Home Opinion Channel 4’s Documentary ‘Is COVID Racist?’ – Emotive But Misleading

Channel 4’s Documentary ‘Is COVID Racist?’ – Emotive But Misleading

On Monday evening, Channel 4 released a 45 minute documentary investigating the Covid-19 experienced by BAME people. Though eye-opening, its title is clearly deceptive.

Is Covid-19 racist? Given our current political climate, I don’t think a more deliberately provocative, irritatingly divisive hypothetical could be asked. It is so vague. It is so black and white. Before watching this documentary, the title alone made my blood boil. It is so clearly ‘clickbait’. It is so obviously titled in such a black-and-white way to make people like myself, angry.

No – obviously a virus is indiscriminate; what a stupid question. Yes, it has affected BAME people more – is a short, sharp way of describing this investigative piece lead a black, female doctor.

This documentary was presented in such a way to obviously grab the viewer’s attention (in a misleading way) and force them to watch until the end to find out if a verdict on the question is given. Not really. The conclusion was my synopsis of the paragraph above.

“Matt Hancock donates Covid-19 Antibodies” by UK Prime Minister is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The issue with this title is that it has played into the hands of ‘woke culture’. Only deluded liberals would answer yes to such a vague question, as they hate themselves and their race.

In fairness, it was an eye-opening, emotional watch. In each section, it focuses on a BAME family and how they have been impacted as a result of a death of a family member on the frontline. But its emotiveness was not down to the ethnicities of the families, but the stories in general.

One woman had only just qualified as a nurse (which was her dream). Another was a woman who died of Covid-19 days after a C-section. Undeniably, these events are devastating and my every sympathy is with their loved ones.

One interviewee, Dr Winston Morgan, suggested from his own research as a toxicologist, that Covid-19 statistics for black people were recorded by country of origin. The issue presented was that these figures were supposedly compiled into ‘genetics’, which of course can be the same if two countries neighbour (for example). The presenter described this as ‘lazy’ of the Government. I agree.

“Coronavirus” by duncan is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Dr Morgan, therefore, argued that these countries were ‘social constructs’ as opposed to each country having its own set of genetic differentiation. Genetics was an ‘unlikely’ explanation for why BAME people suffer more fatalities than their white counterparts. He suggested instead, that it may be more down to the immune systems of different ethnicities.

Dr Morgan also presented ONS figures that indicated that black males are four times more likely to die of coronavirus than white men, something which the presenter suggested could be down to ‘environmental factors’ as she presented her own figures, which are as follows:

  • Nearly 50% of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis live in poverty
  • 30% Bangladeshis live in overcrowded housing
  • 15% Black Africans live in overcrowded housing
  • 2% White British live in overcrowded housing

Simply, this is an environmental issue. Perhaps some may even argue a political issue (regarding recent anti-racism activism in 2020). However, this is not a racist issue at the hands of a virus. What the title probably intended to say was: ‘BAME people suffer more greatly as a result of institutional racism’. Of course, that is a completely separate debate, but it is an argument more likely to be the point of this intentionally misleading question that was being used purely to attract more views.

“Boris Johnson Covid-19 23/03” by UK Prime Minister is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Below are claims on the documentary that would indicate more of an argument for institutional biases:

  • This is more likely, given that it was stated on the programme that ‘BAME were less likely to be furloughed if they asked for it
  • BAME health workers are more likely to be frontline
  • Many Muslims felt unfairly scape-goated for increasing cases, as a result of tighter restrictions just before Eid
  • “Filipino nurses are actively recruited, yet one fifth of healthcare deaths due to Covid-19 were from Filipino backgrounds. If this is not the definition of neglect from the powers that be, I don’t know what is”.

With that final point: there you have it. The argument is a claim of systemic racism of the establishment as opposed to the stupid statement that a virus could be discriminatory on the grounds of race.

Perhaps there is merit to this argument, but clearly, this 45 minute documentary was disingenuous, leading with a false narrative from the start. Had it been titled: ‘Systemic oppression could be a factor in BAME suffering from Covid-19 more’, it would have had more merit.