Shirley and the coconuts

Shirley and the Coconuts … Sounds a bit like a band that had a couple of top ten hits with some sharp calypso inflected disco tunes in the early eighties – courtesy of Hopkins, Rogers and Wright, the legendary production team behind Bristol’s ‘Shit Machine’ studios – doesn’t it?

Alas not. This is not an East Bristol Lib Dems story. There’s no tales of excessive cocaine use and basement orgies with a humorous denouement featuring Hopkins later career as an oddly mustachioed lothario during the soft porn video boom of the mid-eighties I’m afraid.

No, this is all about the quality of debate in our very own council chamber where Florida’s Lib Dem councillor for St Pauls, Shirley Marshall, during a budget debate on er, equalities, called Tory Councillor Jay Jethwa a “coconut”!

This occurred immediately prior to Bunter Eddy condemning Peter Hammond as a “wigga” and just before Bristol’s Lib Dem spokesman for George Galloway’s Respect Party, Abdul Malik, had called for the establishment of a caliphate in his Easton Ward under the supreme leadership of contemporary socialism’s finest exponent, the Grand Ayatollah Yoyo Knickers Ridley.

Actually, I might be making some of this up. The real tale in all its grisly glory is available at the Evening Cancer here.

The story’s also now been picked up by The Sun, where we find Shirley – who was forced by her boss, Babs Janke, to apologise just yesterday – now backtracking with all sorts of justifications for her racism. She wails:

The remarks were not meant as a racist slur and they were taken out of context.

And in what context do you think it’s acceptable for you to call an Asian woman a coconut then Shirley? Then we get this good old standby:

How can I be a racist when I’m black?

Quite fucking easily Shirley. In exactly the same way as any person who has a problem with Asians can be. Next question please.

Meanwhile, local black campaigner Paul Stephenson has now waded into the row to shred what remains of his credibility telling the Cancer, “coconut is not a racist term”!

As Stephenson crawls ever further up the British establishment’s arse, jettisoning anything resembling a coherent political outlook, is he adopting the Lewis Carroll approach to racism?

Racism means exactly what I say it does. No more. No less.

All-in-all then a pretty bad few weeks for our ‘Beacon City for promoting racial equality‘.

Just a couple of weeks back we learnt that the city council was partnership working uncritically with notorious Jihadist and anti-semitic organisations. Now we have senior members of the city’s black establishment telling us that calling Asians coconuts is not racist.

Even Marshall and Stephenson’s desperate last-ditch claims that all this equalities funding is vital in supporting severely deprived communities is open to question. Check recent minutes (pdf) of the increasingly notorious Legacy Commission and you’ll find a discussion around how much of an honorarium the committee should award Mr Stephenson for his sterling voluntary work for all these vulnerable people.

Yes. That is the sound of a committee patting themselves on the back and awarding themselves money at the expense of the genuinely vulnerable … Nice.

It must be said, Bunter Eddy’s budget equalities debate has served a really good purpose here. It’s revealed a total crisis in the city’s race relations industry, which appears – to those of us on the outside at least – to be out of touch, out of date and hiding some pretty objectionable attitudes.

Isn’t it time to move on from the tired 1980s-style identity politics promoted and supported by this small clique of vested interests and get some race relations policies for the city that reflect and recognise the multicultural realities of the 21st century?

It’s an embarrassing shambles at the moment.

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31 Responses to Shirley and the coconuts

  1. Anony -y-mousey says:

    “Isn’t it time to move on from the tired 1980s-style identity politics promoted and supported by this small clique of vested interests and get some race relations policies for the city that reflect and recognise the multicultural realities of the 21st century?”


    We all seem to be policy ; rights and race bound why in this the 2009 year ad or Let’s assume that the current year is incorrect—it is not actually 2008. I hear you ask, “Well what year is it then?'”

    The truth is, nobody knows for sure. Nobody had an accurate calender or timepiece to judge what year it was 20000 years ago.

    Both religions of Christianity and Islam have their own calendars, but both are calculated on the lives of two religious figures. Why do humans accept the ideologies of religion as an accurate representation of time? The year might actually be 43,285,692, the timeline of all human existence. Who knows for sure???

    My point [apologies for taking so long to get to it is that we might just as easily be brothers and sisters on this plain we call Earth [ I digress]

    Why are hundreds of thousands of pounds being placed into racialy sensitive projects [ I am not a conservative ] My upbringing was amongst children of all creeds and colours I have no integration problems with anyone I would hope – I feel deeply that all this money can be spent a great deal more effectively on other things than to continue the way things are.

    Bristol City Council has a BME charter why? isnt that racist to other tenants? This could go on forever the point here is we should all be able to get along if we cant then there is something very wrong in this day and age. All people should be protected not just because they come from a certain country or carry skin pigmentation that isnt the same as a majority in a certain country.

    If we as a City need to argue this out then so be it but allowing Government ;Council or even small organisations to continue to allow racial tensions because they want to be different then we must be a very sad bunch of skin and bones walking

  2. Black on White,White on Black says:

    What a crock of s### these continued race card issues are. Were is the protection for the caucasian? White folks ? Yellow? any colour you wish to say.

    There suerely can be no mistake here Shirley Brown made a comment that was not only racist to Asians it was racist to White folks .

  3. Clint's Brave old world says:

    Clint Eastwood: We’d all like to be a racist for 10 minuntes By Nicola Methven 28/02/2009

    Clint Eastwood has astonished film fans by complaining that it is a shame people no longer feel able to make jokes about other races.

    The 78-year-old Hollywood legend said he believed everyone would secretly like to be like the racist character he plays in his new film “for about 10 minutes”.

    Clint added: “When I grew up everybody didn’t take themselves so seriously.

    “People would kid themselves about everybody, whatever race they were, whatever ethnic, religious groups they were.

    Advertisement – article continues below »
    “Everybody would joke about it and everybody got along just fine. But then we’ve come to this now where everybody has to be walking on eggshells, kind of very sensitive. And so it’s become boring.”

    In Gran Torino Clint plays Walt Kowalski, a bigoted Korean war veteran who is unhappy at the number of Chinese immigrants moving into his home town.

    At a party to launch the film, Clint said the rise of political correctness meant people were now “walking on eggshells” where matters of race were concerned.

    He added: “People have lost their sense of humour. In former times we constantly made jokes about different races. You can only tell them today with one hand over your mouth otherwise you will be insulted as a racist.”

    “I think everybody would like to be Walt Kowalski for 10 minutes.”

  4. Ella says:

    Lol reactionaries. Clint Eastwood is actually showing his age- he grew up in a time I am so glad we’ve moved on from.

    Some people need to look at race issues logically instead of saying ‘we’re all just the same human beings so we should have entirely the same stuff and race be ignored’ because the world doesn’t work like that regardless of the fact that it should. I don’t need protecting in the UK as a white person. I am however inadequately protected as a woman and have encountered some horrendous gender-related treatment that my boyfriend never will. Some white men like to think they’re the only group in society without rights but the thing they are too stupid to realise is they’re the only group in society who do not have their rights ever called into question because of either of those factors. Their rights may be called into question as workers, as tenants, as anything else but whilst living in England they won’t be hastled for being white and I think it’s self-pitying fantasy to imagine they will.
    I went to school in South Tottenham so naturally I was one of about five white people in my year group (not even an exaggeration) and in year 10 I found out they had my ethnicity down as ‘Afro-Carribean’ which was really funny. Anyway I ended up finding out because I won an ‘Afro-Carribean achievement award’- an award handed out to black students who did well in their year 9 SATs. Did I complain? No. Am I proud of it? Hell yeah. Do I think it’s wrong I didn’t get a White Folk Achiement award? No, not really. Afro-Carribean students were the ones who by and large struggled the most and living in an area like Tottenham there were also problems for the black community that reached far beyond the school gates. There needs to be funding to help this section of society- funding that goes into projects that can obviously be accessed by anyone, to benefit the whole community, but which are directly inclusive. The idea that is increases racial tension is slightly mad. If it increases racial tension it’s probably got more to do with the a kind of BNP ideology.
    The most pressing and relevant issue in equality will always be class. It is the card in society that encompases race and gender and is often where the problems stem from. However we live in society that tolerates tacit but hypnotising racism in all forms of media, a rising BNP membership and a traditionally right-wing political consensus that has seperated us from Europe. Therefore race will always be an issue until we create a society where ethnic minorites or your skin colour is not dividing line in society. It’s not inclusive funding that propagates this, I know from experience. It’s a refusal to accept non-white people experience society often differently from white people. If you think we live in an age of overriding equality you need to get out more and possibly leave Bristol for a while because when I bring all my friends here they laugh about how ‘white it is’ in a quaint kind of way.
    Some people need to watch their own TV programmes. Remember Inside Out Bristol weeks ago revealing there were Bristol companies and jobs agencies willing to discriminate and not offer jobs to people who were, by their own actual definition ‘not normal.’

  5. Gary Hopkins' merkin says:

    Excellent post Ella.

  6. chris hutt says:

    Ella, maybe we white males don’t experience discrimination or harassment specifically for being white or male, but there are plenty of other forms of discrimination and harassment which can just as easily wreck someone’s life chances and leave them bitter and resentful – I should know.

    Why discriminate against different sorts of discrimination? Why not accept that discrimination happens, always has and always will? The types of discrimination change over time, in part as a result of people campaigning against one type or another, but discrimination per se doesn’t go away.

    The way to deal with any particular manifestation of discrimination is for the victims themselves to fight against it. Fate puts some of us at the sharp end and we must accept that our destiny is to fight, or to back off and seek some consolation living off the taxpayer, via Legacy Commission funding, cushy council jobs or whatever.

    By the time government, national or local, starts taking action against any particular sort of discrimination the real fight is over and won. Politicians (with a few exceptions), government and other opportunists only get involved when they see that the battle is won and the spoils of victory are ready to be harvested. That is what we see with the Legacy Commission.

  7. Ella says:

    Chris, I said “Their rights may be called into question as workers, as tenants, as anything else but whilst living in England they won’t be hastled for being white.”

    What I meant by that is in any way a person is likely to be discriminated against or have their rights abused etc they should be protected for.

    “Why not accept that discrimination happens, always has and always will?”

    “Why discriminate against different sorts of discrimination?”
    No one is saying you should. I certainly never said that if you read my post.

    These people aren’t ‘living off the taxpayer.’ Do you reckon people involved with the LC don’t pay tax?

    The government themselves legalise awful discrimination. Besides, sometimes you need government for stuff like funding and that

  8. chris hutt says:

    The point I was trying to make is that discrimination can only be fought against by the victims. It is foolish to expect a body as lumbering and slow as the council to wake up to such issues until well after the event, when they start throwing money at problems that have often gone away.

    The fight against racism in this country was fought and won a long time ago. I can’t believe that discrimination on racial grounds is really significant these days. But of course there is discrimination against people because of their background, intelligence, educational record, attitudes, appearance, accent, demeanor, etc. as there always has been. This should not be mistaken for racial discrimination by those who feel they are victims.

    If I was a voter in Ashley ward I would certainly discriminate against Shirley Brown if she ever has the gall to stand again for the seat, not because she is black or a woman but because she is arrogant, self-regarding and stupid. But she would of course cry “racist”.

  9. Jabba the Hut says:


  10. Umm… isn’t the point here that Shirley believes that there is a “black way to think” and a “white way to think”?

    The word “bollocks” springs to mind!

  11. SteveL says:

    My -white- dad grew up experiencing racist discrimination on account of being Irish; it wasn’t that long ago that “No blacks or irish” was a legitimate sign to have up on bedsits; then there was the internments and emergencies of the 1970s. I think even today you could travel around Europe and experience being discriminated against on ethnic grounds. What’s interesting there is that as long as you keep your mouth shut, you aren’t obviously an outsider. But have a different skin colour and you stand out to society, to shop staff, to police -and that can lead to bad experiences.

    What I’ve found strangest -apart from visits to the homeland of Northern Ireland, where the culture of “we are the enemies of the British” are almost as much a defining part of nationalist culture as “we are defending the union against the catholics” are of the other side, was living in the USA post 9/11. All of a sudden, non-citizens were being picked up, and disappeared into a parallel legal system for suspected enemies of the state, one where non-citizens have no rights other than the option to wear orange on their stay in a Cuban extra-legal prison. Every time I travelled through passport checks, when I cycled past the police car that was now staking out the town’s water supply, there was that fear the state would suddenly declare me an enemy, never to been seen again. And that was for me -a white male, for my indian-descended wife, it was even more exposed, as the US did clearly pick on anyone looking vaguely arabic.

    Now if you will excuse me, I must go prepare a dinner of Vegetarian Haggis and Jalaibi for desert, to keep our little one in touch with his heritage.

  12. BristleKRS says:

    Shirley Not A Racist is my ward councillor Ó_ò

  13. thebristolblogger says:

    Do you live in Miami?

  14. BristleKRS says:

    No, it’s just the way I walk 😐

  15. BristleKRS says:

    To Completely Change The Subject, whatever happened to Ray Sefia?

  16. Green eyed monster says:

    Who is (was) Ray Sefia?

  17. Who ,What .When says:

    Tory Party Councillor (Wickbar/Bristol) Roger Talboys – Convicted and jailed for 6 years for multiple sex attacks on children.

  18. BristleKRS says:

    A fine, upstanding member of the community and a former Labour councillor.

  19. thebristolblogger says:

    I think he set up his own business a few years back.

  20. old misery guts says:

    Isnt Ray Sefia at CEED? I heard at the weekend that Kuumba has gone into liquidation – any news on that BB?

  21. Robin says:

    Ray Sefia was running a restaurant on Stokes Croft, doing west african food.

  22. chris hutt says:

    So is someone going to dish the dirt?

  23. “Shirley Not A Racist is my ward councillor Ó_ò”

    And Tony Gosling is your SPuNK rep; you do have it shit don’t you?

  24. BristleKRS says:

    That’s it, rub salt into the wound 🙁

  25. BristleKRS says:

    I think [Ray Sefia] set up his own business a few years back.

    Ray Sefia was running a restaurant on Stokes Croft, doing west african food.

    Ah, yes – it seems he’s behind Kalabash. I rather like it in there.

  26. BristleKRS says:

    So is someone going to dish the dirt?

    Definitely not now I realise he’s only just down the road 😀

  27. China Doll says:

    As I understand it Shirley(not a racist) wanted a funding of £700,00 to teach people about abolition of slavery. Jathwa(not a coconut) objected.
    If this is true then why would someone want to spend this kind of money on a subject that can be taught in Schools for nothing, there are far more important things in Bristol this money can be spent on. Anyway was’nt Britain the forerunners in the abolition of slavery. I get sick of hearing about Bristol being involved in the slave trade, at the time this happened it was the rich and powerful merchants that were involved, the poor were not much more than serfs.
    During and after the war discrimination was used against – the Irish,Jews, Italians,Cypriots,Polish and just about anyone with a foreign name or who looked different, most of whom suffered both physical and mental abuse. When the West Indians and Asians came here, having been asked to help re-build, they were also included in the discrimination. I have lived with all of the above and number many as my friends, we persevered and got on with our lives, intergrating with communities made up of all nationalities. It looks like discrimination has moved on to other minorities now.

  28. inks says:

    “Just a couple of weeks back we learnt that the city council was partnership working uncritically with notorious Jihadist and anti-semitic organisations…”

    It’s hard to take this article seriously when the author believes the Bristol Muslim Cultural Society is a notorious Jihadist and anti-semitic organisation.

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