Political correctness gone mad I tell you!

Politically correct job titles are the butt of jokes, so I was amazed to receive an email today from Oxfam’s “Black minority ethic press officer”.

Perhaps all the time Oxfam spends securing subsidies from the European Commission and our own Department for International Development has made the charity immune to how absurd people outside career politics find this sort of thing.

The incumbent, Jonaid Jilani, tells me that there is no requirement to be black to take the post and that his job is to promote his message to “ethnic” people. But isn’t there something rather nasty about dividing people by their colour?

Well, yes Alex.

And no as well. For it does rather depend upon the details. In a large press office (and I wouldn\’t be at all surprised to hear that Oxfam has such) it makes perfect sense to do a bit of vertical segmentation. Different people handling the national newspapers, radio and or TV, regional papers (possibly even concentrating upon one region), the \”black and ethnic\” media (The Voice, various different language papers, certain radio stations etc) and so on.

Could be something as trivial as inserting lines into a standard press release (\”donating to Oxfam helps people in (insert name of ethnic minority/country here)\” ) sort of stuff to having a rolodex which contains the names and interests of that specific set of editors.

You know, in the same way that someone who wanted to reach out to the older middle class segment might keep the phone number of a leader writer on the Hellograph handy?

10 comments on “Political correctness gone mad I tell you!

  1. But surely by agreeing that donors need to separated by colour, your argument for it, is saying that “ethnic minorities” are only likely to dontate to their “own.”

    On the flip side of the same coin, what you are not saying, is that if you believe your rhetoric, then “white people” will donate to any colour, if they need help, so don’t need a “white press officer”.

    It’s just absurd and more than a bit insulting that Oxfam and yourself would think so lowly of black people.

    Oxfam should treat black people as grown ups, and not as special needs persons.

    Tim adds: Eh? Everyone tailors their PR messages to the audience. You write a story differently if you’re aiming at women or men, teenagers or OAPs, Catholics or atheists, this is just what you do.

  2. Or maybe the job specification is too narrowly defined by using such a title? The job is “PR for Oxfam”. The person who gets the job will not expect to be doing it until retirement or another “black minority ethic” (sic) post comes up.

  3. Exactly, but none of those markets involve dividing into colour.

    Why is a black OAP with a working class background, different to a white person with a working class background?

    Please explain to me why they are not equally compelled to respond to the same message for charity? Why does the black person require more tempting to donate?

    I don’t believe they do, so would appreciate what the differences in charitable thinking might be.

    Tim adds: No, still missing my point. The media itself is divided up, sometimes along racial (and of course linguistically) lines. There are newspapers, radio stations , magazines, which cater to an audience largely of one racial grouping or another. The Voice, is, I think I’m right in saying, aimed at Brits of Afro Caribbean background?

    The task of a “black and ethnic press officer” isn’t to change the mesage so as to appeal to people of different races: it’s to tailor the message to deal with those different media outlets.

  4. Helen, you seem to have completely missed Tim’s point, and I thought it was fairly clear. When I used to work in the same building as a large press office, we had different officers for different segments of the media. They need to build up a rapport with regular contacts.

    Having someone to deal with the TV stations specifically, someone to deal with the mainstream press, someone to deal with the trade presses, someone to deal with minority interest publications, etc. makes perfect sense.

    IIRC, our ‘minority interest’ press officer dealt both with The Voice, Attitude and a goth lifestyle mag I bought on occasions.

    Standard practice. If you’ve a big enough office that you’ve someone there just to send releases out and deal with magazines aimed at a certain audience, then what do you call that job description?

    You wouldn’t have a ‘white press officer’, as there’s no specifically white press, there is the mainstream media, for whom you have multiple officers for multiple segments, and for the record, is overwhelmingly white, pitching to the mainstream, overwhelmingly white, audience.

    The Voice or Arritude have different styles, might prefer quotes in a different format, or want to pitch stories in a different way. Having a press officer that understand that nuance will improve your chances of getting the free publicity charities need. PErfectly logical, understandable, and larger commercial companies will take a similar approach, as will political parties.

  5. No, you miss the point. And so does Oxfam.

    Oxfam have now got their own PC staff, with all the extra costs those offices will involve, and which will hoover up even more donations in extra salaries and clerical work. Money which should have gone to those who need it and for whom those donations were intended.

    Few of those charitable persons in the nation will know of this, but of those who do, and who donate regularly [I am a volunteer for Oxam and donate regularly as well], it will be like a stab in the back.

    It goes to show that before you give up your time and money, you should check out the charity involved, to make sure your donations are being used as you would wish them to be.

  6. I get your point, Tim. But I doubt somehow that Oxfat’s, er, Oxfam’s, primary motive for having a BME PO is for reasons of PR efficiency…

  7. If they have a Black Minority Ethnic press officer then I suppose they also have a Young Lads (or any other racial,sexual,social,age based group) press officer who can tailer their message for young men.

    To be honest I would have thought it more worthwhile for a YL press officer than a BME officer as the former is a larger market. Or does a large market sector mean that it just becomes part of someone’s job without a specific title.

  8. Yes Tim, except we can all guess that’s not how it worked.
    They thought up the job title first & the built the job around it. Public sector does it all the time.

    And the chances of a white getting the position are as good as Richard Murphy’s understanding economics.

    have a look at the white representation on the Equality Commission or whatever its called this week.

  9. just try to remember that the older middle class sweated , fought and bled for this country which they used to own.
    And then were forcibly made ‘equal’ to any new comer at their cost.
    Could this happen in China, Japan , Indobesia etc.

  10. No matter which way this issue is explained to be harmless, the concept is regarded as racist by many people, and even if it’s claimed it’s not, it stays that way and the fact does not spread harmony and happiness.

    It’s a really stupid thing to do and totally unnecessary as well.

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