Radio 1Xtra host Sideman quits show after BBC uses N-word in news report

Radio 1Xtra presenter Sideman has quit his show after the BBC used a racial slur during a news report.

On July 29, correspondent Fiona Lamdin said the N-word during a report on a racially motivated attack in Bristol, repeating the term as it was allegedly used during the incident.

The broadcaster eventually cut the segment from the BBC News Channel but was immediately stung by a downpour of angry complaints – a total of 18,656.

Following the report, David ‘Sideman’ Whitely announced today that he is leaving his role as BBC 1Xtra presenter, as he told his followers ‘I can’t look the other way’.

In a candid, and moving Instagram post, Sideman explained the reasons behind his decision to step down and that the N-word being said on National television is not something he is ok with.

‘I have thought long and hard about what I am about to say and what it means and on this occasion, I just don’t think that I can look the other away,’ he told his followers.

‘We live in a world that needs to change, systems that need to change, organisations that need to change and as a person that believes that change can happen and wanting change to happen. I understand transition and I understand it’s not something can happen overnight.

‘There will need to be a lot of learning and unlearning and tearing down of certain building blocks of our society that took a long time to build-up. I am ok with process, I am ok with waiting within reason for certain things to change but the BBC sanctioning the N-word being said on National television by a white person is something I can’t rock with.’

‘This is an error in judgement where I can’t just smile with you through the process and act like everything is ok,’ he continued.

‘I’m happy working with organisations until we all get it right, but this feels like more than getting it wrong. The action and the defence of the action feels like a slap in the face for our community, that’s why effective immediately I am leaving my job as a radio broadcaster for BBC 1Xtra.

‘With no apology I just don’t feel comfortable being aligned with the organisation.’

Sideman, whose radio show aired on Sunday mornings, went on to add that despite loving his job, he had no choice but to leave.

‘I have loved my time there and I’ve got work with some amazing people and made some lifelong friends and had great opportunities,’ he concluded.

‘But money and opportunity doesn’t outweigh the dissatisfaction I feel in this situation. This is wild to me, especially in the current social climate and I can’t make any sense of it, no matter how much I think about it, so I think it’s time that I left.’

BBC still defended their use of the slur in response to critics who could not understand why the station thought it was acceptable.

‘Clearly we would never want our reporting to become the focus of such an important story,’ it said in a statement.

‘We have listened to what people have had to say about the use of the word and we accept that this has caused offence but we would like people to understand why we took the decision we did.

‘This story was an important piece of journalism about a shocking incident. It was originally reported by some as a hit and run, but investigations indicated that racist language was used at the scene and it was then treated by the police as a racially aggravated attack.

‘The victim’s family were anxious the incident should be seen and understood by the wider public. It’s, for this reason, they asked us specifically to show the photos of this man’s injuries and were also determined that we should report the racist language, in full, alleged to have been spoken by the occupants of the car.’

The station also went on to explain that the decision to air the word was not taken lightly, although TV bosses felt that their reasoning for doing so was justified.

It added: ‘Notwithstanding the family’s wishes, we independently considered whether the use of the word was editorially justified given the context. The word is used on air rarely, and in this case, as with all cases, the decision to use it in full was made by a team of people including a number of senior editorial figures.

‘You are, of course, right that the word is highly offensive and we completely accept and understand why people have been upset by its use. The decision to use the word was not taken lightly and without considerable detailed thought: we were aware that it would cause offence.’ has reached out to the BBC for comment.

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