment #countryfile pic.twitter.com/kjma7FuGps— BBC Countryfile (@BBCCountryfile) June 28, 2020
Writing in the BBC Countryfile magazine, Harrison said: "I spooled through the comments, which broadly came in three flavours: 'I'm not racist so there is no racism in the countryside'; 'I'm black and I've never experienced racism in the countryside'; and importantly, 'I have experienced racism in the countryside'.
"So there's work to do. Even a single racist event means there is work to do.
"In asking whether the countryside is racist, then yes it is; but asking if it's more racist than anywhere else - maybe, maybe not."
Harrison said that growing up in rural Gloucestershire, there was one black pupil at her school who she said was "worshipped" for being "handsome, sporty and brainy."
But now she wonders if that may not have been his experience.
And she says that since the worldwide Black Lives Matter riots earlier this year, she has had an epiphany in terms of her own behavior.
The broadcaster says she now realizes she needs to do more to challenge and confront prejudice.
"Until this point, I believed ignorantly, that me being not racist was enough," she writes.
"I believed that I should keep quiet and listen to black people.
"That because I read and loved every Alice Walker book as a teenager, have watched Oprah every day since I was a youngster...it wasn't my problem.
"There is a big and crucial difference between being not racist and being anti-racist.
"At times in the past, I have given measured and polite replies to people - sometimes close to me - who have said racist things.
"But being anti-racist means being much clearer that it isn't acceptable...
"Let the knife and fork squeak uncomfortably over supper."
White people need to do more to understand what black people have gone through, she said.
"It's our individual work to wrap our heads around history," she writes.
"The work also includes recognizing the pain of the past and the lingering ambient racism we don't get to feel.
"It means acknowledging that we have benefited from the past, the behaviors of many generations ago.
"It means noticing that for white people, skin color is not the cause of hardship and suffering, even if our lives haven't been easy.
"It's seeing a problem, even if it isn't a problem to us; asking what the grievances are and listening to what the solution is.
"It's not just protesting about cruelty but being motivated by fairness and making room.
"And far beyond policing, it's about economic equality too."
After the program was aired, a BBC spokesperson told the Mail: "Countryfile based the segment on an independent DEFRA report published last September and we felt it was important to examine such issues now more than ever, particularly in light of recent events."