Diversity founder Ashley Banjo responded to the immense support, as well as severe racial abuse he's experienced following his dance team's much talked about performance on Britain's Got Talent last week. After taking a hiatus from social media, Banjo has returned to Instagram to comment on the importance of using the BGT platform as a way to facilitate a much-needed conversation.
Banjo opened up in an Instagram video about the racial abuse and threats that he has to ignore following Diversity's performance. "A lot of the negativity, and the nastiness, and the racism shows exactly why this performance was needed and why this conversation that has arisen from it is necessary. Racism is very real. I knew it before and I definitely know it now." While the negativity can seem overwhelming, Banjo made it clear that positivity represents the majority response. "Trust me, I'm right at the centre of it and the negativity is the minority, the positive response has been huge."
Diversity's incredibly powerful and honest performance was not a politicised message about Black Lives Matter, but it was a much broader roundup of an extraordinary year, Banjo explains. "Everything from lockdown, to COVID, to the incredible NHS, to the spotlight that's been shown on racism, everything that happened with George Floyd in America, the protests, to the riots, ultimately culminating in the idea of unity, hope, finding a cure, people looking back, hindsight 2020, that is what the performance was about. It was layered. It was something we wanted to bring to the stage, to bring people hope, but also not to shy away from the difficult conversations and the difficult issues that have arisen this year. This is a year that people will not forget. This is a year that will go down in history for positive and negative reasons."
Comments to the video were predominantly positive, in support of Banjo and Diversity's message. The top comment by Instagram user dancerangel73 reads, "Damn right you should be proud 🙌🏻🙌🏻 I am a white woman, I'm not rich, I'm not famous, I'm not known, I'm not upper or middle class but I have always been privileged regardless of my status. I have never had to worry about the colour of my skin and the impact it has on others and this is how it should be for all human race."
The fact that Black Lives Matter, people's lives literally mattering, is a controversial statement that shows how much we need these types of performances to spark nationwide and global conversations about racial justice.