Actress and fitness studio owner, Kelechi Okafor, has defended recent comments about Jews made by BBC presenter Reggie Yates in which he claimed it was “great” that the young generation of grime music artists is not “managed by some random fat Jewish guy from north west London, they’re managed by their brethren”. Ms Okafor argued that Mr Yates was wrong to apologise for the comments and to step down as a host of the BBC’s Top of the Pops programme.
In her new 24-minute podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud, Ms Okafor addressed Yates’ comments, remarking that she “had a huge problem with people apologising for things that they meant”, adding that Yates’ apology statement was “well-manicured”. She remarked that Yates’ comments were “not problematic”, that he was speaking “the truth”, and that the whole affair demonstrated “the power of a specific community”. Ms Okafor challenged whether these Jewish music managers really are from North West London, adding “I just want to know where the fallacy is”, and that “stereotypes are based on an element on truth”.
Ms Okafor began describing how black entertainers had been “so short changed by the kind of people Reggie Yates describes”. She comments that “all sorts of ethnicities” can be capable of this but adds “the fact is, these men has dominated the industry for decades” and are “taking most of the profits”. She claimed that black artists “are having to work [their] entire arse off while they’re keeping everything”.
Ms Okafor remarks near the end of the podcast that grime, RnB, and hip-hop music have been “diluted” by these supposed Jewish music managers who “like blackness as long as it’s making them money”.
Ms Okafor appears to take umbrage at how the Holocaust receives public attention each year, but that the legacy of slave trade is seemingly ignored. She described how these historical events are responsible for the “power dynamic” she is discussing.
Ms Okafor then turned her attention to Harvey Weinstein, a Jewish figure in the entertainment industry recently accused of sexual assault. She remarks how accusations of inappropriate behaviour from the black actress Lupita Nyong’o were not taken seriously, but that “if you offend one of the more powerful sectors of the community, then off be with your head”. Ms Okafor claimed that what’s happening now is that “people are demanding their pound of flesh, and I am very specific about the reference I just made”. Ms Okafor mentions how the phrase is linked to Shakespeare. The “pound of flesh” is a central plot device in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in which the antagonist Shylock is portrayed as a stereotypical money-grabbing Jew. Shylock has become synonymous with the antisemitic trope that Jews control money and the banks.
It is not likely that Ms Okafor will be apologising for the remarks. Towards the end of the podcast she says that “if people don’t like what I said, they can drink some water and go to sleep”.
When approached privately by Rosa Doherty, a journalist for the JC, who first discovered the podcast, Ms Okafor responded via Twitter: “Hi @Rosa_Doherty thank you for your email regarding my podcast. I appreciate the time you took to reach out to me. What does the Jewish Chronicle do to tackle anti-blackness?”
Campaign Against Antisemitism has now filed a complaint with iTunes, which carries Ms Okafor’s podcast.
Hi Kelechi as I mentioned in the email perhaps it will be more of a constructive conversation if we met face to face?
— Rosa Doherty (@Rosa_Doherty) December 21, 2017