Nila is a freelance journalist and Clinical Psychology Doctoral student…
British grime artist, Richard Cowie, better known by his stage name Wiley, is under scrutiny for his recent racist comments. British Asian stars like radio host Bobby Friction and Nihal Arthanayake, music producer Naughty Boy, as well as host and actress Jameela Jamil have spoken out against the injustice recalling that this was not the first time Wiley has made racist remarks.
As a Muslim I stand with my Jewish brothers and sisters. Anti-semitism must be confronted and eliminated.— Naughty Boy (@NaughtyBoyMusic) July 25, 2020
Wiley is known as the “Godfather of Grime” and has a large fan following in the UK. He has used his influence to post a string of anti-Semitic statements on his social media pages going as far as calling all Jews “cowards” and alleging that they control the entertainment industry. He went on to compare Jews to the White supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan tweeting “I don’t care about Hitler, I care about black people.”
Britain’s Campaign Against Antisemitism, an NGO founded by Anglo-Jews, has spoken out to condemn the remarks. The NGO along with fans, actors, and even politicians have spoken out calling for action. The Metropolitan Police are currently investigating the matter.
Wiley is not just facing backlash from fans and peers but his manager, John Woolf of A-List Management Group, has “cut all ties” with the artist.
“Following Wiley’s antisemitic tweets today we at @A_ListMGMT have cut all ties with him. There is no place in society for antisemitism.”
Woolf has also tweeted that as a Jewish man he is appalled by the remarks and does not find it acceptable. Twitter flagged Wiley’s tweets and banned the artist from using his account for 7 days since he has posted. This is not the first time Wiley has made racist comments, back in 2011 he had attacked British Asian singer Jay Sean and his fans.
Wiley called out Sean for not giving back or uplifting the British music scene enough when he was able to find great success in America. Wiley stated that Sean didn’t take the time to even uplift British Asian artists like Juggy D and Rishi Rich who had helped him get his start. He questioned Sean’s loyalty to his British peers in a series of tweets over 2 hours. He tweeted messages like:
“F*ck you Jay Sean ur rubbish seriously I don’t care who Ur signed to your rubbish”“I’m really not scared of the Jay Sean fans honestly don’t make me laugh your all gassed up to your eyelids”
“I’m stopping now but tell that cowards talk when I ain’t on line cos I will see him at awards and sort it there unless he down’ turn up.”“Jay watch when see each other it’s gonna be you hiding behind security lol”
When Sean’s fans spoke out against Wiley’s tweets he threw back racist remarks like “I will throw Bombay potatoes on you,” “your mum makes a dodgy korma,” “Stop chewing beetle nut on the bus it smells,” and “I will slap off your dad’s turban.”
Sean tried to encourage his fans to not give in to the negativity but also spoke up for himself stating that he has worked with British artists throughout his career including Wiley himself who was featured on the remix of Sean’s break out single “Down.” Rishi Rich also took to Twitter to state that he and Sean were still good friends, contrary to Wiley’s claims and they had both found success, Sean with Cash Money Records and Rich himself was signed to Timberland Productions at the time.
Sean brought attention to how racist Wiley’s statements were but at the time, Wiley stated that he did care for the Asian community but was not supportive of Sean.
“I love the Asian community minus Jay Sean trust me bug up Preeya [Kalidas]she is so special. Which Asian artist has Jay Sean brought thru tell me please.”
He later went on Bobby Friction’s BBC Asian Network Radio Show to speak about the incident. He explained that Asians often look down on the Black community while emulating their music, fashion, and style of speech, and he dismissed his own comments as “ethnic banter.”
Friction has not forgotten the incident and used his influence to express how important it is to stand up for each other, hateful, demeaning generalizations are never acceptable. As Friction states, you can’t demand justice when there are prejudices against your own people but remain silent when others are in pain.
Nila is a freelance journalist and Clinical Psychology Doctoral student who was born and raised in New York City. There is very little she loves more than Harry Potter marathons, pizza, 90s Bollywood, bagels, falooda, and her family. She hopes to use her powers for good by spreading mental health awareness and positivity in the South Asian community through her love of writing.