A newspaper serving Britain’s black community has taken down a controversial interview with grime artist Wiley following accusations it “echoed and amplified” antisemitism.
The Voice came in for criticism on Wednesday after publishing a piece with the grime artist, who was banned from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram over his antisemitic comments on the platforms.
The article by Joel Campbell, entitled ‘Systemic oppression and Wiley‘, asked “within his ranting were there any salient points?” It also makes claims that black artists need Jewish lawyers to be successful and that Jewish people see them as “slaves”.
Following the interview Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl accused the paper of having “echoed and amplified Wiley’s racist tropes, rather than challenging them”.
In a statement issued on its website, The Voice said on Friday it has not, and makes it clear again, supported or in any way condoned the outbursts by Wiley that the Jewish community finds offensive. We do not support the stereotyping of any race or group.”
Without apologising for publishing the piece, the statement says: “As a black media outlet, we are here to give our people a voice. That doesn’t mean we will always agree with everything that is published. It saddens us deeply that persons have implied that we are antisemitic. Our long history in the community and our track record does not support this view.”
Going forward, our different communities must come together, talk more and show the solidarity that binds us together rather than pits one against the other. The Voice will remain a champion of that and will continue to work with various groups in this regard.”
They add that “we are in conversation with Jewish leaders and have given them the right of reply.”
Stephen Bush, who is leading the Board Commission into Racial Inclusivity in the community, wrote to George Ruddock, Acting Managing Director of the editor of the Voice, relaying his concerns over the piece. Posting on Facebook, he cites remarks made by both the interviewer and Wiley, criticising its publication.
“Campbell writes that “the hypothesis you need to get a Jewish lawyer in order to progress in the music business may be a complete fallacy” as he hasn’t “done the numbers” on the theory, adding that he has “never seen anyone Jewish refute or confirm this”, and perhaps it is a “discussion that needs to be had”, asking “why has this feeling, if it is demonstrated that the stats and facts don’t back it up, not been dispelled?”
“The claim is a self-evidently absurd conspiracy theory”.
In the piece, the interviewer said Wiley “knows he articulated himself poorly”, but he is “not alone in his thinking, that there is an unspoken systemic oppression that blights the lives of young black creatives in the entertainment space.”
Campbell says, “putting anything remotely near considered antisemitic to one side…not too many seem prepared to vocalise their consternation for some of the recurring themes Wiley believes is the stranglehold one community seems to have over another in particular relation but not confined to, the music business.”
Wiley tells him: “what I am saying is systemic and when I say it, they pretend they don’t know what I am saying.”
When Campbell asks Wiley who he means by “they”, the musician responds “without generalising… it’s the people I work with in the entertainment and music industry, the Jewish community”.
“They still see us as slaves. Slavery hasn’t stopped it’s just dressed up in a million pound record deal….”.
The Voice has not responded to repeated request for comment.