A Black Lives Matter-inspired dance routine on Britain’s Got Talent by 2009 winners, Diversity has resulted in in over 21,000 complaints from the public to U.K. media regulator Ofcom. And now, Diversity leader Ashley Banjo reports racist abuse. Ashley has been filling in for an ailing Simon Cowell on the BGT judges panel.
In the episode aired on Sept. 5, Diversity performed a routine, part of which involved Ashley lying on the floor while a fellow dancer dressed in police gear handcuffed him. Other dancers gathered around them with smartphones, simulating filming the incident.
The narration accompanying the dance included the lines, “What we thought we knew, some clearly didn’t. Black Lives Matter.” Diversity began the routine by taking a knee before the song “Black Lives Matter,” by Dax, played. The routine ends with dancers knocking over police shields.
“Diversity’s performance offered their take on the extraordinary events of 2020 opening up important topics of conversation. The show was compiled for a family audience,” a Britain’s Got Talent spokesperson said shortly after the performance aired.
The day after, Ashley reacted to the backlash: “So much to say… But I’ll Just let the performance talk. Thousands of messages of Love and support – Thank you” For the thousands of messages of hate and ignorance – Thank you. You highlight exactly what needs to change. Sending nothing but love to you all”
So much to say… But I’ll Just let the performance talk. Thousands of messages of Love and support – Thank you ? For the thousands of messages of hate and ignorance – Thank you. You highlight exactly what needs to change. Sending nothing but love to you all ???? #Diversity pic.twitter.com/3kP0ymUj88
— Ashley Banjo (@AshleyBanjo) September 6, 2020
But now, over a week later, Ashley reports racist abuse on social media. In an Instagram video posted on Sudany, Ashley thanked people for “hundreds of thousands” of support messages on social media. He insists that the negative is the minority, but noted that he has received “everything from racial abuse to threats to just some really nasty stuff that I’m not going to give any more time than it deserves,” he said.
Regardless, he regrets nothing.
“A lot of the negativity, the nastiness and the racism, shows exactly why this performance was needed and why this conversation that is now risen is necessary. Racism is very real. I knew it before and I definitely know it now.”