Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said she didn’t care about colonialism and boasted about almost making a critical race theory expert cry, according to explosive leaked WhatsApp messages.
Funmi Adebayo, a former Conservative party supporter and confidante of Badenoch’s, shared the WhatsApp messages with Vice to show that Badenoch is unqualified for her new brief in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
Some of Kemi Badenoch’s messages were sent privately to Adebayo, while others were sent to a group chat called Conservative Friends of Nigeria.
In one message, Badenoch reportedly wrote: “I don’t care about colonialism because [I] know what we were doing before colonialism got there.
“They came in and just made a different bunch of winners and losers.”
The message continued: “There was never any concept of ‘rights,’ so [the] people who lost out were old elites not every day people.”
In other leaked messages, Badenoch said her views on race and colonialism were formed with the help of a colleague “who took no prisoners on this issue”.
Exclusive: The UK’s equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said “I don’t care about colonialism,” dismissed the impact of colonialism on African countries, and mocked Black public figures in the UK, in WhatsApp messages obtained by VICE World News.https://t.co/TCeRYUWpc3
— Ben Hunte (@BenInLDN) September 22, 2021
Her colleague, who was not named, was said to have been “very aggressive” in challenging Badenoch’s views about “African achievement.”
Badenoch reportedly then went on to claim that such conversations could not take place at work today, suggesting that her colleague “would just be sacked for racism”.
Kemi Badenoch bragged about almost bringing Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to tears
The equalities minister went on to make inflammatory comments about former Tory MP Sam Gyimah. When asked if she thought he would be a good future leader of the Conservative party, Badenoch replied: “F**k no.”
Badenoch also reflected on an incident which saw her sitting on a panel alongside Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, an acclaimed civil rights activist and critical race theory academic.
She described Crenshaw as “the [queen] of critical race [theory]”, adding: “She was practically in tears by the end of it because she literally had never heard the arguments I was making and could not respond.
“And then she started shouting that I had no right to be on [the] panel… because I hadn’t read her book.” Badenoch closed out her message with a crying-laughing emoji.
Elsewhere, Badenoch slammed Labour MP Diane Abbott, describing her as “practically the only black woman you see discussing politics”.
She went on to suggest that Abbott had “disgraced” herself by “not knowing her brief”.
“That kinda stuff is sooo bad for us,” Badenoch wrote.
A spokesperson for the equalities office said in a statement: “The Government doesn’t to comment on leaked private correspondence.”
Speaking to Vice about the messages, Adebayo said she felt the need to come forward as “somebody who knows” Badenoch and understands “the way she thinks”.
Adebayo said Badenoch “is not equipped at all” to take on her new role at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
She has faced widespread criticism over her ‘colonialism’ comments
Badenoch has faced widespread criticism over her comments about colonialism.
Writing on Twitter, Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy said Badenoch’s “ignorance about the damage the British Empire wreaked on countries under its power is really worrying”.
She added: “It only reaffirms the need to decolonise our curriculum and start teaching the history of slavery and colonialism.”
Author and activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu tweeted: “Kemi Badenoch sinks lower in racial gatekeeping cesspit. What a bloody disgrace.
“A UK Equalities Minister who doesn’t care about ‘colonialism’? Her rationale for saying so is as disgusting as her racial gatekeeping to discredit and delegitimise anti-racism efforts.”
The controversy is just the latest incident in Badenoch’s tumultuous political career. While she is seen as a rising star in the Conservative party, she has faced widespread criticism for her approach to LGBT+ rights in her role as equalities minister.
There was outcry when Vice obtained a recording of Badenoch on which she could be heard questioning same-sex marriage and describing trans women as “men”.
She also faced criticism for using the outdated term “transsexual” to describe trans people in that recording.
Those comments were made before Badenoch was appointed equalities minister – but the leaking of that recording has done little to assuage the concerns held by many LGBT+ people about her position.
Her track record has led some to call for her to resign from her position.