BBC Radio One DJ Clara Amfo took to the airwaves yesterday with an emotional and powerful speech following the death of George Floyd, speaking about racism, mental health and blackness in culture.
At the start of the day millions took part in a social media blackout across the globe. Clara opened her BBC Radio One show with an emotional and impassioned speech about how the death of George Floyd left her feeling distraught and was unable to attend work the previous day.
Addressing her listeners she said, “Now, before I get into it, I just want to say that I am fully aware that we are in the middle of this devastating pandemic and I am fully aware that I am not a medical professional or a frontline worker, I am just a woman who does a radio show, but my job is very public-facing so I want to talk to you.
“Now, if you have small children or would rather not hear what I’m about to say, because I am going to discuss race and violence, please check out something else on the BBC Sounds app for the next few minutes. If not, then I really welcome you to stay with me.”
“You cannot enjoy the rhythm and ignore the blues”
— BBC Radio 1 (@BBCR1) June 2, 2020
“Now as you know at Radio One, we talk a lot about mental health, and mine was in a really bad way yesterday. In fact, it has been for the past few days in particular in relation to the death of George Floyd. George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died whilst being held under arrest. Now I didn’t have the mental strength to face you guys yesterday. To ask, ‘Hi, how was your weekend?’ like I usually do with my happy intention, because I know that my weekend was terrible. I was sat on my sofa crying, angry, confused, and also knowing, stuck at the news of yet another brutalised black body.”
Amfo went on to say, “Knowing how the world enjoys blackness and seeing what happened to George, we black people get the feeling that people want our culture but they do not want us. In other words, you want my talent but you don’t want me. There is a false idea that racism, and in this case anti-blackness, is just name-calling and physical violence when it’s so much more insidious than that.”
“One of my favourite thinkers is a woman called Amanda Seales and I feel it deeply when she says this: ‘You cannot enjoy the rhythm and ignore the blues.’ And I say that with my chest.”
She encouraged Radio One listeners to tune in to upcoming shows from Annie Mac, with her show dedicated to black artists who have enriched the musical landscape, and Seanie B and Ace who spoke about their experiences as black men in the UK. Amfo concluded: “I want to say to our black listeners that I hope you feel seen and heard today.
“And to those of you that have already, let me know that you are doing the work to be committed to doing better – I see you, so let’s do this. Let’s all be anti-racist.”
Find out more information, or donate, to the Movement For Black Lives HERE.