Diversity’s Jordan Banjo says he’s saddened by the level of abuse he’s received online following the dance troupe’s Black Lives Matter routine on Britain’s Got Talent.
Talking on Wednesday’s edition of the Kiss Breakfast Show, hosts Banjo and Perri Kiely (also a member of Diversity), revealed they’d both received messages of support online alongside more unsavoury ones.
“On Saturday we performed with Diversity on Britain’s Got Talent,” said Kiely. “Our performance covered the events of this year and the appalling messages that need to be spoken about. It’s something close to our hearts. We’ve never ever had a response like this.”
Banjo continued: “Of course you get some critiques but normally it’s focused on the dance. But this one was different, it was really important, it was special to us.
“We are all about positivity and love and we got so much positivity and love back from this one. But we also got bombarded with messages and articles of horrible stuff about us, about our families… I can’t speak for anyone else it’s sad, it’s sad, genuinely.”
With emotion in his voice, he added: “I feel really anxious and worried saying something like Black lives matter when that’s all we want, man. Love and positivity.
“No one is saying only Black lives matter, as a son and as a dad, I look at Perri and I just... it’s all positivity and love. Let’s keep it moving.”
The dance troupe’s emotional performance on the ITV talent show, inspired by the death of George Floyd, included a moment when lead dancer Ashley Banjo lay beneath a figure in police uniform who placed his knee on Banjo’s neck.
Broadcasting regulator Ofcom said complaints about the performance had more than doubled from 1,121 to 2,966 in two days.
WATCH: The Diversity ‘Black Lives Matter’ performance that received 2,966 complaints
The powerful performance divided viewers of the family entertainment show.
While many people praised the dance for being thought-provoking and highlighting important issues, others slammed it for being “too politicised”.
Dancer and choreographer Banjo, 31, has defended the performance on social media, writing: “For the thousands of supportive messages of Love and inclusion - Thank you.
“And for the thousands of messages of hate and ignorance I’ve received - Thank you... You highlight exactly what needs to change and why this was so important to me and the rest of @diversity_official.”
The dancer added: “I’m so grateful and overwhelmed by all of the love and support but also by the amount of conversation this performance has thrown up. 2020 has been such a historical year. One day we will look back and realise it was the start of real change...”
And Banjo also shared a racist message he had been sent on Instagram that included a picture of himself alongside boxer Anthony Joshua and Formula 1 racer Lewis Hamilton, with the words: "Dear Joshua and Banjo and any other Black public figures. We the Great British Public will only support you if you entertain us and do not say anything about racism."
Banjo replied: “For the people sending this:
“1. You do not represent or speak for the Great British public.
“2. Silence was never and will never be an option.
“3. Change is inevitable... Get used to it.”
The dance – which also featured all of Diversity taking the knee – started with Banjo reciting a remix of the poem The Great Realisation by Tomfoolery (real name Tom Roberts).
Tomfoolery, real name Tom Roberts, took to social media to say how honoured he had been to be involved in the performance.
A spokesperson for Britain's Got Talent said in a statement: "Diversity’s performance offered their take on the extraordinary events of 2020 opening up important topics of conversation.
“The show was complied for a family audience.”
George Floyd aged 46 after a white Minneapolis police officer was seen pinning him to the ground by kneeling on his neck as he pleaded for air.
Following Floyd’s death, anti-racism protests were held around the world.
Diversity found fame after winning the third series of Britain’s Got Talent in 2009. Other members include Ashley’s brother Jordan and Perri Kiely.
Since it returned to our screens in April, millions have tuned in to watch the pre-recorded auditions of the TV talent show each weekend.
Saturday marked the return of the live semi-finals, with Banjo stepping in as a guest judge after Simon Cowell was unable to take part after breaking his back.