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DJ Sideman quits 1Xtra following BBC’s use of racist slur

Over 18,600 complaints were made to the BBC following use of the N-word in a recent news report

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Sideman has quit 1Xtra following the BBC’s use of a racist slur in a recent news report. 

The BBC has received over 18,600 complaints over the use of the N-word in a segment about a racially-aggravated attack in Bristol, broadcast by Points West and the BBC News Channel on 29th July. Today (8th August), DJ and presenter Sideman announced via an Instagram video that he would be leaving the station with immediate effect as a result of the incident, stating "I just don't feel comfortable being aligned with the organisation”. The BBC has defended its use of the word in the report in a response to complaints.

In his statement, Sideman said the "action and the defence of the action feels like a slap in the face of our community". "I can't look the other way", he said. "I've thought long and hard about what I'm about to say and what it means and on this occasion I just don't think that I can look the other way."

“We live in a world that needs to change,” he continued. “Systems that need to change, organisations that need to change and as a person that believes that change can happen and wanting change to happen. I understand transition and I understand it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. There will need to be a lot of learning and unlearning and tearing down of certain building blocks of our society that took a long time to build-up. I am ok with process, I am ok with waiting within reason for certain things to change but the BBC sanctioning the N-word being said on National television by a white person is something I can’t rock with.

“This is an error in judgement where I can’t just smile with you through the process and act like everything is ok...I’m happy working with organisations until we all get it right, but this feels like more than getting it wrong."

“Money and opportunity doesn’t outweigh the dissatisfaction that I feel with this situation. This is wild to me, especially in the current social climate, and I can’t make any sense of it no matter how much I think about it. So I think that’s it’s time that I left.”

Listen to Sideman’s full statement below, via Instagram.

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by David “Sideman” Whitely (@sidemanallday) on Aug 8, 2020 at 7:09am PDT

In response to Sideman's departure from the station, a spokesperson for 1Xtra has released a statement: “Sideman is an incredibly talented DJ. Obviously we are disappointed that he has taken this decision. We absolutely wish him well for the future. The door is always open for future projects.”

In a statement defending the use of the slur, a spokesperson for the the BBC said: “The BBC set out the context of the news report about the shocking attack on an NHS worker in Bristol. As we have said, the word is highly offensive and we completely accept and understand why people have been upset by its use. The decision to use the word was not taken lightly and without considerable detailed thought: we were aware that it would cause offence. But, in this specific context we felt the need to explain, and report, not just the injuries but, given their alleged extreme nature, the words alleged to have been used - a position which, as we have said, was supported by the family and the victim.”

Recently, for DJ Mag’s Dance Music Is Black Music print edition, Sideman wrote an article explaining the importance of sharing platforms, and the Share The Mic initiative, in combating systemic oppression and racism. "Helping the Black plight is not something you can do subconsciously, or on autopilot,” he wrote. “It’s something that you have to actively fight against, not just in the public, but within yourself. Within your family. Within conversations that you have at work. Wherever you are, to bear us in mind. To do what you can do.” 

You can find a directory of collectives, organisations, charities, and initiatives working with the Black community in a number of different ways, as well as resources that you can use to educate yourself, get involved, and donate if you can here.

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