The Voice newspaper’s Olympics snub raises important questions around diversity

Anna Nathanson

Unjtitled 1 243x300 The Voice newspaper’s Olympics snub raises important questions around diversity This week The Voice, Britain’s biggest and longest running Black newspaper, became the subject of headlines itself after their request to access the Olympic Games was denied.

The justification given was that the British Olympic Association (BOA) had received over 3,000 requests for 400 available places, and that the application had been unsuccessful “after careful consideration by the Media Accreditation Committee.”

A petition soon appeared on querying the “insulting and racist” decision, and questioning the nature of the training completed and the understanding of equality by the decision makers, and whether an equality impact assessment had been carried out.

In a matter of days, almost 3000 members of the public had added their signatures, and The Voice’s plight was backed by a series of high profile figures, including London mayor Boris Johnson, shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell, Labour MPs Chukka Umunna and David Lammy, along with Aloun Assamba, Jamaica’s high commissioner.

Whilst the arguably generic and dismissive response presumably carried no malicious intent on the part of the Committee, what seems clear is that the implications of it were not fully considered by them.

On one hand, the Games organisers have publicly emphasised their commitment to diversity through a range of campaigns, and indeed a large number of participants from ethnic minorities are set to partake in the various competitions. Yet behind the scenes, a simple request from a prominent black media outlet to be present at the Stadium was rejected.

Rather than coming across as a carefully thought out decision as was stated in the response, what it instead suggests is a clear lack of concrete awareness and understanding around real life diversity issues in practice on the part of certain portions of the media.

As such, the seemingly innocent nature of the judgment lapse throws up uncomfortable questions. Does it highlight that diversity is still in many instances an abstract concept that huge organisations and bodies want to appear to be taking seriously in order to tick boxes? Or perhaps it suggests that we as individuals still have a long way to go in our quest to be a fully inclusive society?

On Wednesday the ruling against The Voice was abruptly overturned, illustrating that particularly in today’s digital age, questioning decisions that feel unjust can swiftly result in powerful action.

Notably, it is no small feat that almost 3000 members of the public, possibly many who are not even readers of The Voice, backed the campaign by lending their signatures to the petition.

This surely demonstrates that diversity is not something that large companies can afford to simply consider on the surface.

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  • Blaggerr2011

    They would be right on ALL counts but you would not be stopped from having a title “The Voice of Fascists”. As such a paper already exists.

  • Joey Deacon

    You could claim that a newspaper that is targeted at less than 7% of the UK population without being a specialist sports or regional newspaper may be denied accreditation on the basis of there being more deserving journalists from publishers who don’t operate an exclusive policy on the same basis.
    This isn’t denying that The Voice has an important role to play but this is a world sporting event.
    As a side note, are we to assume that their coverage was to be based exclusively on non-white athletes?

  • Henry Hughes Davies

    every one is racist, no matter what race color or creed you are, you are a racist. get over it.

    humans are intimidated by what is unfamiliar and it dates back to a
    primitive part of the brain that is older than abstract thought. those
    who try to promote their race (for example a ‘black’ newspapers like the
    voice) reinforce the idea that we are all different because of the way
    we look. if we ever want to become less racist as a society we need far
    more cultural integration. i live in london and most areas are
    predominantly populated based on race. black kids and white kids grow up
    not socializing with each other and listening to different music yet
    society wants to blame racism on a footballer who called someone a black
    c*nt. i wish the british media would climb down from its self righteous
    high horse and stop trying to score points fro being anti racist. you
    can not have freedom of speech ‘except for when it is offensive’. its a
    small price to pay to hear the odd obscenity.

    the real problem is our instance that the colour of your skin makes you
    part of a race community with separate values, interests and post codes
    to other races. of course people from other countries who come to
    britain should be free to kept a keen interest in their heritage and
    pass it on to their children if the should want to. however, this need
    to be balanced against creating a situation where people of different
    race are alienated from each other. how about encouraging people to
    celebrate what we have in common. once you scratch the surface you
    realize that regardless of race, mothers tend to love their children and
    friends like to have a laugh together.

    further more, i believe that serious racist bullying would be less
    common if light heated racist banter was acceptable. racism gets it
    power from its taboo status. we could all learn a lot from the great
    lenny bruce, he put it far better than i ever could:

    the sad thing is, the issue is so charged that i feel that people might
    react angrily to this post. all i can say is that i have talked to many
    people of varying ethnicity’s on this subject and have received nothing
    but positive reactions for for my views, even from those who disagreed.

  • Clare Elizabeth Freeman

    ha ha ha ha!:) thank you for the wonderful insight into your prejudiced and twisted world view…
    n.b you might want to take note that nobody else defines themselves as:
    or the news as “our news” or even “our communities”
    and no, the news is not stereotyping you, in case you haven’t noticed the News is mainly read out by
    “people of colour” (your delightful term)
    and neither do we know nothing that:
    “isn’t a stereotype”
    you are the one/s stereotyping, offensively, negatively and yes, racially!
    Oh.Dear. Racism (like yours) is a terrible thing , isn’t it?

    Just imagine if you are able for a minute, coming across the same piece you just wrote by somebody who happened to have a white skin-tone
    would you not immediately think they were a card carrying barbecues in the woods type O’ racist?!
    most certainly you would..

    someone who actually thinks there are “white issues” as you do?!
    guess what:nobody does, just you and your similarly self-identifying on some minute molecules of melanin crowd

    n.b. here’s something to rock your world:genetically speaking,we all are African:we all still hold our original DNA strand from Africa as part of our whole DNA strand and there is no biological basis for race:whatsoever. it is a social construct. Time perhaps to shake off those twisted blinders and prejudiced mind-set? aka racism..

    there is only one ‘race’:the human one
    Martin Luther King famously said:
    “judge the content of someone’s character not the colour of their skin”
    in other word, take the person as you find them. Which is what most people, not prejudiced like you, do..

  • Clare Elizabeth Freeman

    again:ha ha ha ha:) see my reply above..
    self-identification on the grounds of everything you have mentioned purely on the basis of skin-tone isn’t racist/blinkered/prejudiced in any way?

    and likewise projecting that self-same racism onto the so called white everything else isn’t?

    please don’t assume that we are all so twisted thanks. That is in itself;racism.

    Which people, of every skin-tone or even freckled, do not, unlike yourself and others, ascribe to…

    cause if we did:that’d be racist, wouldn’t it?

  • kawasakiman

    I would suggest that The Voices own race related publications were called to account first, before we listen to their own cries of racism.

  • Clare Elizabeth Freeman

    sure, it isn’t racist, just keep telling yourself that….
    you being the one defining someone’s “social, cultural and political interests”
    as a homogeneous entity& belief system, purely on the basis of their skin-tone??!!

    the irony is that such holders of default racism eg. self-identification on the basis of skin-tone seem entirely immune to the fact that it is racist..
    as is their equally offensive belief that everybody who happens to have a white skin-tone is by default racist!
    you couldn’t make it up, could you?..

  • Skaramouche

    The Voice = Stormfront with a chip on it’s shoulder..

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