Music News

Leona Lewis shares story of racial discrimination: "I'm in pain and I'm sick of it"

Getty Leonalewis 060820
Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

The worldwide protests in the wake of George Floyd‘s death have prompted “Bleeding Love” singer Leona Lewis to share an intensely personal experience she had with racial discrimination, as a way of illustrating her feelings that white allies can’t simply stand by — they must take action.

In a video on Instagram, Leona relates a story about how, several years ago, she and her father, who’s black, were shopping in a store and were racially profiled by the shopkeeper, who kept telling them to put things down and to not touch things.  The white customers, who were not told to do so, murmured their disapproval and left the store.

When the woman threatened to call police unless Leona and her dad left, Leona said she would leave, but that she would call the police herself and report the discrimination.  As she sat sobbing in the car outside, her father grabbed one of Leona’s CDs and walked back in the store. A few minutes later, the shopkeeper tapped on the car window and said, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know who you were.”

This, of course, further enraged Leona, and she called the woman a racist; but the woman was “in denial,” she says.

“For the people who are not speaking out or not saying anything, you’re like the people who left [the store],” Leona concludes.  “So when I see messaging or ‘say something,’ it’s real. You need to say something.  You need to stand with us and you need to acknowledge that it’s happening ’cause when you don’t….you’re diminishing our pain and our humanity.”

Leona concludes: “I’m in pain, and I’m tired and I’m sick of it.  I’m someone who’s mixed race.  And…when that comes together in the most loving way, it is the most beautiful thing. Equal and beautiful. But that’s not the reality of what’s going on.”

By Andrea Dresdale
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.