Emma Barnett responded after Kelechi Okafor retired from appearing Women’s hour when she heard the new host Make what she claimed to be “humiliating and abhorrent” comments on her.
Okafor was due to appear on the BBC Radio 4 program on Wednesday (January 6th) to discuss the #MeToo movement’s successes a year after Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial began.
Okafor was supposed to speak alongside guests like Weinstein prosecutors Caitlin Dulany and Rosanna Arquette, and defense attorney Gudrun Young, but wrote on Twitter that she retired shortly before the program began.
“Hi guys, I’m coming out Women’s hour because what I just witnessed is absolutely humiliating and mean, “she tweeted.
Okafor claimed she heard the host of the show talk about her before the episode began without realizing her microphone was on.
“You can seriously worry about something you’ve been told about me and address it in a friendly way. It wasn’t,” Okafor wrote.
“Myself and the other people who would speak during the segment could hear me being talked about like a bloody head. When she turns on the microphone it suddenly says, “Well, Kelechi, can you just explain it to me because I’m trying to give you a chance to explain it …” It was up to your producers to explain and conduct their research to have. It was up to you to check your microphone. “
Describing how on the show she was asked to debate guests who felt the #MeToo movement “is no longer needed,” Okafor went on, “The fact is that when you feel like that it is no longer needed for your sensitivity of the white middle class, marginalized voices still need it.
“We haven’t heard from everyone what violations they have committed. The originators of the MeToo movement were black women. From enslaved black women raped by slave owners to Tarana Burke, whose voices have not yet been honored.”
In response to Okafor’s claims, Barnett tweeted a statement in which she and her producers discussed alleged anti-Semitic remarks by Okafor. Barnett then claimed she asked Okafor about the allegations and offered to discuss them with her on the program, but Okafor “hung up”.
In an email to The independentA BBC spokesperson said: “During an off-air conversation prior to the program, Emma Barnett and the production team spoke about a guest’s role in the discussion and how some of the guest’s alleged previous comments and the issue of anti-Semitism are reflected as part of it can des Women’s hour Discussion of the role of minority voices in the Me Too movement. This was also discussed directly with the guest before going on the air. “
Barnett took over as host of Women’s hour on Monday (January 4th) in place of longtime presenters Jane Garvey and Jenni Murray.