cbc black producers

Activist says the CBC is silencing Black voices

A Toronto activist is bringing to light a recent experience she had with Canada's national public broadcaster, who she says is not doing its job to properly address anti-Blackness.

Sandy Hudson, vice-chair of the Black Legal Action Centre, says she was asked by the CBC to speak about George Floyd and Amy Cooper on its news radio program The Current this week.

The incidents with Floyd, the Black man who died after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, and Cooper, the woman who called the cops on Black resident Christian Cooper for asking her to put her dog on a leash, are among those that have sparked widespread protests around the U.S. and Canada in recent days.

When Hudson was tapped to be a guest on the program, she was eager to talk about both incidents, as well as about Regis Korchinski-Paquet, the Toronto woman who fell from a 24th-floor balcony to her death during an interaction with police last week. 

But, the CBC told her that there would not be time on the segment to address all of the recent examples of anti-Black racism that are sparking international movements in response — a statement that is itself a testament to the magnitude of the issue.

On top of this, Hudson believes that some statements she made in the pre-interview about police got her cut from the show.

"She asked me, 'What's next? Where do you think we go next?'" Hudson said on Friday in Facebook and Twitter posts recounting her experience with the show's producer.

"I focused my answer on defunding the police... and at some point the producer interrupted me and said, 'Excuse me? I'm sorry, did you just say *defund* the police? I just wanna make sure I heard you properly' (sounding incredulous)," she continued.

After Hudson finished her response advocating for lower police budgets and the implementation of alternative frontline services, she says the producer warned her that the network had "a bunch of people chasing this story" and that they would "circle back if we can have you on." 

She never ended up appearing on the show, which she believes is due to her response to that final question.

"This is the way that Canadian media consistently refuses to engage with Canadian anti-Blackness. This is how white supremacy operates in Canadian media. And this is how journalists are complicit in the impacts of anti-Blackness," Hudson wrote on Facebook.

"If I had said to the question 'what's next?' some shit like 'we hold hands and sing kumbaya and understand one another,' I think I'd have been on the air this morning. But a cogent argument about a concrete thing that could and should be done? Too much for the CBC."

Hudson is among those now urging the CBC and other media to hire more Black producers and journalists, and engage with the hard questions and hard answers that need to be heard right now.

Also, to stop silencing strong voices of people of colour, instead of limiting guests to "the appropriate, acceptable, not too upsetting Black person so you can say you did your duty."

Her Facebook post has since gotten nearly 6,000 reactions and more than 7,000 shares in a matter of days, with many thanking Hudson for speaking out on the matter and drawing attention to it, especially given that the CBC is a Canadian federal Crown corporation (with interests that may reflect that fact).

As some point out in the comments section, such shows may use their pre-interviews to make sure that a guest is "safe and on-topic" — which is problematic when the topic at hand has to do with basic human rights and deep systemic issues that may be uncomfortable to talk about, but need to be righted.

Here's the full text of Sandy Hudson's letter

The CBC needs more Black producers.

I was tapped yesterday to appear on The Current this morning to discuss "George Floyd and Amy Cooper."

When I asked if we would also be talking about Regis Korchinski-Paquet, I was told:

"I checked with the team, and while we want to look at the issue as a whole we do want to focus on George Lloyd and Amy Cooper. It's an 8 min slot so if we start to get into all the other elements of the conversation (Regis, Breonna), we would run out of time."

In my pre-interview, the producer went on to say that the focus of the piece was "American racism" and that there wouldn't be time to talk about "Canadian issues," though she had heard about it and thought "of course" it was important.

I reminded her that Amy Cooper is Canadian, and told her to go ahead with the pre-interview questions so I could show her that I am quite skilled at ensuring that a local issue relevant to the CBC's audience could be raised within the time constraint (note: the producer didn't know who I was or why I had been suggested for the piece).

We did the pre-interview and everything was going well until the final question.

She asked me, "what's next? Where do you think we go next?"

I focused my answer on defunding the police. I made an argument about how the police budget in Toronto is outrageous, and that especially in this time of pandemic, it did not make sense that a reduction in police funding was not a priority discussion.

I spoke about how the police budget "eats up 24 per cent of every homeowner’s property taxes (by comparison, the TTC constitutes 15 per cent). Policing costs the taxpayer more than firefighters, paramedics, libraries and public housing combined." 

I also spoke about the need to develop an alternative, non-police, front-line service for emergency mental health support, and a refusal to engage in anti-Black PR exercises (like the $25 million Trudeau allocated to Black communities in 2017's budget that has yet to be spent.

Basically the same shit we've been saying since 2016 because we're stuck in a cruel and maddening time loop.

Anyway at some point the producer interrupted me and said, "excuse me? I'm sorry, did you just say *defund* the police? I just wanna make sure I heard you properly"(sounding incredulous).

I said yes and continued with my response. She then said (and no Current or CBC producer has *ever* said this to me), "okay, well, just so you know we have a bunch of people chasing this story so I don't know if we'll be able to confirm.....um...I'll circle back if we can have you on."

I was not on The Current this morning. I didn't listen, and don't know who was, but I do know this:

This is the way that Canadian media consistently refuses to engage with Canadian anti-Blackness. This is how white supremacy operates in Canadian media. This is how misogynoir operates in Canadian media.

And this is how journalists are complicit in the impacts of anti-Blackness. If I had said to the question "what's next?" some shit like "we hold hands and sing kumbaya and understand one another" I think I'd have been on the air this morning. But a cogent argument about a concrete thing that could and should be done? Too much for the CBC.

Well, that's how anti-Blackness works in the media. Keep searching until you find the appropriate, acceptable, not too upsetting Black person so you can say you did your duty.

Sick and tired of the CBC's bullshit.

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