Russian Embassy in UK perplexed by statements on ‘persecution of Christians’ in Russia – Society & Culture – TASS

LONDON, February 15. /TASS/. The Russian Embassy in the UK has expressed bewilderment about remarks by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Heather Wheeler who claimed that Christians’ rights were not respected in Russia.

Wheeler made such a statement in the British parliament on February 6, mentioning Russia as part of a debate on the persecution of Christians around the world. She provided neither details nor evidence to substantiate her claims.

“This statement raises eyebrows at the very least. Orthodox Christians make up the vast majority of Russian believers. Hundreds of new churches are being built, and the Russian Orthodox Church plays an active role in discussing socially significant issues. All conditions have been created for freely practicing the religion by followers of other Christian churches,” the embassy’s press officer said in a statement.

“Patriarch Kirill’s meetings with head of the Catholic Church Pope Francis and Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Church of England, in 2016 were the evidence of the recognition of the revival of Christian spiritual values and the substantial beneficial role of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia and throughout the world. We know nothing about the issue of discrimination against Christians in Russia being raised at these meetings. Reports by personal envoys of the current OSCE chairperson-in-office on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination make no mention of that either,” the diplomat stressed, adding that “the same is true of the problem of religious and racial intolerance towards representatives of other religions.”

“At the same time, we have to state that the problems of religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, are well known in Britain itself,” he pointed out.

“While declaring their determination to protect the rights of Christians, our British partners are, in actual fact, politicizing the issue, as evidenced by the fact that they refer to China, North Korea and Iran as the main [rights] abusers. We urge London to start cooperation to solve real problems facing Christians, primarily in the Middle East. A lot of work lies ahead, and its results depend on coordinated efforts by many countries,” he said.

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In the wake of Brexit, turns out racism is a very British thing

person

On Brexit day, CBBC shared a video clip from its Horrible Histories programme on Twitter. Comedian Nish Kumar introduced the clip, which was intended to be a lighthearted history of “British things” aimed at children.

Unfortunately, some flag-waving Brexit fans didn’t respond too well to being told that tea, sugar, and cotton aren’t really British. Kumar received a racist backlash from people who clearly aren’t big on history:

Ooh Nish Kumar is trending. Let’s take a l-

*a tsunami of gammon washes through the screen

English supremacists are literally losing their shit at Nish for telling them where tea, sugar & cotton actually come from.

😂✊🏾❤pic.twitter.com/qqcUK93Zyf

— Kerry-Anne Mendoza (@TheMendozaWoman) January 31, 2020

Even the likes of BBC presenter Andrew Neil joined in the pile-on. Meanwhile, blame for the video’s “anti-British” message fell squarely on Kumar, despite the fact that Kumar only introduced the clip. In fact, the clip itself has been around for a while and wasn’t even made for Brexit:

Interesting that nobody had an issue with this song when it was first shown in 2009… It’s almost as if they have a problem with Nish Kumar, not the message? 🧐 https://t.co/TZ2tieyXlX

— oh look another fool (@ElenaBjxrn) January 31, 2020

Your racism is showing

Much as many people at Brexit Day celebrations might argue that they aren’t racist, just proud of being British, their true colours keep showing. And they are, quite frankly, disgusting:

Nish Kumar was born in Wandsworth.

— rufa ratae (@rufaratae) January 31, 2020

it only ended slavery by spending a king’s ransome by buying off slave owners, learn some history before opening yer cake ‘ole https://t.co/10fp91wnRT #bloodyknowalls

— John Boocock (@JohnBoocock) January 31, 2020

Clearly, Brexit has emboldened those with racist views, which is obvious from the spike in racially-motivated hate crime in recent years. So the far-right leanings of some celebrating Brexit Day come as no surprise:

this is moment we left the EU last night from within parliament square. amongst 1000s of ppl there were sizeable pockets of far-right. lads with swastika neck tattoos, ppl singing “oh tommy tommy”+deification of nigel farage. a big moment that felt a little like a tipping point. pic.twitter.com/eX8jGyqiYm

— Ben Smoke (@bencsmoke) February 1, 2020

“Make Britain Great Again”

The nationalist lines of ‘getting our country back’ and ‘making Britain great again’ has an eerie echo of the Trump-supporting MAGA crowd in the US:

Peak Leavers’ interview. Watch and weep. 😖🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/gQsGLeZQME

🕷Mrs Miggins Esq (@MrsMigginsHere) January 31, 2020

Sadly, Kumar’s experience of racism in the wake of Brexit isn’t the only one. It’s just more visible because of its public nature. Meanwhile, everyday experiences of racism for People of Colour carry on in Brexit Britain:

A friend posted this on another social media platform, left overnight in her neighbourhood. pic.twitter.com/CuFHgr7uTn

— Dorothy Lepkowska (@DotLepkowska) January 31, 2020

Those celebrating Brexit are doing so because they got what they wanted. But if they want me or Kumar to go back to where we came from, there’s bad news. Britain may have left the EU, but people like us aren’t going anywhere.

Featured image via YouTube/CBBC

By Afroze Fatima Zaidi

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Slaves, nannies, and maids: Oscars value women of colour – in subservient roles | Film | The Guardian

For Oscar voters, what makes a great performance has disturbingly narrow criteria for non-white performers. The observation that people of colour are only ever recognised for playing slaves and criminals, that their stories are only ever seen as important when they deal with tragedy and suffering, does not strictly belong to the unenlightened past. This week’s Oscar nominations prove that such judgments are planted firmly in the present.

The kinds of roles being written for people of colour over the past decade have begun to expand to encompass a wider range of experiences. Just recently we were graced with the luminous Jennifer Lopez as savvy stripper Ramona in Hustlers; newcomer Nora Lum (Awkwafina) as the conflicted granddaughter of a dying matriarch in The Farewell; Lupita Nyong’o in a remarkable two-in-one turn in Jordan Peele’s Us. This all goes without mentioning the incredible performances that never quite picked up steam: Alfre Woodard in Clemency, for instance, or Song Kang-Ho in Parasite. But never mind the fertile pickings. This year the Academy has nominated one person of colour – Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman in Harriet. This outcome is dismaying, partly because it falls neatly into a familiar pattern: a person of colour performing a racially specific form of suffering, the outlier in a sea of white nominees.

Erivo’s nomination for Harriet, a film that received middling reviews, is not a preposterous decision. Actors are often recognised for individual work that might stand out in an otherwise mediocre film (take Renée Zellweger in Judy). I’m not bothered by the quality of Erivo’s performance. There are far more egregious entries on that front, with the likes of Charlize Theron for Bombshell, or Scarlet Johansson for Jojo Rabbit, reaping nods (have the Oscars ever been a legitimate meritocracy?). Far more worrisome is what Erivo’s nomination suggests about the way Academy voters evaluate performers of colour, who seem to be the most visible, and taken the most seriously, within the trappings of white pity.

That voters overlooked a performance like Nyong’o’s in Us, a chilling interpretation of two sides of the same self, is telling. It doesn’t matter that this performance matches, if not surpasses entirely that of Joaquin Phoenix’s in Joker, even though both actors play, with tremendous physical commitment, psychologically tormented characters in genre films. Instead, the Academy prefers the Nyong’o who starred in 12 Years a Slave (2013), a film in which she is a slave, raped and humiliated. For these efforts, so difficult for the conscience to ignore, she was awarded best supporting actress.

In the last decade, only 14 women of colour were among the 100 women nominated by the Academy for the best actress and best supporting actress awards. There were even fewer men of colour (nine out of 100). That the same types of roles – slaves, nannies, and maids – continue to be the magic ticket to the red carpet, feels particularly ugly considering the range of parts played by white nominees. This year, for instance, the characters of Erivo’s fellow best actress nominees include a Fox newswoman, an icon of classic Hollywood, an aspiring young writer, and a hopeful divorcee. In 2019, Yalitza Aparicio was nominated for her performance in Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma. Aparicio is one of the few Latin American actresses to receive the honour, joining Adriana Barraza as a deported nanny in Babel, and Catalina Sandino Moreno as a drug mule in Maria Full of Grace.




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As moving as these performances are, these films leave a bitter taste as they reaffirm tired conceptions of Latin American women. Aparicio plays a housemaid silently enduring racism and neglect, which recalls another Academy favourite – Tate Taylor’s The Help (2011), which stars Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis as resilient maids, as well! Such slim parameters betray the desire, perhaps even the need by Oscar voters, for a particularly cheap form of pathos, one that simplifies and minimises the experiences of non-white people by placing them on the margins or in the past. Those performances that don’t square with this mould are often considered too “light,” too niche, or too subversive for the Academy, all of which indicates the incredible myopia of its voting body and the thinly veiled racism that guides it.

Perhaps hoping for a consistently diverse pool of Oscar nominees is blind optimism; the more time passes, the anomalous triumphs of films such as Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, feel like a fever dream. By opening up its membership to more women and people of colour, and enlisting diverse talent such as John Cho, Issa Rae, and Tiffany Haddish to present its nominations, the Academy has attempted to create an image of inclusivity. But given this year’s batch of nominees, that commitment has proven to be both superficial and a bad joke.

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Eddie Murphy shows you can evolve, apologise and still be funny

A 30-year-old video of George Carlin is proof some standups have long understood the ugliness of attacking underdogs. Its a lesson many current comics are learning

Comedy

Comedy is dying and political correctness is killing it. Nobody can joke about anything any more without triggered liberals screaming racism and cancelling them.

Ill stop there because Im sure you have heard this screed before. Conservatives love complaining about how millennial snowflakes cant take a joke and dont understand edgy humour. In September, for example, the comedian Shane Gillis was dropped from Saturday Night Live after footage surfaced of him making racist, homophobic and misogynistic gags. Gillis responded to the outrage with a non-apology in which he explained that he pushes boundaries and takes risks.

Comedians should obviously push boundaries and take risks. But punching down has never been remotely risky or funny. This isnt a development of our woke era; its a principle the worlds best comics have always acknowledged. Just look at the 30-year-old video of George Carlin that recently went viral. In the clip Carlin criticises bigoted jokes made by his fellow standup Andrew Dice Clay. Comedy has traditionally picked on people in power, Carlin says. Women and gays and immigrants, to my way of thinking, are underdogs. He adds: I think [Clays] core audience is young, white males who are threatened by these groups.

Aiah Samba (@Dualityman81)

Wow, this is from 1990. And I thought us sensitive folk didnt understand the unfunny punching down jokes from these comedians. Interesting pic.twitter.com/2jU5Xj6pA3

September 28, 2019

Around the same time that Carlins comments were going viral, the New York Times published a new interview with Eddie Murphy, who is returning to standup. Murphy, 58, told the Times he isnt afraid of current controversies over humour, pointing out that he was picketed for homophobic jokes he made in the 1980s. It took Murphy a long time to apologise for those jokes and the backlash was partly why he stopped doing standup for years. But you know what? He still has a career. Whats more, he says he cringes when he thinks of his old, ignorant material.

So there you are: Murphy is living proof that political correctness hasnt killed comedy. He shows that its perfectly possible to apologise and evolve, even if it takes a while. I hope Gillis is paying attention.

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BBC gives more detail on Naga Munchetty ruling

BBC Image copyright Getty Images

The BBC has released more detail on its decision to uphold a complaint against news presenter Naga Munchetty.

The BBC Breakfast host was found to have breached guidelines by criticising President Donald Trump after he said four female politicians should “go back” to “places from which they came”.

The corporation said its editorial guidelines “do not allow for journalists to… give their opinions about the individual making the remarks or their motives for doing so – in this case President Trump”.

The statement added: “It was for this reason that the complaint was partially upheld. Those judgements are for the audience to make.”

It also said that President Trump’s comments were “widely condemned as racist, and we reported on this extensively”.

A letter to the complainant revealed the BBC had said that by commenting on Trump’s “possible motive” and the “potential consequences” of his statement, Munchetty had gone “beyond what the guidelines allow for”.

The BBC added in the letter that “audiences should not be able to tell” the opinions of its journalists on matters of public policy.

The corporation also released a full transcript of the 17 July broadcast.

Munchetty’s comments came after an interview with a supporter of the president.

Addressing the “go home” comment, presenter Dan Walker said: “That was the most telling quote for me last night. I can’t remember who said it but she said I’ve been told to go home many times to go back to where I’ve come from in my life but never by the man sitting in the Oval office.”

She said: “Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism.

“Now I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.”

news Image copyright Getty Images

Walker then said: “You’re sitting here not giving an opinion, but how do you feel as someone when you’ve been told that before, and when you hear that from him?”

To which Munchetty replied: “Furious. Absolutely furious. And I imagine a lot of people in this country will be feeling absolutely furious that a man in that position feels it’s okay to skirt the lines with using language like that.”

Walker then asked: “So you feel his use of that then legitimises other people to use this…”

“Yes.. yes,” replied Munchetty.

“It feels like a thought-out strategy, to strengthen his position,” noted Walker.

Munchetty added: “And it is not enough to do it just to get attention… he’s in a responsible position.”

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dan Walker replaced Bill Turnbull as a BBC Breakfast presenter in 2016

She has received messages of support after the corporation’s complaints unit, the ECU, partially upheld the complaint against her.

On Thursday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the decision as “astonishing”.

news

Munchetty is not facing any action or reprimand, BBC News understands.

The broadcaster’s complaints unit found it was “entirely legitimate” for Munchetty to reply to Mr Walker in terms which reflected her own experience of racism and the racist context in which people from ethnic minorities are told to go back to their own countries.

But it said she went on to comment critically on the possible motive or consequences of Mr Trump’s words and “judgements of that kind are for the audience to make”.

Explaining their thinking, the BBC’s letter said: “Due impartiality does not require absolute neutrality on every issue or detachment from fundamental democratic principles. And the president’s remarks were widely regarded as racist and condemned in the UK across the political spectrum.

“Ms Munchetty had been pressed to comment by her co-presenter and had a legitimate, personal reason for feeling strongly on this issue. She was therefore in our view entitled to give a personal response to the phrase ‘go to back to your own country’, as it was rooted in her own experience of racism and in a generally accepted interpretation of that phrase.”

Adding: “But it is also evident that Ms Munchetty, despite at the end of the exchange acknowledging ‘I am not here to give my opinion’, did comment directly and critically on the possible motive for, and potential consequences of, the president’s conduct, which by their nature were a matter for legitimate discussion and debate. This, in our view, went beyond what the Guidelines allow for under these circumstances, and on those grounds I am therefore upholding your complaint.”

The BBC’s spokeswoman said Munchetty was not available for comment.

BBC

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Naomi Klein: ‘We are seeing the beginnings of the era of climate barbarism’

The No Logo author talks about solutions to the climate crisis, Greta Thunberg, birth strikes and how she finds hope

Australia

Why are you publishing this book now?
I still feel that the way that we talk about climate change is too compartmentalised, too siloed from the other crises we face. A really strong theme running through the book is the links between it and the crisis of rising white supremacy, the various forms of nationalism and the fact that so many people are being forced from their homelands, and the war that is waged on our attention spans. These are intersecting and interconnecting crises and so the solutions have to be as well.

The book collects essays from the last decade, have you changed your mind about anything?
When I look back, I dont think I placed enough emphasis on the challenge climate change poses to the left. Its more obvious the way the climate crisis challenges a rightwing dominant worldview, and the cult of serious centrism that never wants to do anything big, thats always looking to split the difference. But this is also a challenge to a left worldview that is essentially only interested in redistributing the spoils of extractivism [the process of extracting natural resources from the earth] and not reckoning with the limits of endless consumption.

Whats stopping the left doing this?
In a North American context, its the greatest taboo of all to actually admit that there are going to be limits. You see that in the way Fox News has gone after the Green New Deal they are coming after your hamburgers! It cuts to the heart of the American dream every generation gets more than the last, there is always a new frontier to expand to, the whole idea of settler colonial nations like ours. When somebody comes along and says, actually, there are limits, weve got some tough decisions, we need to figure out how to manage whats left, weve got to share equitably it is a psychic attack. And so the response [on the left] has been to avoid, and say no, no, were not coming to take away your stuff, there are going to be all kinds of benefits. And there are going to be benefits: well have more livable cities, well have less polluted air, well spend less time stuck in traffic, we can design happier, richer lives in so many ways. But we are going to have to contract on the endless, disposable consumption side.

Quick guide

Covering Climate Now: how more than 250 newsrooms are joining forces this week to spotlight the climate crisis

author

Hundreds of newsrooms around the world are banding together this week to commit their pages and air time to what may be the most consequential story of our time: the climate emergency.

As world leaders descend on New York for the UNClimate Action Summit on 23 September and millions of activists prepare for a global climate strike on 20 September the media partnership Covering Climate Now is launching its first large-scale collaboration to increase climate coverage in the global media and focus public attention on this emergency.

The Guardian is the lead partner in Covering Climate Now, which was founded earlier this year by the Columbia Journalism Review and the Nation. The partnership currently includes 250 newsrooms representing 32 countries with a combined monthly reach of more than a billion people.

The network represents every corner of the media including TV networks (CBS News, Al Jazeera), newspapers (El Pas, the Toronto Star), digital players (BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Vox), wire services (Getty Images, Bloomberg), magazines (Nature, Science), and dozens of podcasts, local publishers, radio and TV stations. You can learn more about the initiativehere.

Do you feel encouraged by talk of the Green New Deal?
I feel a tremendous excitement and a sense of relief, that we are finally talking about solutions on the scale of the crisis we face. That were not talking about a little carbon tax or a cap and trade scheme as a silver bullet. Were talking about transforming our economy. This system is failing the majority of people anyway, which is why were in this period of such profound political destabilisation that is giving us the Trumps and the Brexits, and all of these strongman leaders so why dont we figure out how to change everything from bottom to top, and do it in a way that addresses all of these other crises at the same time? There is every chance we will miss the mark, but every fraction of a degree warming that we are able to hold off is a victory and every policy that we are able to win that makes our societies more humane, the more we will weather the inevitable shocks and storms to come without slipping into barbarism. Because what really terrifies me is what we are seeing at our borders in Europe and North America and Australia I dont think its coincidental that the settler colonial states and the countries that are the engines of that colonialism are at the forefront of this. We are seeing the beginnings of the era of climate barbarism. We saw it in Christchurch, we saw it in El Paso, where you have this marrying of white supremacist violence with vicious anti-immigrant racism.

A
A fire near Porto Velho, Brazil, September 2019. Photograph: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

That is one of the most chilling sections of your book: I think thats a link a lot of people havent made.
This pattern has been clear for a while. White supremacy emerged not just because people felt like thinking up ideas that were going to get a lot of people killed but because it was useful to protect barbaric but highly profitable actions. The age of scientific racism begins alongside the transatlantic slave trade, it is a rationale for that brutality. If we are going to respond to climate change by fortressing our borders, then of course the theories that would justify that, that create these hierarchies of humanity, will come surging back. There have been signs of that for years, but it is getting harder to deny because you have killers who are screaming it from the rooftops.

One criticism you hear about the environment movement is that it is dominated by white people. How do you address that?
When you have a movement that is overwhelmingly representative of the most privileged sector of society then the approach is going to be much more fearful of change, because people who have a lot to lose tend to be more fearful of change, whereas people who have a lot to gain will tend to fight harder for it. Thats the big benefit of having an approach to climate change that links it to those so called bread and butter issues: how are we going to get better paid jobs, affordable housing, a way for people to take care of their families? I have had many conversations with environmentalists over the years where they seem really to believe that by linking fighting climate change with fighting poverty, or fighting for racial justice, its going to make the fight harder. We have to get out of this my crisis is bigger than your crisis: first we save the planet and then we fight poverty and racism, and violence against women. That doesnt work. That alienates the people who would fight hardest for change. This debate has shifted a huge amount in the US because of the leadership of the climate justice movement and because it is congresswomen of colour who are championing the Green New Deal.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib come from communities that have gotten such a raw deal under the years of neoliberalism and longer, and are determined to represent, truly represent, the interests of those communities. Theyre not afraid of deep change because their communities desperately need it.

In the book, you write: The hard truth is that the answer to the question What can I, as an individual, do to stop climate change? is: nothing. Do you still believe that?
In terms of the carbon, the individual decisions that we make are not going to add up to anything like the kind of scale of change that we need. And I do believe that the fact that for so many people its so much more comfortable to talk about our own personal consumption, than to talk about systemic change, is a product of neoliberalism, that we have been trained to see ourselves as consumers first. To me thats the benefit of bringing up these historical analogies, like the New Deal or the Marshall Plan it brings our minds back to a time when we were able to think of change on that scale. Because weve been trained to think very small. It is incredibly significant that Greta Thunberg has turned her life into a living emergency.

Yes, she set sail for the UN climate summit in New York on a zero carbon yacht …
Exactly. But this isnt about what Greta is doing as an individual. Its about what Greta is broadcasting in the choices that she makes as an activist, and I absolutely respect that. I think its magnificent. She is using the power that she has to broadcast that this is an emergency, and trying to inspire politicians to treat it as an emergency. I dont think anybody is exempt from scrutinising their own decisions and behaviours but I think it is possible to overemphasise the individual choices. I have made a choice and this has been true since I wrote No Logo, and I started getting these what should I buy, where should I shop, what are the ethical clothes? questions. My answer continues to be that I am not a lifestyle adviser, I am not anyones shopping guru, and I make these decisions in my own life but Im under no illusion that these decisions are going to make the difference.

Some people are choosing to go on birth strikes. What do you think about that?
Im happy these discussions are coming into the public domain as opposed to being furtive issues were afraid to talk about. Its been very isolating for people. It certainly was for me. One of the reasons I waited as long as I did to try and get pregnant, and I would say this to my partner all the time what, you want to have a Mad Max water warrior fighting with their friends for food and water? It wasnt until I was part of the climate justice movement and I could see a path forward that I could even imagine having a kid. But I would never tell anybody how to answer this most intimate of questions. As a feminist who knows the brutal history of forced sterilisation and the ways in which womens bodies become battle zones when policymakers decide that they are going to try and control population, I think that the idea that there are regulatory solutions when it comes to whether or not to have kids is catastrophically ahistorical. We need to be struggling with our climate grief together and our climate fears together, through whatever decision we decide to make, but the discussion we need to have is how do we build a world so that those kids can have thriving, zero-carbon lives?

The
The Malizia II, with Greta Thunberg on board, arrives in Hudson Harbor, New York. Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Over the summer, you encouraged people to read Richard Powerss novel, The Overstory. Why?
Its been incredibly important to me and Im happy that so many people have written to me since. What
Powers is writing about trees: that trees live in communities and are in communication, and plan and react together, and weve been completely wrong in the way we conceptualise them. Its the same conversation were having about whether we are going to solve this as individuals or whether we are going to save the collective organism. Its also rare, in good fiction, to valorise activism, to treat it with real respect, failures and all, to acknowledge the heroism of the people who put their bodies on the line. I thought Powers did that in a really extraordinary way.

What are you views on what Extinction Rebellion has achieved?
One thing they have done so well is break us out of this classic campaign model we have been in for a long time, where you tell someone something scary, you ask them to click on something to do something about it, you skip out the whole phase where we need to grieve together and feel together and process what it is that we just saw. Because what I hear a lot from people is, ok, maybe those people back in the 1930s or 40s could organise neighbourhood by neighbourhood or workplace by workplace but we cant. We believe weve been so downgraded as a species that we are incapable of that. The only thing that is going to change that belief is getting face to face, in community, having experiences, off our screens, with one another on the streets and in nature, and winning some things and feeling that power.

You talk about stamina in the book. How do you keep going? Do you feel hopeful?
I have complicated feelings about the hope question. Not a day goes by that I dont have a moment of sheer panic, raw terror, complete conviction that we are doomed, and then I do pull myself out of it. Im renewed by this new generation that is so determined, so forceful. Im inspired by the willingness to engage in electoral politics, because my generation, when we were in our 20s and 30s, there was so much suspicion around getting our hands dirty with electoral politics that we lost a lot of opportunities. What gives me the most hope right now is that weve finally got the vision for what we want instead, or at least the first rough draft of it. This is the first time this has happened in my lifetime. And also, I did decide to have kids. I have a seven year old who is so completely obsessed and in love with the natural world. When I think about him, after weve spent an entire summer talking about the role of salmon in feeding the forests where he was born in British Columbia, and how they are linked to the health of the trees and the soil and the bears and the orcas and this entire magnificent ecosystem, and I think about what it would be like to have to tell him that there are no more salmon, it kills me. So that motivates me. And slays me.

Naomi Klein will be in conversation with Katharine Viner at a Guardian Live event on 15 October.

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Naga Munchetty Trump comments ‘breached BBC rules’

BBC
Image caption Munchetty has been a presenter on BBC Breakfast for the last 10 years

Naga Munchetty breached BBC guidelines by criticising President Donald Trump for perceived racism, the corporation’s complaints unit has ruled.

In July the BBC presenter took issue with comments made by the US President after he told opponents to “go back” to the “places from which they came”.

The BBC said the Breakfast host was entitled to her own views but had gone “beyond what the guidelines allow for”.

It said any action taken as a result of the finding would be published later.

A BBC spokeswoman said the corporation’s Executive Complaints Unit [ECU] had ruled that “while Ms Munchetty was entitled to give a personal response to the phrase ‘go back to your own country’ as it was rooted in her own experience, overall her comments went beyond what the guidelines allow for”.

Off-script

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on 17 July after Mr Trump’s online remarks, Munchetty said: “Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism.

“Now I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.”

news Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The US president’s comments prompted a wave of criticism

Munchetty said she felt “absolutely furious” and suggested many people in the UK might feel the same way.

“I can imagine lots of people in this country will be feeling absolutely furious that a man in that position feels it’s okay to skirt the lines with using language like that,” she told co-presenter Dan Walker.

Her comments followed Mr Trump posting several messages that made references to the Democrat politicians Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” he wrote on Twitter on 14 July.

Some BBC journalists tweeted their disapproval at the ECU’s ruling.

Presenter Carrie Gracie, who resigned her post as China Editor in a dispute over equal pay, said it had caused “unease” among BBC journalists “for whom ‘go back’ = racist” and called on the ECU to explain its decision.

BBC correspondent Sangita Myska tweeted: “Right now, there is a lot of bewilderment among BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] staff”, adding “there is unique self-censoring that BAMEs do across all industries & workplaces”.

Replying to Ms Myska, presenter Matthew Price tweeted his “solidarity”, saying: “There’s a lot of bewilderment (and some anger) among non-BAME staff too… and I agree there’s general concern about voicing it openly.”

When Munchetty made the comment in July, she received praise online for her “off-script” moment.

BBC

The ECU found Munchetty’s assertion that Mr Trump’s comments were “embedded in racism” went beyond what the BBC allows and upheld a complaint made about the presenter’s comments.

The BBC’s spokeswoman said a summary of the complaint and the ECU’s decision would be published on the BBC’s online complaints pages and that it would “include a note of any action taken as a result of the finding”.

Labour MP David Lammy called the ECU’s decision “appalling“, while journalist Kevin Maguire said it was a “bad, bad day“.

A representative for BBC Breakfast said Munchetty was not available for comment.

news

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Bill Nye Wants a Rematch With Tucker Carlson

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This week, Bill Nye joined The Last Laugh podcast to offer some advice to the 10 Democratic presidential primary candidates who will be participating in CNNs upcoming Climate Crisis Town Hall. After all, the Science Guy has a lot of experience making the case for climate action on TV.

Oh god, Nye says when I bring up the appearance he made on Tucker Carlsons show a couple of years ago. As one headline put it at the time, Bill Nye appears on Fox News and it doesnt go well.

The experience was just a lot of adrenaline, Nye tells me. He was in Washington, D.C., where Carlson tapes his show. It was a beautiful night, gorgeous, and Tucker Carlson was on the roof of the building doing his schtick from there. Fox invited him on to talk about climate change and he agreed, making his first appearance on that network in nearly a decade despite being a semi-frequent presence on CNN and MSNBC.

So we were going to go on the roof, beautiful night, this will be fun, Nye thought to himself. But then the producers told him he wasnt going to be on the roof with the host but rather in a small room on a lower floor of the same studio. They moved me, changed my chair three times to throw me off, he says.

During his introduction, Carlson mocked his guest as Bill Nye the Psychoanalyst Guy for claiming that climate change deniers suffer from cognitive dissonance. The host was clearly itching for a fight.

As the segment began, Nye quickly realized that every time he started to talk, Carlson would interrupt him. Working as fast as I could, I took my phone out and tried to show him with a stopwatch that he interrupted me every six seconds, Nye says. So its hard to make a point with him.

By the end of their nine minutes on screen together, Carlson was shouting at Nye, Im open-minded, you are not!

Carry on, Mr. Carlson, Im sure we will cross paths again, Nye told him, a bit ominously. They havent crossed paths since.

Hes really drifted off, with respect, Nye says of Carlson, who has become the most prominent white nationalist voice on Fox News under President Trump. I mean hes gotten odder and odder. Besides the racism, Nye was enraged by a recent show in which he attacked the metric system.

The other thing I wonder about Tucker Carlson is, hes got four kids, Nye says, turning more serious. I just wonder how his children feel about climate change. They keep a pretty low profile. I wonder about it, because it much more difficult to meet a climate change denier who is young.

Nye had a much better time making a cameo on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver earlier this year. God, that was a blast, he says of the sketch in which he lit a globe on fire to demonstrate the impact of climate change. As the longtime host of a childrens program, he has spent most of his career communicating his message in a kid-friendly way. But on HBO, he got to scream, The planets on fucking fire! at the top of his lungs. It was heartfelt! he says.

And yet Nye does not regret his attempt to get through to Fox News viewers on the climate crisis. Ill go back on there almost anytime, he says, explaining that he was asked back shortly after his original appearance but said no at the time and hasnt been invited since.

Ive offered to be on The Five and they wouldnt have me on, Nye adds of Foxs afternoon roundtable show. It wouldnt be fun, he admits, but youve got to meet people where they are.

Lets all go fishing at the other guys fishin hole, Nye says, explaining that he means that literally as well as figuratively. Because were more alike than we are different.

When I ask if that applies to him and Tucker Carlson, Nye sighs and replies, Yeah, I guess. Like Nye, Carlson used to be famous for wearing bow ties on television. He used to, Nye says of Carlson, but he lost his nerve.

Next week on The Last Laugh podcast: Stand-up comedian and host of Comedy Centrals Good Talk, Anthony Jeselnik.

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Eni Aluko: We all have moments in life when our morals are called into question

When the striker called out racism in the England camp, it ended her international career. She explains why the fight was worth it

Bullying

Eniola Aluko is one of only 11 female footballers to have played more than 100 times for England. She has scored some of the Lionesses most memorable goals, was the first female pundit on Match Of The Day, and is a qualified lawyer, having graduated from Brunel University London with a first in 2008. But it is as a whistleblower that she is destined to be best remembered. And, like many whistleblowers, she has spent the subsequent years being rubbished by those she exposed.

Now she has written a memoir. They Dont Teach This is a fascinating examination of her multiple identities British and Nigerian, a girl in a boys world, footballer and academic, a kid from an estate with upper-middle-class parents, a God-fearing rebel. But the book is at its best when she reveals exactly what happened after she accused the England management team of racism, and the Football Association of turning a blind eye to it. Aluko does not hold back and few people from the football establishment emerge with their reputation intact.

Aluko now plays for Juventus in Italy, but we meet at her old stomping ground, Brunel. She has been delayed by traffic, which gives me time to explore the sports centre. On the wall are three huge, framed posters of Brunel alumni sporting legends. Guess who they are, I say to Aluko when she arrives. Mo Farah, definitely, she says instantly. And? Erm oh, Usain Bolt! Obviously! He trained here. And the third? She is stumped. Then she looks. Oh. My. God! It is a poster of her playing for England. Wow! Thats amazing. She looks genuinely thrilled.

Aluko has a small, mobile face with striking features big, brown eyes and a huge, ear-to-ear smile. When she is unhappy, she makes no attempt to hide it; her glare is as forbidding as the smile is winning. And there havent been many times over the past five years that Aluko has had reason to smile.

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Eniola Aluko playing for England against Germany at Wembley in November 2014. Photograph: Alamy

It all started in January 2014, barely a month after Mark Sampson took over as manager of the Lionesses. Sampson was 30 years old, an inexperienced coach who had never played professional football. At 28, Aluko was virtually an England veteran, a first-team regular and a popular member of the squad who had used her legal skills to champion teammates notably helping to draw up a new central contract for the team. The striker was also a conscientious player, always keen to improve her game.

Her desire to better herself led to her taking advantage of a new system that enabled players to watch back games and analyse their own performance, while hearing the audio from the management team. After a match against Finland, a 3-1 win for England in which Aluko had scored a goal and made another, she reviewed the footage. Aluko had been pleased with her performance which made it more shocking when she heard the audio. The goalkeeping coach Lee Kendall said: Eni is lazy as fuck, and: Shes not fit enough. Then, when I lost the ball, he said: Oh, fuck off, Eni, she tells me. She heard no disparaging remarks about other players, nor any positive comments when she scored and assisted a goal.

Aluko was confused. She was in the form of her life, with six goals in six games for England. And, more to the point, she says, she had never been called lazy before. At the time, I didnt think too deeply about what was being said. I was just like: why is this being said about me on a portal that everyone can access? Then I started thinking about where has this come from. The more she thought about it, the more convinced she became that there was a racial connotation. Look, lazy is a generic term. Anybody can be called lazy if youre not tracking back. But if youre black and youre called lazy, its different. Some words have real context to them, and this dates back to slavery times. In that split second, Im sure Lee Kendall didnt think about racial connotations, but thats what racism can be.

One coach spoke to her in a fake Caribbean accent. I was tempted to speak to him in a Scottish accent, despite knowing he was Welsh. Aluko is fully aware, as are most football fans of a certain age, how charged the word lazy is in relation to black footballers. In 2004, the former Manchester United manager Ron Atkinson was sacked as a pundit on ITV (and as a Guardian columnist) after a microphone picked him up saying the French defender Marcel Desailly is what is known in some schools as a fucking lazy thick nigger. Aluko knew Kendalls comment bore no comparison, but she couldnt help thinking about it. She started to feel the management team had it in for her, but kept stumm. What Kendall had said was unpleasant, but it would be virtually impossible to prove it was anything more. If they didnt like her, she would show her worth on the pitch. And she did, finishing joint top scorer among all nations competing for qualification for the European Championships in 2015, with 13 goals.

But the comments continued now to her face. In November 2014, she told Sampson that her family was flying in from Nigeria for a friendly against Germany. He replied: Well, make sure they dont come over with Ebola. (Sampson denied saying this for a long time after.) Aluko says she laughed nervously but was left reeling. She told her England teammate Lianne Sanderson, but said she wasnt going to make a big deal of it. She wanted to focus on her football.

At one point, Kendall, a close friend of Sampson, started speaking to her in a fake Caribbean accent. It infuriated Aluko not least because she isnt from the Caribbean. I was often tempted to speak to him in a Scottish accent, despite knowing he was Welsh, just to make the point.

Eniola
Im an optimistic, positive person normally, but I was miserable during that time. Photograph: Perou/The Guardian

Then she started to notice other things happening to black members of the squad. In October 2015, Chelseas midfielder Drew Spence was called up to the England squad for the first time, for a trip to China. Spence told Aluko that, in a meeting of midfielders, Sampson turned to the newcomer and said: Havent you been arrested before, then? Four times, isnt it? Spence was the only non-white player in the room and has never been arrested. After making these remarks, Sampson never picked her again for England; she still has only two caps.

A few days later, the midfielder Jill Scott was feted when she won her 100th cap against Australia speeches were made, she captained the team, a video message was played from her family. In the same match, Sanderson won her 50th cap another considerable milestone, normally celebrated with a special shirt but this was ignored. Sanderson told Aluko she was devastated; with Alukos encouragement, she told Sampson how upset she was, but asked him not to make an issue of it in front of the team. The following day, he addressed the squad, said he had made a mistake in not acknowledging her 50th cap and presented her with a special shirt. Sanderson was never selected for England again.

While Sampson did not drop Aluko, he told her repeatedly that he couldnt rely on her, that she lacked stamina and heart, that she was selfish and didnt play for the team. After Aluko scored a hat-trick in a 10-0 thrashing of Montenegro, Sampson presented her with the ball, telling the team: We all know Eni is a pain in the arse, but she did well to score a hat-trick after I gave her the target of scoring five goals today.

Aluko was still reluctant to draw attention to Sampsons behaviour. As black players, you dont always want to be bringing these issues up. You want to just play football. You know that the accusations of playing the race card are going to come up. So I would bite my tongue. Id see the level of ignorance, roll my eyes and get on with it.

And so it continued. Aluko says the only thing that kept her going was her desperation to reach 100 caps and become the first British-African woman to do so. When it finally happened, in February 2016, the occasion was soured by Sampson. She says he refused to give her advanced notice she would be playing, so she could invite her family. Then, on the morning of the match, Sampson told her she wasnt in the starting 11 because he wanted to field his strongest team. In the end, he brought her on in the second half and the captain, Steph Houghton, handed her the captains band. But by then she was inconsolable.

Three months later, in May 2016, the FA invited Aluko to participate in a confidential culture review about her experiences as a black woman in the England team. She agreed to a phone interview in which she said that she felt demoralised, and that under Sampsons management her negative experiences outweighed the positive ones.

Twelve days later, she was visited by Sampson at Chelseas ground and told she was being dropped from the England squad for un-Lionness behaviour and a bad attitude in the previous camp. A shocked Aluko asked for examples. Sampson told her she had been withdrawn and that her behaviour differed depending on whether or not she was in the starting lineup. Aluko hasnt played for England since.

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Aluko gives evidence to the digital, culture, media and sport committee in October 2017. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

She was convinced she had been dropped because Sampson had found out about the supposedly confidential culture review. In June, she wrote to the FA with a grievance report. In August 2016, the head of elite development finally replied, insisting the two were unrelated. The FA told her it would investigate her allegations, but at the same time announced that its Integrity Unit was investigating a consultancy role Aluko had with a football agency. The FA concluded that she would have to stop working for the agency or quit football, because she was in breach of FA intermediary roles. Aluko argued there was no conflict of interest, but surrendered her paid role.

She began to think she wasnt simply involved in a spat with the England management, but that she was at war with the FA. And, as far as Aluko was concerned, the FA was playing dirty.

***

Aluko calls herself an accidental whistleblower. She never planned to sacrifice her career on the altar of justice; she just planned to alert the confidential review to inappropriate behaviour. In a way, she says, all she has ever wanted to do is quietly conform and get on with playing football. But Aluko has always stood out.

Her parents, Sileola and Daniel, moved the family from Lagos to Birmingham when Aluko was six months old. Daniel returned to Nigeria to pursue a career in politics, while Sileola worked first as a nurse and then for a pharmaceutical company, bringing up her children in England. From the age of five, Aluko was the only girl on her estate who played football. She and her younger brother, Sone, also a professional footballer, spent their free time honing their skills. Until she went to secondary school, she says, she never had a female friend. Her football-playing male friends called her Eddie, because it was a bit easier than Eni and a lot easier than Eniola.

Some parents were hostile to Aluko playing football particularly as she was better than their sons. The young Eni was told she was different from all the other girls. She knows she should have been proud, but she felt crushed. If I was talking to my young self, Id say: dont be afraid to be individual. Because I was afraid to be different. When the parents at school said: Whys a girl playing football? it made me feel alien.

It wasnt only football ability that differentiated the Alukos. While the other children on the estate spoke with a broad Brummy accent, Sileola insisted Eni and Sone spoke the Queens English. They might have been living a working-class life, but they did not have working-class roots. In Nigeria, their father had become a prominent politician. Meanwhile, at school, she began to learn how complex prejudice can be. I didnt get racism from the white girls, but I got really bad bullying from the black Caribbean girls who saw something in me that they didnt understand. They used to call me African bhuttu, which was patois for unsophisticated. And they called me Coconut because I spoke well and hung around with white people.

At the age of 15, she joined Birmingham City Ladies, where her coach Marcus Bignot labelled her the Wayne Rooney of womens football; like Rooney, she was short and muscular with an explosive burst of pace. That year, she was called up to the England youth squad. At her first camp, her skills made her stand out. I flicked the ball over somebodys head, brought it down and did a Cruyff turn and Hope Powell [Sampsons predecessor at England] stopped the session and said: Its not the Eni show. I remember thinking: well, Im not going to do that again. Ill just get it and pass it. Now she says she wishes she had followed her instincts it would have made her a better player. For her, that was a big difference between the boys and girls games while boys were encouraged to nurture their individuality, girls were scolded for it.

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Aluko was once labelled the Wayne Rooney of womens football. Photograph: Perou/The Guardian

Despite that desire to conform, there was already something unusually forthright about her. After discovering her cousin Fola had become a high-flying lawyer in New York, and reading To Kill A Mockingbird, she decided she wanted to become Atticus Finch and save lives. By then, Aluko says, she saw an injustice lurking on every corner. A boy in her class was bullied for his afro. Rather than defending him, the school banned afros. Aluko was outraged not least because one boy had long, dyed-green hair and nothing was said about it. She went to see the headteacher, who heard her out and told her she was changing the rules enforcing short hair for all the boys. It taught her that justice doesnt always look the way you want it to. That Christmas, the school awarded her a special prize for speaking up for others.

***

After Aluko put her grievance into writing in 2016, an internal investigation cleared Sampson and the management team of any wrongdoing. Aluko threatened to take the FA to court. The FA held a second investigation, this time hiring the barrister Katharine Newton to examine the evidence. In March 2017, it again cleared Sampson and his staff of wrongdoing, but Aluko was paid 80,000 in an out-of-court settlement.

In August that year, the findings were leaked to the Daily Mail, along with information about the settlement. Aluko was horrified by the way she was portrayed. The Mail did not mention the racism, only that Aluko had made allegations of bullying and harassment against Sampson and his staff. It suggested that the FA paid her the money only because it wanted to avoid disruption in the buildup to Euro 2017, that she was making problems because she had lost her place in the squad, and that her teammates didnt like her. In fact, the payout was for loss of earnings.

As for the report itself, Aluko calls it a shambles. It basically said: Eni lied about racism. Mark Sampson never said anything racist. The team is very happy. Weve interviewed a lot of players, and they say its a great culture. How did she feel when she saw it? I was gutted. Gutted. I was publicly being called a liar.

Does she think the FA set out to destroy her? She nods. It wasnt about Mark Sampson any more. It was about Eni Aluko versus the FA David versus Goliath. The PR machine of the FA was Make Eni look as bad as possible. It was a smear campaign.

Did anything ring true? Well, she says, the report was accurate that she had become withdrawn. Im an optimistic, positive person normally, but I was miserable during that time. You have a lot of downtime on England camps, so I was in my room on my own trying to get through it. I didnt really socialise with anybody. How did she cope? I have a strong faith in God. Id watch stuff from my favourite preachers about opposition and how to face adversity. Did she lose faith at any point? No, I think my faith got stronger, because in that period thats all I had.

***

In August 2017, Aluko told her side of the story to Daniel Taylor of the Guardian (she is now a columnist for the sports pages of this paper). She revealed that Sampson had made the Ebola comment and asked an unnamed mixed-race England player how many times she had been arrested. A month later, Spence told the FA that she was the player in question and that everything Aluko had said was true. The Professional Footballers Association called for a new investigation, accusing the FA of holding a sham review that was not designed to establish the truth, but intended to protect Mark Sampson.

Five days after Spence came forward, England played Russia. Every member of the team raced to the bench to celebrate with Sampson after Nikita Parris scored the opener for England in a 6-0 win. Aluko says that was when she finally cracked. I cried my eyes out when I saw that. Players can celebrate how they want, but in the midst of the case I just thought it was too much. I felt really, really low at that point.

A day later, the FA sacked Sampson out of the blue, stressing that it was nothing to do with the racism allegations. It emerged that he was forced out because of a relationship he had had with a player three years earlier when he was managing Bristol Academy. In January 2019, Sampson received a payout from the FA for unfair dismissal.

Eniola
Aluko says she is comforted by the number of female footballers who have spoken out in the past couple of years. Since her case, the American womens team have pursued an equal pay dispute. And Ada Hegerberg, Norways top player has said: I dont like the way things are happening [regarding unequal pay]. Photograph: Perou/The Guardian. Adidas Originals track top 74.95, Adidas Originals, adidas.co.uk.

A third investigation was ordered into Alukos allegations and, in October 2017, Newton concluded that Sampson had racially abused Aluko and Spence. While stressing that she did not regard Sampson as a racist, Newton said: I have concluded that, on two separate occasions, Sampson has made ill-judged attempts at humour, which, as a matter of law, were discriminatory on the grounds of race within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. The FA apologised to Aluko and Spence.

A month later, the FA was accused of a cover-up after saying that Kendall would not face action, while concealing the fact that he had admitted putting on a mock Caribbean accent to Aluko. Kendall resigned as goalkeeping coach and apologised to her.

This January, 16 months after losing his job, Sampson also apologised to Aluko and Spence, saying: As a white male, I needed to do more and Ive worked hard to educate myself. I spent six weeks with Kick It Out on their educational course for equality and diversity. I need to play a more active role in making a difference. Its something I will do for the rest of my life.

***

How did Aluko feel when she read the final report? Elated. Vindicated. Since the FAs apology, she says, they have been building bridges. After the case, they asked me to be part of the recommendations with UK Sport to build whistleblowing procedures. Where possible, she says, she wants to forgive. Forgiveness is an action, a decision. I had a decision to make. Am I going to hold on to a lot of this pain and frustration with how they treated me, or am I going to try to build a lasting relationship that will impact change moving forward? I had the opportunity to try to do something that was positive with the FA and I did that.

Have fellow players apologised to her? Silence. Erm a few of the Chelsea girls have, yeah. She mentions her former Chelsea teammates Fran Kirby and Karen Carney close friends and women she hugely respects. As for Spence, Aluko says their relationship is stronger than ever. Drew is somebody I probably speak to every other day more than anyone else in football. But Aluko is less forgiving towards members of the squad for not supporting her. To this day, Steph Houghton and a lot of leaders in that team have not come out and apologised to me for what I went through. People say: Dyou want them to sacrifice their careers for you? No, I dont. But I do expect a team of people to say: we do not share these values, we do not accept that what the manager said was correct. She bangs the table as she talks.

Would she go for a drink with them now? No. With quite a few of them, categorically no. Because what they represent is fundamentally the opposite to me. In what way? Just not being able to come out and say: for my teammate to go through this, for racism to be even talked about in this team, is unacceptable.

In June 2018, Aluko left England to play for Juventus. She has enjoyed a hugely successful year there winning the league and cup double, finishing the season as the clubs top scorer. But, despite her impressive form, Aluko did not make the England squad for this years World Cup.

Does she ever think how differently life might have turned out if she had kept her mouth shut? Yes. This summer I was doing media at the World Cup. But Im only 32 and I could have played. I think my England career would have lasted longer than it did. At the point I decided to tell the story, I knew it was going to cost me my England career.

She pauses, then says something surprising. And thats a very powerful position to be in. Why? Because a lot of players, all they can think about is their pay cheque and the fact that they want to play football, so they dont say anything. So they dont end up leaving any legacy for the next person who comes along, and its going to happen to them, too. I would like to think that, next time a player complains about something going on, and not just a black player, it wont be accepted.

One thing that has comforted her is the number of female footballers who have spoken out in the past couple of years. Im not going to take credit for this, but, since my case, both the Australia and New Zealand womens teams have publicly complained about the culture of fear; the American womens team are in an equal pay dispute and probably going to win. Ada Hegerberg, Norways top player and the best player in the world, said: I dont like the way things are happening [regarding unequal pay]. Im not playing in the World Cup. There are many examples of women standing up and saying: were not having this any more.

Unfortunately, this list includes few of her former teammates. Not surprisingly, she says, they now seem uncomfortable when they see her.

Will she ever make up with them? Aluko shakes her head. I dont need to. My life has moved on. Everybody knows what I stand for. That is far more powerful than being an England player who puts on an England shirt and plays well. As much as the England management and the FA, Aluko feels bitterly betrayed by her own colleagues. I would much rather be where Im sat than where theyre sat, because people question them to this day. People say it to me all the time: I find it difficult to support the womens team because of how they behaved. We all have moments in life when our fundamental morals are called into question. In the face of what happened to me, they did nothing. People remember that.

An exclusive extract from Alukos memoir: No one could teach me how to navigate this hyphenated identity

It was being called up to play for England that made me understand I wasnt officially British. Not yet, at least. Not on paper.

A few months after I joined the youth team of Birmingham City Ladies, in 2001, we were scheduled to play a tournament in Warwick, and our coach Marcus Bignot told us England scouts would be there. The final whistle blew on the tournament and I jogged over to my dad, who was visiting from Nigeria. One of the scouts approached, told me Id played well, took my details and said hed be in touch. That was it.

It wasnt long before the first letter from England landed on our doorstep. Mum! I called out. England want me to go to an under-15s trial! Later, she got the letter framed and hung it in the hallway. I think she saw it as something that anchored us even deeper in the UK; one of us could be representing the country.

The trial was at Loughborough University. As the date approached, Mum started to worry about what I was going to wear. Appearances have always been important to her. I told her Id just wear my training stuff, but she wouldnt hear of it. The week before the trial, we went shopping and bought a pencil skirt, a collared shirt, a suit jacket and high heels to match.

The day came and Mum drove me up to Loughborough. Parents were invited to stay for a short introductory briefing with the manager, Hope Powell. We pulled into the car park and I spotted a couple of other girls walking into the building.

Oh, God, I said, horrified. Theyre all wearing tracksuits.

We stepped inside the building, my stomach doing backflips. Thirty or 40 girls sat with their parents, every one of them in a tracksuit and trainers. I swear I heard a murmur ripple around the room, as the girls looked round and nudged each other. I lowered my head and clip-clopped over to a seat in the far back corner. A few minutes later, Powell walked into the room and launched into a business-like introduction. I didnt hear a word she said. The second the talk was over, I jumped up and ran off to change into my training gear. Ive never lived it down.

A few weeks later, a letter arrived saying Id been picked for a week-long camp. I scanned the letter and took it into the kitchen to show to Mum. I began reading it out loud, then I stopped. Oh no, I said. Mum, they want me to bring my passport. What are we going to do? Mum frowned. She had applied to make us all British citizens, but the paperwork, the checks, the tests it all took a long time. It had never crossed my mind I would need to be naturalised as British to play for England. We had leave to remain, which meant we could stay in the country as long as we wanted.

I felt entirely British. Id lived in England my whole life; it was the only home I knew. I was so tired of being the odd one out. I felt a familiar despair rising, one I was coming to associate with my British-Nigerian identity.

Passports were a big deal for the Nigerian community in the UK. A red British passport was a prized possession for those who had been in the UK long enough to own one alongside the Nigerian document, known as a green pali. To hold a British passport was a gateway to the world. Mum mentioned our problem to Dad, to her Nigerian friends and family. Listen, said one uncle, who liked to flaunt that he was a British citizen by birth. If she dares show up with green pali, theyll send that child straight back. She has to be Britico now, dont you know that?

I felt like an alien in my own country. If I wasnt British, then what was I? I thought back to my last visit to Nigeria. I felt like a foreigner there, too.

Every day Id wake up and hope the document would drop on to the doormat. Every day it wasnt there and the camp was another day nearer.

In the end, I took an acknowledgement from the Home Office proving Mum had applied for naturalisation, together with a note she wrote. It was all we had. Thankfully, the coaches were more relaxed than expected.

A few months later, my passport finally arrived. Mum emptied the burgundy books out on to the table, alongside our Nigerian documents. Now you can travel wherever you want, she said.

I saw for the first time what this process meant. Getting a red passport was more than a formality. It was about status. She had been an adult when she first came to the UK, and all this time she had been a foreigner. She had worked hard to forge new paths for herself and her children. I turned over the little red book in my hand and stroked the gold coat of arms on the front. I picked out my old Nigerian passport and held it in my other hand. Two passports, two identities.

No one could teach me how to navigate this hyphenated identity. For me, being British-Nigerian is a tightrope Ill be on for the rest of my life. And whenever I wobble, or feel others are trying to pull me in one direction or the other, I grab on to my hyphen and remember Ill always be both.

They Dont Teach This by Eniola Aluko is published by Yellow Jersey Press (14.99). To order a copy for 10.99, go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK P&P on online orders over 15. Phone orders minimum P&P of 1.99.

If you would like a comment on this piece to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazines letters page in print, please email weekend@theguardian.com, including your name and address (not for publication).

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What does Phoebe Robinson wish to see when she shows up at the Edinburgh edge. Just lots of dudes smuggling their bangers and also mash in their kilts.


 

Is the fringe ready for the brash standup who utilized to get paid in nachos as well as chicken wings? We fulfill one fifty percent of 2 Dope Queens as she loads her shoes with sweat

What does Phoebe Robinson wish to see when she shows up at the Edinburgh edge? Just lots of dudes smuggling their bangers and also mash in their kilts. Observational comic, sharp social doubter, signee of a handle ABC workshops, bestselling writer (You Cant Touch My Hair & Various Other Things I Still Have to Describe) as well as one fifty percent of 2 Dope Queens (the podcast duo transformed HBO stars), Robinson has an ideology: that comedy parched, spontaneous, periodically gross, with riffs on Googling David Bowies penis dimension after learning he has passed away can be a force for great.

At Edinburgh, Robinson will explore her show, called Sorry, Harriet Tubman, which covers sex stuff as well as race stuff yet additionally discussing accidents in the bedroom during sex, just like lower-brow points. So I think that itll be type of a conclusion of where Im at in my life today. It suggests, like a lot of her job, that if we can be truthful concerning our greatly mistaken selves as well as our profoundly mistaken culture, possibly we can make our globe a little less screwed up. Or at the very least tell a couple of decent fart jokes along the road.

The title, she states, stems from a running joke she and likewise her other dope queen The Daily Exposes Jessica Williams used to make on the podcast, concerning just how dissatisfied Tubman would certainly be, because, you understand, she basically led servants to freedom on the below ground railway and additionally Im like I simply wan na wreck Michael B Jordan, Robinson states.
I ask her exactly how she has actually pulled down Tubman this week. Its only Tuesday, she items. Nevertheless after that she births in mind exactly how that day or the day previously, she and her person had been exercising at the fitness center in her structure, which while practicing a curtsy lunge, an incredibly sophisticated action, she merely discharge like the loudest, wettest fart. Her companion has his earphones in, however he still heard it. So I thought that was an ensured dissatisfaction for Harriet, she specifies.
Robinson suches as to think of Tubman, her honorable face flecked with a solitary, excellent Demi-Moore-in-Ghost tear, hearing that fart as well, and questioning if discovering to browse by the North Star had truly deserved it.

As authentic as possible Robinson did a standup course and fell in love with it.

The comic, that describes herself as an off-brand Oprah, expanded up in Americas midwest, enjoying the sitcoms Moesha as well as Martin, and the sketch show In Living Color. She was an ironical child, but not one that might always fracture a joke. Funny was never her endgame. Yet in university, she signed up with an improv performers, and also after college, while functioning as an executive aide, a pal convinced her to take a standup course and she dropped in love, executing any place she could, from clubs to biker bars. She was usually paid in nachos. Or chicken wings.

Some comics will create a character, yet Robinsons persona is herself, with all the Instagram filters shut off. Her strategy, she claims, is to be as authentic as feasible and also her brand, she states, is similar to kind of not taking myself also seriously.

She had gotten here for lunch, at a drowsy Brooklyn restaurant, in streamlined sunglasses, worn denims, and also a pink T-shirt checking out Bonjour yall. Her sweetheart whom she calls British Baekoff (he is British, he is her bae, he takes pleasure in cooking) had actually asked her not wear it on the Paris Mtro and also which she had of program used on the Paris Mtro. So the not taking herself also seriously point checks out.

When 2 Dope Queens relocated to HBO, Robinson would typically record discounts without makeup or while pretending that her wig was doing the talking. Fifty percent the time Im doing something truly stupid as well as I can much like conceal it, but Im like, thats who I am, she claims.

She doesn ‘t recognize just how, or if, her oversharing design will certainly convert to the UK, yet her partner has actually alerted her that British target markets can be more suppressed. They might not be hooting and shrieking, yet that doesn ‘t mean they ‘reOriginal message also short.Original message as well short.Original text too brief. not enjoying, she guarantees herself. The possibility does not make her remotely as worried as the moment she and Williams talked to among her heroes, Michelle Obama (various other heroes: Oprah, Bono, her moms and dads, her huge bro). When she stood up after the meeting, her shoes had plenty of sweat. I was really nervous concerning sliding and also falling, she states. Thats how much sweat remained in my footwear!

Funny, which is still really white and also still really male, hasn’t always rated to such females as her, and also she does not love concerns concerning exactly how to enhance things. It needs to be a teamwork and till straight dudes are expected to roll up their sleeves as well as get to function, she states, Im over being inquired about what males need to do. What does she need to do? Talk as honestly and truthfully as she can around hookups as well as periods and sexism and racism as well as the errors of white-lady feminism as well as shapewear knowing that the funny will constantly discover its method there.

 

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