On Sunday, U.K. Labour Party lawmaker Diane Abbott was suspended by her party after causing controversy by stating in a public letter that Jewish people cannot be victims of racism. In response to an article in the British newspaper The Observer questioning whether only people of color can experience racism, Abbott argued that while Jewish and certain white people may experience prejudice, they do not experience racism.
In the left-wing lawmaker’s response, she stated “it is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice, but they are not all their lives subject to racism. In pre-civil rights America, Irish people, Jewish people and Travellers were not required to sit at the back of the bus.”
Her statement drew widespread backlash, and Labour Party leaders were quick to condemn her words and remove her from party leadership. Abbott later released a statement on Twitter apologizing for her remarks and expressing her wish to disassociate herself from them. She acknowledged that racism takes many forms and that Jewish people have suffered its monstrous effects, as have Irish people, and many others. The U.K.’s Labour Party has long faced accusations of antisemitism, making Abbott’s words all the more damaging.
In March of this year, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was banned from standing as a candidate from his party due to numerous allegations of antisemitism throughout his fifty-year political career.