BBC hold ‘avoiding racial bias’ training session with on-air talent ahead of the new football season


*all of the copy below has been taken from the BBC’s Avoiding Racial Bias guide, as seen by Sportsmail:

CAKEWALK – The cakewalk originated as a dance performed by enslaved black people on plantations before the American Civil War. Owners held contests in which slaves competed for a cake.

Alternatives – ‘this is turning into a breeze, a walk in the park…’

NITTY GRITTY – Thought to refer to the detritus found in the bottom of boats once a shipment of slaves had been removed from the hold. The ‘nit’ refers to a parasitic insect – the ‘grits’ are the grain which would have been used as a cheap foodstuff to keep a slave ship’s cargo barely fed.

Alternatives – ‘the basic facts’, ‘the most important aspects or practical details’, ‘the key parts or substance’

SOLD DOWN THE RIVER – In the 19th century, black slaves were literally sold down the river to plantation owners further south where brutal conditions awaited. The use of that phrase in a sporting context waters down that association it has with slavery.

Alternatives – ‘that back pass left the keeper with no chance’, ‘put the keeper in an impossible position’

UPPITY – A word used by white people during racial segregation in the USA to describe black people they believed weren’t showing them enough deference. Black men and women were lynched by white mobs for seeming ‘too uppity’.

Alternatives – ‘agitated’, ‘chirpy’, ‘jumpy’, ‘uptight’, ‘troubled’, ‘perturbed’, ‘het up’


Ask yourself now what the reaction might be to words/phrases like ‘blackballed’, ‘blacklist’, ‘black mark’, ‘whiter than white’? Can you understand why someone might associate black = bad, white = good?

There are alternatives:

BLACKBALLED/BLACKLISTED – rejected, shunned, excluded, barred, snubbed.

BLACK MARK – his reputation has been tainted/tarnished, he has a blot on his reputation.

WHITER THAN WHITE – beyond reproach, spotless, unblemished, immaculate, impeccable.

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