Diversity’s Ashley Banjo Speaks Out After BLM Routine Sparks 15,000 Complaints
Diversity’s Ashley Banjo has spoken out about the ‘racial abuse’ and ‘threats’ the dance group received after their Britain’s Got Talent performance sparked 15,000 complaints.
The former BGT winners took to the stage on September 5 in a guest performance led by Banjo, who is currently standing in for Simon Cowell as a judge for the competition.
Their routine honoured the Black Lives Matter movement, and at one point saw Banjo being knelt on by a man dressed as a police officer as a reference to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
You can watch Banjo discuss the response to the performance below:
Though the dance was poignant and powerful, thousands of viewers were outraged at Diversity’s decision to address and raise awareness for systemic racism.
Media watchdog Ofcom said it had received about 15,500 complaints in the days following the performance, but Banjo argued the fact people felt the need to complain highlights why the performance had to be done.
To be able to stand on the very stage that launched Diversity into the limelight… standing up for something we believe in, using our art to spark a nationwide conversation, what more could I ask for as a creative?
A lot of the negativity and the nastiness and the racism shows exactly why this performance was needed and exactly why this conversation that has now arisen is necessary.
Speaking in a video shared on Instagram, the dancer pointed out that ‘racism is very real,’ adding: ‘I knew it before and I definitely know it now.’
Banjo described the performance as a ’round up of an extraordinary year’, addressing lockdown, COVID-19, the NHS and racism, as well as George Floyd and the riots and protests that took place after his death.
Diversity’s performance aimed to culminate with a sense of ‘unity’, Banjo explained, and he said the group wanted to create a feeling of hope while addressing the ‘difficult issues’ that have been put in the spotlight this year.
That’s exactly why the question of whether Britain’s Got Talent is the right platform is one that I just can’t get on board with, because if an artist can’t use real world, human issues, like, universal issues to inspire their art and to come through in how they express, then what’s the point?
While the performance was the cause of a lot of complaints, it also received overwhelming support, and Banjo thanked fans for the ‘hundreds of thousands’ of positive comments that flooded in after Diversity took the stage.
Banjo said he was feeling ‘nothing but proud and positive’ about the performance, and made clear that the group stood by what they’d done.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk