Influential voices discuss fight against racism and prejudice

  • By ITV News Presenter Charlene White

It has been exactly one month since George Floyd died at the hands of the Minnesota Police.

To discuss what needs to happen to achieve real change going forward, ITV News brought together a group of influential black people from the worlds of music, sport, business and politics, all of whom have faced prejudice as they have strived to succeed.

The global Black Lives Matter protests are without a doubt the biggest race protests I’ve seen in my lifetime.

Whether you agree or disagree with the movement, it’s one that cannot be ignored.

For me, my friends and family it’s brought a lot of old and current wounds back to the surface.

  • Click below to watch the full hour-long ITV News discussion on racism and prejudice

Many of us haven’t talked openly about our experiences in the past, mostly because so many white people – who hold most of the country’s positions of power – chose to turn a blind eye to our experiences, or simply ignore them.

So to make sure everyone feels comfortable it’s often been easier to remain silent.

But because of the BLM movement, there has been a shift.

We’ve seen many high-profile people talk about their experiences growing up for the first time and be open and frank about the racism they’ve had in their careers.

They are important stories to tell so that the country can begin to head towards a point of real equality.

Rather than constantly running from it.

And that’s why we wanted to get this panel together.

Recognisable faces talking about what they’ve experienced, what they’ve had to go through to get to where they are, and their hopes for what could be a seismic shift in race relations - driven by a younger generation who’ve just had enough.

Beverley Knight explains how her album cover was doctored. Credit: PA

Our panel consisted of: Chris Ramsey, coach at QPR; Beverley Knight, artist and actress; Ozwald Boateng, fashion designer; Karen Blackett, CEO; Lord Simon Woolley, founder of Operation Black Vote.

All leaders in their respective industries, and all with stories to tell.

Some of the stories were very familiar to my own experiences - like being the only black kid in a school, to having to be a chameleon is order to make people feel comfortable around you in majority white environments.

Some stories just drew gasps from all of us, like Beverley telling us that the record company digitally lightened her skin on the cover of her first album so she’d appear more presentable and acceptable to a non-black audience (google her 1995 album B-Funk, it’s plainly obvious that’s exactly what they did. It’s pretty shocking).

Chris talked about white managers being able to fail and still be re-employed in a heartbeat, compared with black managers (of which there are very few) who are not given the same chances.

All five gave us an honest a raw insight into life as a black Britain.

And I’m thankful to them for that - and hopefully it gives BLM sceptics a better understanding that a societal shift benefits us all.