Twitterland seems to be full of people talking about Wiley and Jay Sean’s little online exchange, and a lot of people are accusing Wiley of racism.

I’ve no idea how the beef started, but the “racial banter” (as Wiley called it) started when some Asian Jay Sean fans sent Wiley abusive tweets. “Asian people tried it with me I’m allowed to talk back”.

Wiley’s retort to the Jay Sean fans unfortunately included some pretty silly playground taunts (which, as a half-Asian, I am all too familiar with).

– “i will throw Bombay potatoes on you”

– “your mum makes a dodgy korma”

– “Stop chewing beetle nut on the bus it smells”

Not exactly the kind of brilliant inventiveness that Wiley used to create the grime scene, but there you go. For the record, my house *does* smell of curry right now, cos I just made a very tasty aloo gobi.

In response to accusations that he was racist, Wiley explained that he had love for Asians and was just engaging in a bit of “racial banter”, which, he correctly pointed out, is not uncommon in London.

– “come on you know me i wouldnt wait 32 years to be racist”

– “lol at you idiots getting over excited instead of understanding the meaning of ethnic banter”

– “I love the Asian community minus Jay Sean trust me bug up Preeya she is so special”

Wiley finally pulled the plug on his 24-hour rant this evening, phoning into the Bobby Friction show, and later tweeting: “hold tight the jay sean fans you love me really lets get some unity going on im ready to chill out now its all love and banter racial banter”

It’s important not to blow Wiley’s rant out of proportion. People labelling him as a racist and likening him to the far right is unhelpful and only feeds into the lack of unity in our communities.

Wiley reveals the root of his grudge pretty clearly when he says: “im sorry but your race do act like they are above black people no lie”.

Frankly, he’s right about this. Many Asians *do* act like they are above people of African origin. I know from personal experience that there is deep-seated prejudice against black people in the Asian community, and this is a very real problem in terms of creating the unity that we need to move forward against oppression.

Wiley brings up another touchy subject when he says: “you all are starting to act blAck talk black fuck off tho cos I am black so I see who tries to be like us and ur haircuts are so swag and they way you wear ya hats deadout”

That is: not only do you look down on us, but you do it at the same time as biting our music and culture (and, in Jay Sean’s case, getting rich in the process).

Without necessarily meaning to do so, Wiley has brought out some very deep issues that need to be addressed. The fact is that the Asian community does pride itself on its economic success and the fact that Asian children tend to thrive in the education system. Many Asians see that African Caribbeans have not had the same economic and educational successes, and put this down to some kind of racial inferiority, without seeing the systematic racism, victimisation, criminalisation and prejudice that is designed to keep the descendants of slaves at the bottom of the heap.

The whole situation is strongly reminiscent of the media storm that happened in the US when legendary rapper Ice Cube (formerly of NWA) made the track ‘Black Korea’, in response to the brutalisation of black customers in Korean groceries.

Every time I want to go get a fucking brew
I gotta go down to the store with the two
Oriental one-penny-counting motherfuckers;
They make a nigger mad enough to cause a little ruckus.
Thinking every brother in the world’s out to take,
So they watch every damn move that I make.
They hope I don’t pull out a Gat, try to rob
Their funky little store but, bitch, I got a job.

So don’t follow me up and down your market
Or your little chop suey ass will be a target
Of a nationwide boycott.
Juice with the people, that’s what the boy got.
So pay respect to the black fist
Or we’ll burn your store right down to a crisp.
And then we’ll see ya
‘Cause you can’t turn the ghetto into black Korea.

The lyrics were obviously problematic and divisive; but nonetheless they brought out an issue that actually existed and needed talking about. Meanwhile, the reaction of mainstream US was to label Ice Cube as a murderous racist and to push for a ban of his music (thus conveniently avoiding the issue of racial disunity and how it can be overcome).

The best response to Wiley’s rant is not to chastise or alienate Wiley, or to label him as equivalent to the far right; it is to reflect seriously on the issues that have been raised and to move forward in the spirit of unity. While we fight amongst ourselves, the power structure of this country (which is overwhelmingly rich, white and male) laughs itself silly and enjoys the thought that nobody is going to seriously challenge it any time soon.