Editor’s comment: We mustn’t treat abuse as a one-off

Muswell Hill Cll Julia Ogiehor endured disgraceful abuse on the Tube home.

Muswell Hill Cll Julia Ogiehor endured disgraceful abuse on the Tube home. - Credit: Archant

I don’t make a habit of directing readers towards other publications...

but I read a pretty thought-provoking comment piece in the Guardian last week by Chris - one of the victims of the homophobic attack on an N31 bus whose picture appeared in papers across the country (including this one) after her date shared it online.Chris argued that coverage of hate crimes in the media disproportionately favoured people like her - white, young, pretty - and criticised news outlets that had made such a fuss about her and Melania but did little to call out homophobia and misogyny, especially towards minority groups, the rest of the time. (It's a good piece and you should read it - five seconds with your favourite search engine will get you there.)

A line that stuck out for me in her piece was one I have heard often both in and out of the newsroom: "It's 2019." The implication, of course, being that homophobia, abuse of women, transmisogyny, racism, classism, ageism are relics of a less enlightened age and that it is hard to comprehend anyone being subjected to them. Chris said that, no, these things were completely unsurprising because they are all around us: in what "the media" does and doesn't report, and how it does so; in policy; in the way people around us are treated every day.

I say this to explain why I am so grateful to Cllr Julia Ogiehor for speaking to us not only about the disgraceful abuse she endured on the Tube home last week, but also about how it was neither new nor surprising to her. Many people, me included, won't have understood - because we haven't asked, or listened - how relentlessly minority groups suffer attacks, verbal and physical, in 2019.

It is incumbent on us all, but especially on those in news, to seek out those views and to amplify them - not just to report on isolated incidents because someone has cracked and tweeted about what happened to them, but about how far we still have to go to achieve equality.