It’s pretty obvious that you can’t say anything even slightly racist these days without people jumping down your throats and cancelling you, so it seems absolutely crazy to me that BBC guest comedian Leila Navabi would think that she wouldn’t face some kind of backlash for saying that Rishi Sunak looks like ‘Prince Charles in brownface’.
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21 year old Navabi was appearing on The Leak on BBC Wales when she said the following:
He does not represent most brown people.
In fact he doesn’t represent most people point blank, unless most people have a billion pounds and you’re all just hiding it from me.
Rishi Sunak represents a lot of things for us as a society, not least what Prince Charles would look like in brownface.
Yeah, I don’t really think that this is that bad because she’s merely commenting that Sunak looks a bit like Prince Charles and it’s not really racist in the slightest? The more important point here is that she’s drawing attention to the fact that he’s married to the daughter of a literal billionaire and this really doesn’t get talked about enough thanks to the guy’s carefully crafted image from his super expensive PR team, so I can probably overlook that.
Needless to say though, some people took offence at it and these were led by Sunak’s predecessor Sajid Javid, who said the following:
It’s the kind of thing I expect to hear from trolls on Twitter, not the BBC.
The BBC should celebrate diversity, not sow division. I hope they think more carefully in future.
I suppose he has a point there as if similar comments regarding brown face had been made about someone on the left, then they would have been majorly called out all over Twitter and other forms of social media . I don’t think that ‘Brownface’ has quite the same political connotations as ‘Blackface’ though and I think it’s more acceptable coming from a person of Leila’s skin colour especially with what she’s actually saying, so maybe her comment should just be looked upon without this lens and just seen as what it is: that Prince Charles and Rishi Sunak do share a passing resemblance.
It’s also possible that she knew that making comments like that would draw more attention to her interview and thus more people would hear her main point that Rishi Sunak doesn’t represent most people in this country as he’s a literal billionaire. Think that could certainly be what is going on here as well.
For more of the same, check out Sunak suggesting that people in the arts should retrain for a job in ‘cyber’. That was a bit of a boo boo.