UK Representation: The Backlash

A recent survey from Channel 4 highlighted that a total of 51% of Black, Asian and other minority ethnic people feel that UK television advertising does not represent different cultures.

In response to the recent resurgence of the black lives matter movement there was a stark increase in black and brown representation in the summer months of 2020 into the winter months. 

But how did the UK feel about this ‘change of pace.’

The Gravy Song was the title of Sainsburys’ 2020 Christmas advert which saw a montage of joyful Christmas memories shared by a black family. 

It was the start of a group of advertisements featuring black and black mixed-race performers enticing consumers in the lead up to Christmas.

It was also the start of a world of controversy. 

‘Not so racist’ Britain finally was owning up to and (in some cases) celebrating their bias.

Some comments even described the advert as  ‘absolutely sickening’.

Others chose to tell Sainsburys exactly what they would have preferred to see by writing comments online like, ‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’ and ‘good advert; looking forward to seeing the UK version.’

Many other white consumers also were quick to point out how adamant they were that Black Britishness could not exist. 

It perpetuated the view that Britishness can be owned and is only determined by your skin tone.

The advert was met with such huge backlash that Sainsburys issued a statement defending their choices.

The fury at hints of rising representation continued with a flurry of comments about one episode of Loose Women with an all-black panel. When being rumoured to replace existing white presenters,  TV presenter Alison Hammond also faced racial abuse online with comments like “Token Black. Disgusting. Hire on merit and capabilities.” 

Some white people were not just upset at the rise in representation but also by the messages famous black people now wanted to present, Black Lives Matter.

When Britain’s Got Talent winners, Diversity dedicated a performance to the movement the Black Lives Matter movement and judge, Alesha Dixon chose to wear a necklace with a BLM pendant – OFCOM, received a whopping 24,500 complaints (highest on record this decade).

The outrage these adverts, appearances and performances ignited, made one thing abundantly clear. 

The UK is still an incredibly racist country and it can no longer be disputed. 

The hangover of colonialism still means the United Kingdom is upheld by white supremacist system and still has a heck of alot more work to do.

Denial is well and truly over.

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