When I became a presenter for GB News and a columnist for the Mail, I steeled myself for poisonous hate mail and vile threats from Left-wing trolls. As every centre-Right commentator knows, it’s just part of the job.
What I wasn’t expecting, however, was the abuse hurled at me based on the colour of my skin by other black people.
During the Tory leadership contest two years ago, I spoke out in support of candidate Kemi Badenoch, a black woman like me. She had been accused by a prominent black activist of being ‘a racial-gatekeeping executioner of Tory racist policies’.
The ugly implication was that, as a woman of Nigerian descent, Badenoch couldn’t possibly hold strong Conservative views. Instead, she must be pretending to do so in pursuit of her political ambitions.
When I defended her, I was appalled to see most of the backlash came from other black and Asian people.
Some called me ‘coconut’, a slur to describe someone who is brown on the outside but seems ‘white’ on the inside.
That is a term I’m sadly all too familiar with. It is a favourite insult used in the comments on my social media posts.
I was reminded of this nasty slur when this week a picture emerged of Marieha Mohsin Hussain, a married school teacher from Buckinghamshire, gleefully holding up a sign depicting Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak as coconuts during Saturday’s pro-Palestinian march in London.
Friends of the 36-year-old insist there ‘isn’t a malicious bone in her body’. All I can say is that Ms Hussain, whose father is from Pakistan, clearly needs to go back to school herself if she fails to realise the racist implications of her placard.
Behind it lies the ugly notion that ethnic minorities should not ‘break the mould’. Bigots believe black people should never be wealthy or successful. Rather, we should endlessly focus on our own victimhood.
Anyone who refuses to parrot the woke lobby’s whines about racism, immigration and identity politics is deemed ‘a traitor’. And, as I have unhappily discovered in my own career, we are also accused of being a ‘token’ black voice.
In other words, there is only one viewpoint a black person can express without being pilloried. If that’s not racist, then what is?
Yet since such language is too often hurled by ethnic minorities themselves, it has gone unchecked for far too long.
I was reminded of this nasty slur when this week a picture emerged of Marieha Mohsin Hussain, a married school teacher from Buckinghamshire, gleefully holding up a sign depicting Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak as coconuts during Saturday’s pro-Palestinian march in Londo
In June 2020, it was announced that a new commission on racial inequalities would be headed up by Munira Mirza, chief of Number 10’s policy unit. The daughter of parents from Pakistan, she has criticised the ‘politics of grievance’ as a barrier to progress.
This enraged outspoken race-relations activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu — herself of Nigerian descent — who denounced Mirza as a ‘brown executioner’ of ‘white supremacy’.
And in September last year, Labour MP Rupa Huq, whose parents are from Bangladesh, suggested that former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng was only ‘superficially black’.
Her explanation? ‘He went to Eton, I think he went to a very expensive prep school… if you hear him on the Today programme, you wouldn’t know he is black.’
What are we supposed to take from that? That the only way to be black is to be badly educated, badly spoken, poor and Left-wing? It’s frankly disgusting.
I may not agree with all of Rishi Sunak or Suella Braverman’s policies. But I can appreciate that they’ve risen through the ranks thanks to sheer talent — and not because they are ‘coconuts… desperate to assimilate to white people’, as actress Jameela Jamil — a close friend of Meghan Markle —claimed in a post on Twitter (now X), earlier this year.
It’s time to ditch the outdated idea that white people only can be prejudiced.
In my view, the people of colour who promote this detestable corruption of the word ‘coconut’ are racists, too.