A Channel 4 documentary fails to grasp why some minorities lean conservative
Last night, Channel 4 aired a 45-minute documentary titled Young, Black and Right-Wing, presented by popular TV and YouTube personality Zeze Millz. The film seeks to explore the “seemingly growing” number of black Right-wing voices both in politics and in the media. This counters the widely claimed notion that not only do most black people have Left-wing views but that they should have Left-wing views. If they deviate from these expectations, they are burdened with racist labels from supposed progressives.
The documentary builds on an increasing number of TV shows exploring the diversity of opinion among black Britons, such as Channel 4’s Unapologetic (co-hosted by Millz) and BBC’s We Are Black and British. While it is welcome to see a genuine attempt to illuminate a broader range of perspectives and question received wisdom about ethnic minority groups, the film fails to understand why these young black people think the way they do and show how, in many senses, their views are more in line with majority ethnic minority opinion.
The first young Right-winger Millz speaks to is Hannah, a TikTok influencer whose parents are refugees from Ethiopia. Hannah, who grew up on a council estate, does not believe systemic racism exists. She maintains that other factors, such as family breakdown, which disproportionately affects black British people, are more important contributors to lower socio-economic outcomes than race. In response, Millz brings up data which show that black men are more likely to be unemployed than white men and suggests this is clear evidence of racism.
But the problem is that this doesn’t necessarily disprove Hannah’s point. Millz, through the film, commits the common fallacy that a racial disparity must equate to racism when this isn’t necessarily true. For example, the average ethnic minority person has a higher life expectancy than their white counterparts, but we would not put this down to reverse racism. This inability to seriously interrogate how a range of variants may contribute to disparities means that the conversation on the programme rarely moved beyond a debate about racism and thus, at times, remained somewhat shallow.
Millz fails to see the irony of how she, a privately-educated woman, who has acknowledged that her mother owned two houses, shouts down Hannah’s understanding of her own lived experience when Hannah, at least on paper, had grown up with significantly more disadvantaged than her.
Millz repeats this unfortunate dynamic later on in the programme when she has a chance encounter with a young, working-class black man in Bolton (one of the most deprived areas of the UK) who draws upon his experience to explain how inequality is more down to what your “postal code defines you as”, not race. He explains how he has seen people, black and white, in his area restricted by similar forms of social disadvantage. It was an unintentional insight into how many ordinary working-class black voices are often locked out of these debates, and how many of these views do not neatly fall in liberal-Left lines.
This is further highlighted when, in one scene, Millz gets into a heated debate with Hannah and a fellow young black Christian activist about abortion, as neither of the two believes it should be allowed in any circumstance. While I vehemently disagree with their views, large swathes of ‘black opinion’ would support these arguments.
In fact, it is Millz’s hyper-liberal attitudes to sex and relationships which would seemingly contrast with the predominantly traditional Christian attitudes of most black British people. Many of Millz’s views have much more in common with the middle-class white mainstream than they do with strongly faith-oriented ethnic minority Britons.
Ultimately black people — like any racial group — cannot be lumped into one category. As people are all different, they will inevitably come up with varying views. As racism diminishes, so too will a growing number of black Britons no longer see their views as defined by it. This is surely a positive development.