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Clara Amfo’s powerful Radio 1 statement on George Floyd has gone viral – and we all need to listen to it

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Kayleigh Dray
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Clara Amfo stands against a grey backdrop in a BBC press shot

Clara Amfo broke down as she told listeners how her mental health has been impacted by George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a white police officer.

Impassioned and informed, Clara Amfo has a voice we want to hear. So, when the Radio 1 presenter was absent from her BBC show yesterday, many listeners were concerned.

Upon her return to the air today, Amfo began by acknowledging her absence. “I wasn’t at work yesterday,” she said. “And I want to talk to you about why that was.”

The DJ and presenter continued: “Before I get into it, I want to say that I am fully aware that we are in the middle of this devastating pandemic. I am fully aware that I am not a medical professional or frontline worker.

“I’m just a woman who does a radio show, but my job is very public-facing so I want to talk to you.”

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Amfo went on: “My mental health was in a really bad way yesterday. It has been for a few days in relation to the death of George Floyd. George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who died whilst being held under arrest.

“I didn’t have the mental strength to face you guys yesterday, to ask ‘Hi, how was your weekend?’ as I usually do with my happy intentions. Because I know that my weekend was terrible. I was sat on my sofa crying, angry, confused, stuck at the news of yet another brutalised black body.”

Tearfully, Amfo continued: “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 don’t want us. In other words, you want my talent but you don’t want me.”

And, seemingly addressing all those who have stated that racism isn’t an issue in the UK, she added: “There is a false idea that racism and in this case anti-blackness is just name calling and physical violence, when it is so much more insidious than that.

“One of my favourite thinkers is a woman called Amanda Seales, and she says you cannot enjoy the rhythm and ignore the blues. And I say that with my chest.”

Going on to explain how her Radio 1 colleagues would be addressing the issue, Amfo said: “Tonight there are two things happening that I want you to listen to. Annie Mac, my friend, sister, colleague, is doing a show dedicated to black artists that have enriched the music landscape. And Shaun B and Ace, my friends, will be doing a show on 1Extra about their experiences as black men in this country.

“I want to say to our black listeners, I hope you feel seen and heard today. And to those of you that already let me know that you are doing the work and are committed to being better, I see you. So let’s do this. Let’s all be anti-racist.”

An audio clip of Amfo’s address (above) is being widely shared on Twitter, with many praising the Radio 1 star for her openness and honesty.

“[This] is exactly the content I needed today,” tweeted one listener. “Thank you so, so much Clara. Thank you.”

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Addressing Floyd’s murder, and the emotional impact it has had upon her, in a previous Instagram post, Amfo said: “DMing me to tell me that you hate racism accompanied with a holiday snap of pictures with your black friends (yes, that really happened this weekend) is useless.⁣ Posting Martin Luther King quotes and other platitudes with a peace sign isn’t enough.⁣ Telling me you’re sorry and can’t believe it at this point in history, although well-intentioned, sadly useless. ⁣

“If you’re a non-black person who has told yourself that exclusively having sex with and dating black people is a personality and therefore enough to absolve you from being racist….newsflash it’s not! ⁣Same goes for music fans who happily indulge in the talent and work of black people and industry people who profit off us but stay silent when shit gets real . How could I forget that guy who told me on this same app that he couldn’t be racist cos he listens to Travis Scott.”

In the post, Amfo continued: “I feel like there is a small shift happening, I honestly can’t tell if it’s going to lead to permanent change due the echo chamber of social media that I pay attention to versus what is shown on the news globally. ⁣The subjugation of black people the world over is not new news to us, the institutions of white supremacy are not new to us. 

“It seeps into everything and we don’t have the choice to unsee it or feel it, proverbially and violently known as the ‘chip on your shoulder’ or ‘making everything about race’. I notice I always lose followers when I speak about racial injustice. Why do you think I made a choice to use Rihanna’s speech on my last post? Most importantly because what she said was 100% true… but [also because] she is also a palatable enough black woman that I knew most white people would listen to over me. She would grab your attention, perhaps provoke more thought.⁣”

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⁣Continuing her thread in a separate post, Amfo explained: “If you ‘follow’ me, enjoy my work, aesthetic, however you process me. You must understand that I am a WHOLE BLACK PERSON… [and] if you are uncomfortable with what you read today, ask yourself why?

“I love blackness, it is STUNNING, MAJESTIC, INSPIRING, but it is also not here to serve non-black people when it suits them via sports, music, hairstyles, entertainment etc, it should be respected in the workplace and shouldn’t be ignored when it’s crying out in fear of being killed.⁣”

She finished by saying: “You really want that utopian ideal of what our world could be? You want to be proudly and ACTIVELY anti-racist more than fearing being called a racist? I want that for you too.⁣

“If so, then DO the work, educate yourself and others, stand by us loudly, consistently, FOREVER.”

Amfo is 100% correct. And, to paraphrase what we’ve said before, it’s worth remembering that non-black people need to educate themselves, listen more, and learn how to be a better ally in the fight against racism.

Here are just a few of the ways we can all do this:

How to support Justice for George Floyd:

Further charities and organisations to engage with:

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Image: BBC press shot

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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