Little Mix‘s Leigh-Anne Pinnock has said that she “felt invisible” in the group because of her skin colour.
In an emotional video, the singer discussed the struggles she has endured as a black entertainer following the death of George Floyd, an African American man who was killed when a white police officer knelt on his neck as he lay on the ground during an arrest. Officer Derek Chauvin has since been sacked and charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.
“There comes a point in every black human’s life, no matter how much money you have or what you have achieved, you realise racism does not exclude you,” Pinnock said.
“Nine years ago, after joining Little Mix, I had the biggest awakening of my life. When we were filming ‘Wings’, we worked with [choreographer] Frank Gatson. He said to me, ‘You’re the black girl, you have to work 10 times harder.’ Never in my life had someone told me I would need to work harder because of my race.”
“Later on, what Frank Gatson said made sense,” she continued. “I learned that the dream of being in the biggest girl band in the world came with its flaws and consequences. Consequences such as knowing about the existent underlined racism in the creative industries.
“You learn to understand you can’t be seen to be too loud or too opinionated otherwise you’re deemed a diva or aggressive. You learn that by walking into a room you are deemed unapproachable or offish before anyone has even approached you. You learn that by voicing your opinion about the lack of diversity within the industry is like smashing your head against a brick wall.”
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Like many of you, I have been feeling really heavy with everything that we are seeing online and hearing on the news. In the past I have mentioned some personal experiences that were triggered due to my race. More than ever I felt like it was time that I was completely open and honest with you all because finally, the world is awake and people want to listen, help and understand. I'm not doing this video for sympathy or for you to watch and then go about normal life. I'm doing it because enough is enough and hopefully from sharing this we can all do more to understand the racism that takes place. In doing this we are able to approach the bigger issue and break down systemic racism. All we want is equality and justice for our black community. 🖤
The Little Mix singer then recalled some of her personal experiences where she said race played a factor in how she was treated.
“My reality was feeling lonely while touring predominantly white countries,” she said. “I sang to fans who don’t see me or hear me or cheer me on. My reality is feeling anxious before fan events and signings because I always feel like I’m the least favoured. My reality is constantly feeling like I have to work 10 times harder and longer to make my case in the group, because my talent alone isn’t enough.
“My reality is all the times I felt invisible within my group. Part of me is fully aware that my experience would have been even harder to deal with had I been dark-skinned. Our reality is no matter how far you think you’ve come, racism exists.”
Pinnock follows a number of other musicians who have spoken out during the recent Black Lives Matter protests, which have taken place across the US and around the world. Among them, Adele told her fans to “be righteously angered but be focused”, while Killer Mike gave an impassioned speech telling Atlanta residents to “plot, plan, strategise, organise, and mobilise”.