Rapper Tinie Tempah has compared the world’s response to the death of George Floyd with reactions to animal cruelty, telling Sky News that people would not accept a dog being treated in the same way.
The musician, who took part in the #BlackoutTuesday protest yesterday and has posted a freestyle song written in response to the killing, said seeing video footage of a white police officer kneeling on Mr Floyd‘s neck was “pretty shocking” but something we “just keep seeing”.
He continued: “If we saw a human being with their knees on a dog the world would be in outrage. I guess that’s kind of the best way to sum it up.
“You know, we wouldn’t accept this for an animal so to keep seeing it happen to human beings – more importantly, to black people, people of colour – you definitely have a feeling of being marginalised.”
Mr Floyd, who was African-American, died in Minneapolis last week after police officer Derek Chauvin was seen kneeling on his neck for several minutes, during an arrest for allegedly using a fake $20 note.
“Being black, you can’t watch that video and not feel a deep pain that there’s no way of healing,” Tinie said.
Tinie, whose real name is Patrick Okogwu, is one of many music artists speaking out about racism, after record companies including Sony Music, Atlantic Records, Capitol Music Group, Warner Records and Def Jam suspended business as part of the protest on Tuesday.
The star was one of millions of people posting black squares on Instagram and Twitter as the social media movement spread around the world.
Racism is rife in the UK as well as the US, he said – and it is “the height of ignorance” to say otherwise, he insists
Tinie said: “I’m even gonna go as far as to say, shame on you, whoever says that, shame on you. Because we all know that racism exists in the UK.
“Even for someone to say that officers aren’t armed [in the UK], it’s almost like… I don’t know how the best way to describe this is… it’s almost excuses, almost trying to find a justification for why we are better or not.
“The fact is that racism is wrong. And if racism exists anywhere, on any level, it’s wrong. It’s inhumane. It’s evil.
“So for somebody to almost have the audacity to be like, oh, well, you know, our police officers aren’t armed and this wouldn’t happen in the UK, it’s the height of ignorance and it’s almost trying to smokescreen the fact that racism happens here.
“What are you trying to say? You’re trying to say that racism here is less harsh? Are you trying to say racism [here] is better? Because none of these things are applicable to the word racism.”
Speaking about the music industry, Tinie says that “of course, the music industry is racist”, that racism is “a systemic thing that is not only within the police institutions, [it’s] other institutions” too.
The music star said that while he could talk about his personal experiences, he would rather talk about answers.
“There is definitely racism in the sense that loads of people that I started in the music industry with and alongside…
“I’ve been able to do my thing, not with ease – we’ve obviously [had] struggles and hurdles and obstacles – but I’ve still been able to achieve success, whereas I’ve seen a lot of people struggle to get to that next position, struggle to get promoted, struggle to get into that wage bracket that enables them to then do that for their families as well.
“I don’t think people really care too much about what my personal experience is but black people as a whole in every institution, racism is there and black people are subjected to it. And it is perverting us from growing and empowering ourselves and uplifting ourselves.
“I just really want to find some solutions,” Tinie says.
While there is not one simple solution, Tinie says we all need to care more.
“I think as a human race, we all have to care enough to want to know why and to get to the bottom of it…
“If you don’t say anything or if you don’t try your best to help find a solution and solve the problem, in my opinion, you’re part of the problem.”