By “Sharneyah”/ Sha.ni(niy).a(ah) King-Soyza
Recent drama has occurred between Love Island co-stars Lucie Donlan and Yewande Biala. Lucie accused Yewande of bullying her during her time on the show. In turn, Yewande exposed Lucie’s ignorance refusing to call her by her name. News outlets such as The Sun and The Daily Mail has described this instance as a “race row” which perpetuates the ignorance and problematic nature of this argument. This is not the case of two people arguing about what is considered racism: it is the conversation that actions which are racially influenced is not acceptable and is derivative of hate and discrimination.
It is easy for society to excuse micro-oppression and passive-aggressive behaviour as an object of hypersensitive subjectivity. It is a part of one’s identity to be called by and respected as their chosen name. The act of naming is not taken as seriously by a “John,” “Emily” or a “Lucie” as pronunciation is simple and accepted within western culture.
Similarities to this issue can be compared to cisgender people having a detachment from the significance of their name unlike transgender or non-binary people. The UK has become a melting pot of different ethnicities, cultures, genders, and sexualities. However, the act of naming for minorities seems to remain a problem.
Lucie wanted to call Yewande by a nickname: this would not be a problem if it was a term of endearment…which it was not. Lucie thought the name was too confusing to pronounce even though told on multiple occasions how to. The name “Yewande” has no accent or silent syllables or letters, it is quite easy to read as it is to pronounce. However, Lucie wanted to reduce her significance by refusing to call her by her name as it “too difficult.”
As Yewande confirmed in her statement; this is a normalised act that has occurred since she was younger from multiple people that attempts to oppress and reduce her as an individual. This is essentially the act of othering.
Othering happens in many forms to oppress and discriminate by your differences, “exoticness” or “blackness” to avoid threatening or unnerving the ‘normality’ or rather…bigots. The fact the ITV allowed Lucie to continue with this behaviour during their time on the show further gaslights Yewande’s feelings and basic human rights.
This “race row” is not the division between two races but rather highlighting the micro-oppressions from one race to another which is ignited by ignorance. Hopefully, this cultural “celebrity feud” can bring forth conversation of micro-oppression within society and the power it holds by discriminating individuals…even the simplicity of ones name.