The new royal baby had been born barely a day before experiencing racism broadcast to thousands on Twitter. Danny Baker, a British comedy writer and radio DJ, posted a tweet captioned “Royal Baby leaves hospital” which was referring to a photograph of a chimpanzee dressed in clothes holding hands between two people.
The tweet was a response to the announcement of the birth of Prince Archie, the first son of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (now Duchess of Sussex before any royal buffs correct me). Meghan is mixed race, with an African-American mother and Caucasian father, and has been subject to awful instances of racism since the announcement of her relationship with Harry. Now her son has been the victim of racism already, with Baker’s comments being punished by the BBC firing him from his BBC 5 Live radio show. Danny Baker’s tweet was blatantly racist, inappropriate and absolutely deserving of being fired.
Baker’s weak reasoning that it was “genuine , naïve and catastrophic mistake” seems hollow.
If anyone is not aware why this tweet was racist, and why Baker’s punishment was more than fair, let’s go through it. Monkeys and apes have been used as racist symbols of black people for centuries, dehumanising them based on the colour of their skin and associating them with violence and disease. This ideology has existed since the Middle Ages, making Baker’s weak reasoning that it was a “genuine, naïve and catastrophic mistake” seems hollow. These horrific and overtly racist ideologies and comparisons have not gone away, and it’s clear that anyone with any sense would recognise the message the shared photograph was saying. A mixed-race baby was represented as a chimpanzee in clothing, walking between two people who were then constructed as parent figures through Baker’s written caption. Associating any person with Black heritage as a monkey is so, so clearly racist and wrong, it’s actually mind-boggling that Baker didn’t realise what he’d posted.
What has been frustrating to watch is Baker’s response to people calling him out on the tweet.
What has been frustrating to watch is Baker’s response to people calling him out on the tweet. He claimed he had forgotten that Archie was mixed-race, which is astounding. I’m by no means a royalist, but there’s no way anyone living in Britain could not have any clue that a royal baby was coming, and that they were obviously going to be mixed race. Because that’s how genetics work. Baker did apologise for his “stupid unthinking gag pic” and acknowledged the racist connotations of his post – fair enough. However, I can’t help but feel he undermined the apology by repeatedly saying how it wasn’t his intention and that the BBC “took a tone that said I actually meant that ridiculous tweet”. When you get called out for racism, especially if it’s by BAME people who know first-hand exactly what constitutes racism, you apologise and learn from it. Intentions don’t really matter in this situation. Sure, the royal baby has no idea what’s happened, but undoubtedly Meghan, Harry and the millions of BAME people who have been subjected to similar racist commentary do. Dismissing your comments because they weren’t meant to sound racist doesn’t make them any less racist. Baker’s firing was fair and a very appropriate response to the outrage caused by his tweet; I hope he learns from this and educates himself…but judging by the fact he’s already making jokes about ‘breaking the internet’, I’m not too sure.
Last modified: 31st May 2019