Claims that Danny Baker didn’t know what he was doing don’t hold up, explains ITV news anchor Charlene White.
Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor is less than a week old, but it took only two days for him to be subjected to racism.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry introduced their baby to the world two days after his birth, in celebratory photographs that clearly showed the couple’s joy at the new addition to their family.
Most people, even committed royalists, welcomed the photographs, but comedian Danny Baker decided the time was ripe to post what was clearly a racist tweet.
He posted an archival black and white photograph of a well-off couple, with the woman holding the hand of a monkey dressed in a suit and hat, captioning it: “Royal baby leaves hospital.”
The photograph sparked immediate accusations of racism, and Baker later took it down, tweeting as a follow up: “Sorry my gag pic of the little fella in the posh outfit has whipped some up. Never occurred to me because, well, mind not diseased. Soon as those good enough to point out it’s possible connotations got in touch, down it came. And that’s it.”
He subsequently posted more defensive apologies defending his “stupid unthinking gag pic”, but has been sacked from his job as a presenter for BBC radio, and has reacted by criticising the BBC.
Baker can be as defensive as he likes, but it only takes minimal knowledge of how black people have been portrayed through history to understand why his tweet was racist, whatever his so-called intentions were.
And ITV News presenter Charlene White has succinctly explained why Baker’s original tweet was so bad.
“Let’s break down the Danny Baker situation,” she wrote. “Meghan has been subject to horrific/veiled racist abuse & prejudice online and in print since the start of their relationship. Of which we are ALL aware.”
She continued: “To post a pic picturing a 3-day old baby of mixed heritage as a monkey, then claim it was a joke? That’s old-school prejudice and racism at its peak. And for a trusted broadcaster working at a public service broadcaster to feed that prejudice? It’s unacceptable.”
White had no time for claims by Baker that he wasn’t aware of the connotations, or for his “apologies”, writing: “And to claim “ignorance”, and give a half-hearted apology - again full of jokey “banter” - despite people highlighting just how clearly offensive it is, is also unacceptable. That’s not the world we live in now. Those who live in privilege must be held to account.”
Markle has been subjected to racism and prejudice since her relationship was Prince Harry was confirmed, as White points out. Shortly after their relationship was made public, Prince Harry had to issue a statement – unprecedented for the Royal Family – about the “wave of abuse and harassment” Markle had been subjected to. These included the “racial undertones of comment pieces” in newspapers, and the “outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments”.
Markle was criticised for wearing a one-shouldered black dress and dark nail polish at an appearance at the British Fashion Awards, criticisms which had a racist undertone and had not been targeted at Kate Middleton when she made similar fashion decisions.
Baker’s tweet is a continuation of the offensive and racist behaviour Markle has been dealing with just because she is a biracial woman. In this context, and given Baker’s work as a football pundit – covering a sport where racism is rife and much discussed – it’s impossible to believe the comedian didn’t know what he was doing when he posted that image and caption. Anyone who thinks otherwise should reread White’s Twitter thread.