Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says she was “ambushed” during a news segment in which she was pitted against a staunch supporter of President-elect Donald Trump. Now, she’s calling out the BBC.
In an appearance on the BBC’s “Newsnight” which aired Nov. 11, Adichie shut down Trump supporter R. Emmett Tyrrel during a post-election debate. Tyrell insisted that the president-elect did not stoke fires of racism and hatred amongst Americans, with which Adichie strongly disagreed.
In the video, below, Adichie responded:
“I’m sorry, but as a white man, you don’t get to define what racism is, you really don’t. You don’t get to sit there and say he hasn’t been racist when objectively he has.”
The video has gone viral in the two weeks since it appeared online, receiving close to a million views on YouTube alone.
On Nov. 25, Adichie issued a statement about the heated exchange via her official Facebook. The Americanah author accused the BBC of failing to inform her that she would not be interviewed about the election individually but joined by a Trump supporter for a panel debate. She wrote that by “sneakily” pitting her against a Tyrell, the network was using “a deliberately adversarial strategy” in order to get good TV.
“I wanted to walk away, but decided not to. I was already there. And I did want to talk about the election, which I had experienced in a deeply personal way,” Adichie continues in her statement.
The novelist says her biggest issue with the segment was the moment when Tyrell stated that she was responding too “emotionally” to the election.
“To say that I responded ‘emotionally’ to the election was to say that I had not engaged my intellect,” Adichie explained.
“‘Emotional’ is a word that has been used to dismiss many necessary conversations especially about gender or race. ‘Emotional’ is a way of discounting what you have said without engaging with it.”
The BBC has since responded with an apology on Adichie’s Facebook page, stating they are “terribly sorry you felt ambushed by the encounter.” The BBC insisted, however, that the casting was not an “adversarial strategy” as Adichie suggested, but a way to reflect the views on both sides.