Written by Shirley Asiedu


It’s like trying not to be racist but you see Diane Abbott on the TV, and you’re just like … you just want to hate all black women because she’s there. And I don’t hate all black women at all, but I think she should be shot.” The last four words hit the hardest as they echo away.


These were Mr Hester’s words. Harmful and hurtful to 70-year-old Diane Abbott who is single and now living in fear, as well as women and ethnically diverse people across the country and beyond (yes, even The New York Times is talking about this).


There are comments across the community expressing that these people are scared. This needs to be openly and transparently dealt with.



The worrying content of the statement – the key words used to build it:  Hate. Black. Women. She should be shot.


Of course, various analyses have already been carried out with some holding back on calling a spade a spade; this was a racist statement. Not only is it racist, but also a verbal attack on a woman in her 70s.  A little case study about intersectionality.


There’s a danger that Frank Hester’s comments are close to being swept under the carpet with calls for “space for forgiveness”.  He has reportedly apologised for making “rude” comments.  Just pause for a second…  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, rude = Unmannerly, uncivil, impolite; offensively or deliberately discourteous. Forgiveness, yes. But “rude” is not all that this was.


If we want to soften the crime, at the very least, Mr Hester’s comments have demonstrated a microaggression – a subtle, often unintentional, form of prejudice which often takes the shape of an offhand comment, an inadvertently painful joke, or a pointed insult (to paraphrase Psychology Today’s definition). Sadly, it’s comments like this that continue to exist in our society today, uttered or expressed through actions that are hurtful, upsetting, distressing and cruel.


But we’re not going to call it microaggression. We’re going to go back to calling it what it is – racism.


So, what is being done about this racism?

Has Mr Hester really thought about how his comments may have affected Ms. Abbott?  Or has he been forced to apologise?  Hopefully (dare I wish, positively) there have been lessons learned that it is never okay to attack a person for who they are.


So, what is being done about this racism?

Sounds like Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called it out but there are divisions within the Tory Party with some defending Mr Hester and his comments.  This is a clear opportunity for those who call themselves allies to become active allies.


So, what is being done about this racism?

With mounting pressure, the powers that be are gradually changing their original narrative accepting that the remarks were not just unacceptable but actually racist. But there is the question of the donor money… Should this be returned?


All eyes are on you, Mr Sunak – PMQs.  What will you say? Will you rise up to the moment and show actions (not just words) that should address the fears of the community affected?  Will you avoid the carpet and fix this issue once and for all, silencing the opposition?


Race Equality Matters’ thoughts are with Diane Abbott and all those affected by these events.


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