Radio presenter Clara Amfo broke down in tears today as she spoke about the impact George Floyd's death had on her mental health. Amfo, who missed her regular show on Monday, returned to work today and began by explaining her unusual absence to her listeners.
“I wasn’t at work yesterday and I want to talk to you about why that was," she started. "Before I get into it, I want to say that I am fully aware that we are in the middle of this devastating pandemic. I am fully aware that I am not a medical professional or frontline worker. I’m just a woman who does a radio show, but my job is very public-facing so I want to talk to you."
Amfo went on, "At Radio 1, we talk a lot about mental health and mine was in a really, really bad way yesterday. In fact, it has been for the past few days in particular, in relation to the death of George Floyd. George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died whilst being held under arrest."
She admitted she couldn't pretend to be happy on air when in reality she was "crying, angry, confused".
"Now I didn’t have the mental strength to face you guys yesterday, to ask, ‘Hi, how’s your weekend?’ like I usually do with my happy intention, because I know that my weekend was terrible. I was sat on my sofa, crying, angry, confused and also stuck at the news of yet another brutalised Black body."
Tearfully, the presenter continued, "Knowing how the world enjoys Blackness and seeing what happened to George, we, Black people, get the feeling that people want our culture but they do not want us. In other words you want my talent but you don’t want me."
"There is a false idea that racism and in this case anti-Blackness is just name calling and physical violence, when it is so much more insidious than that. One of my favourite thinkers is a woman called Amanda Seales, and she says you cannot enjoy the rhythm and ignore the blues. And I say that with my chest."
Amfo, who joined the BBC in 2013, encouraged listeners to tune into colleague Annie Mac's show, which will be a celebration of Black musicians, and also Seani B and Ace's show, to hear the presenters share their experiences of being Black in the UK.
@claraamfo using her @BBCR1 show to speak about #mentalhealth, racism in the UK and blackness in the wake of #GeorgeFloyd is exactly the content I needed today. Thank you so so much Clara. Thank you pic.twitter.com/Vt8ByuVqth— Abimbola Johnson (@BarristerAbi) June 2, 2020
"Tonight there are two things happening that I want you to listen to. Annie Mac, my friend, sister, colleague, is doing a show dedicated to Black artists that have enriched the music landscape. And Seani B and Ace, my friends, will be doing a show on 1Extra about their experiences as Black men in this country.
"I want to say to our Black listeners, I hope you feel seen and heard today. And to those of you that already let me know that you are doing the work and are committed to doing better, I see you. So let’s do this. Let’s all be anti-racist.”
Amfo's emotional statement has been praised on social media, with one listener describing it as an "incredible, moving moment. Salute her". While another wrote, "My heart is hurting listening to @claraamfo. Very brave for discussing racism in such a raw and heartbreaking way. She is using her platform on @BBCR1 in the best possible way and I am here with you Clara."
Her radio colleagues also tweeted their support, with presenter Chris Stark calling her speech "the most incredible, powerful, moving bits of radio ever. @claraamfo You are incredible and strong and brilliant."
We couldn't agree more. You can listen to her full statement above.
Find out what you can do to demand justice for Black lives here.
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