Not ‘too black’ to fight back
BRUSSELS – Cécile Djunga has been presenting the weather on Belgian public TV for a year, and after being subjected to a stream of racist comments she has decided to fight back.
In a five-minute appeal on Facebook, Djunga says one viewer rang into work to complain she was “too black and all people could see were my clothes”.
The video went viral, being viewed by a million people.
Her employer, RTBF, has given full backing to its presenter.
Its head, Jean-paul Philippot, told Belgian radio yesterday that Djunga had passed on a string of messages she had received in recent months and had not reacted to them.
“There’s no place for this torrent of mud in Belgium,” he said. “Racism is a crime, punishable by law.”
As well as being a weather presenter on Belgium’s Frenchlanguage public TV, Cécile Djunga has carved out a career as a stand-up comic, with a show called Almost Famous.
In her Facebook appeal she starts off saying: “If you want a good laugh, I’ve got a good one for you today”, before talking about the woman who rang in to say she was “too black”.
This complaint, she explained later, was for her the final straw. And her anger in the video is clear.
“It doesn’t stop. I’ve been doing this job for a year and I’m fed up of getting tonnes of racist and insulting messages . . . . It hurts because I’m a human being.”
Close to tears she goes on to say that some of the messages use racist words, telling her “Go back to your country”, adding that she chose to speak out because too many Belgians believed that racism did not exist there.
Speaking on Belgian TV late on Wednesday evening she said it was important to broaden the debate about racism and not focus just on her.
Many people had told her of their own experience as victims of racism.
Djunga’s decision to go public received widespread support.
Her story also prompted a political response in Belgium, with senior members of the Walloon government in Belgium urging the media to promote equality and diversity.
“I am Belgian and now they’re going to stop telling me to go back to my country. Because this is my country,” she said.