Maro Itoje, Tinie Tempah and Rochelle Humes discuss racism in new documentary
Celebrities including Rochelle Humes and Tinie Tempah have opened up about their experiences of racism, with the rapper claiming young black men are “constantly targeted” by police.
And Saturdays singer Humes told how she would try and scrub her skin off after being subjected to racism as a child.
They appear in Channel 4 documentary The Talk, alongside stars including England rugby player Maro Itoje and actor Lennie James to discuss what advice they received about discrimination when they were younger and what they would tell the next generation.
Itoje said that teachers would sometimes under-estimate him as he was growing up.
When a teacher was trying to talk him out of leaving school to study at a different sixth form, he said he was told he would not be able to cope academically.
The England player said he has become “more and more emboldened” to call out racism as he has got older.
Tempah said that “as a young black boy who’s grown up in an inner city London, Manchester, Birmingham, you are constantly targeted by the police”.
He added that he was once stopped by officers while he was driving through south London, listening to rap music.
“They were treating me like I was some mad criminal and then I forget why but they ended up taking the car,” he said.
“I really just think that there’s a kind of tactic that’s really just used to kind of slowly break you down mentally or intimidate you or make you think (or) feel scared of white authority.”
He said that, as a parent, “it’s very easy to project your insecurities and your fears on to your child”; however, his did not do that very much.
“In hindsight I think that has definitely worked to our advantage because (my father) and my mother have been able to produce just confident kids, kids who believe they have just as much of a chance as anyone else, kids who can dream … and that’s what I want to do for my kids.”
A tearful Humes spoke to husband Marvin Humes and said: “My legs were red because I had tried to scrub my skin off. And I’m not upset for me, I’m just upset because I think my little girl is the same age. I just don’t know how I would handle that.”
The 31-year-old mother-of-two described the experience of opening up as “overwhelming”.
James discussed an incident when a police officer used racist language towards him after he was seen riding his bike on the pavement as a child.
“I mean, I don’t even know if I’d ever heard that word before at that point and I’d certainly not heard it in my direction, and it was a police officer saying it to an 11-year-old kid for riding his bike on the pavement,” the Walking Dead star said.
He added: “There is a notion, that has some validity, that things are better now and that they’re better now for the generations behind us than they were for us, and whatever part of that might be true it isn’t better, in the sense of it being good enough.”
People are locked in a “battle” to be “allowed to stand freely on the starting line and see what happens when the gun goes off,” James said.
“It boggles me and that’s why we need to have the talk because we need to arm our kids with what they need in order to get past it and beyond it and survive it.”
Journalists Gillian Joseph and Gary Younge and broadcaster and Paralympian Ade Adepitan have also contributed to the programme.
The documentary comes after the death of George Floyd in the US sparked Black Lives Matter protests around the world.
Channel 4 is set to air a series of programmes exploring different aspects of the black experience in modern Britain.
– The Talk will air on Channel 4 on Tuesday at 10pm.