I’m black, I love Radio 4, and I don’t want to be patronised

imageI’m a black British (mixed-race) Londoner, and that’s precisely the reason I love Radio 4. If I want ragga music, grime or grammatically tortuous inane patois, I can easily tune into a myriad of local pirate radio stations, or even into the BBC’s very own Radio 1Xtra – the official “yoof” black music station, which specialises in moronic “street” drivel set to the latest syncopated beats.

We should remember that, as much as I would like to hear more non-white talent and ethnic minority interest stories on Radio 4, we still live in a country which is 94 per cent white. For better or for worse, I happily accept that.

As part of the “under-served audience” that the BBC Trust refers to in its recent controversial report, I for one would actually prefer to hear more (in fact, any) programmes on titans of culture such as Boethius, Petrarch or Gibbon, as opposed to West African female genital mutilation or race riots in Bradford.

The critique of Radio 4 by the Trust is predictably yet another example of acute white liberal post-colonial guilt. The problem, if we are painfully honest, lies in the palpable lack of an educated black British middle class in this country. Ours here, unlike America, is unfortunately nascent. Sadly, Oxbridge-educated ethnic minority people, be it Kwasi Kwarteng MP or teacher  Katharine Birbalsingh, are still anomalies, not the norm.

In my immediate circle of black friends, we all listen to Radio 4. We wake up to John Humphrys and end our days listening to the Book at Bedtime. We enjoy Excess Baggage or the grandiloquent pomposity of the mightily bouffant Bragg on In Our Time just as much as (and often more than) the worthy “ethnic” programmes featuring Sarfraz Manzoor or Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

Are we ethnic minorities really being so chronically “under-served” on Radio 4? Despite the claims of bien pensant commentators, I don’t think so.

Thankfully there is no such thing as apartheid in this country. People of whatever hue and whatever background are free to go wherever they please – even the countryside! – and are equally free to tune their radios and listen to whatever station they desire.

Condemning Radio 4 for principally reflecting the core audience demographic of middle England is like denigrating Africa for having too many black people. Absurd, deeply misguided and, quite frankly, risible.

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