Mel B Has Opened Up About The Racism She Experienced While In The Spice Girls

"And yes it was different to all the other girls but that was what the Spice Girls were about – celebrating our differences."

 

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Following the Black Lives Matter protests after the death of George Floyd, Mel B has opened up about her own experiences with racism. In a new interview, she talks about her time in the Spice Girls, and how she felt the need to protect her identity.

Speaking about one particular moment at the start of the group’s career, Mel spoke about how a stylist had asked her to wear her hair straight in the music video for Wannabe, but Mel “refused point-blank.” “My hair was my identity,” she told the Daily Star. “And yes it was different to all the other girls but that was what the Spice Girls were about – celebrating our differences.”

Mel added that it was a “big deal” to her when she would then receive letters from fans and their mums thanking her, “saying how incredible it was that they had someone to ‘be’ when they did dances in the playground at school.”

 

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She then went on to say that there was a particular reason for her participating in the interview, that it’s extremely important to really highlight issues, “so much of the racism you feel as a person of colour growing up in a largely white culture is not spoken aloud.”

“Being told off at school for not being able to tie your hair back with a hair band, walking into meeting after meeting with the Spice Girls and never seeing another brown face – that does affect you,” she added.

Mel then recalled another incident, where she and the rest of the Spice Girls were shopping for an outfit to wear ahead of their performance for Prince Charles and Nelson Mandela, and she was asked to leave a designer store. “All the girls had a go at the assistant because they were so shocked. It’s pretty awful to think I wasn’t actually shocked because if you are brown then there’s always a part of you that expects some confrontation.”

 

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She then revealed that she decided to take Geri to an “old school underground blues and bass club” in Leeds so she could “understand what it is to be black or brown. She continued, “I said to Geri: ‘Look around and tell me what you see’ and she looked around and said, ‘everyone else in here is black except me.’ And I said: ‘That’s what it’s like for me nearly every day. I’m always the only brown girl in the room.'”

Mel stated that she was incredibly proud of the protests, that she’s been having conversations with her friends about racism and that she’s also been educating herself more by “watching films like Ava DuVernay’s 13th which is all about race and the justice system in America.”

To see how you can support the Black Lives Matter movement in Ireland, click here.

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