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Clara Amfo: “You cannot enjoy the rhythm and ignore the blues”

The BBC Radio 1 DJ quoted Amanda Seales in an emotional broadcast on the station

BBC Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo delivered an emotional anti-racism speech on Blackout Tuesday (2nd June), an industry-wide initiative demanding racial justice and structural change in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

Amfo, who presents the mid-morning show on BBC R1, explained that she didn't have the "mental strength" to come into the station to broadcast on Monday (1st June), following the death of George Floyd. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man from Minnesota, was killed by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, on Monday 25th May. Footage of the arrest shows Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes, ignoring him as he repeatedly pleads, “I can’t breathe”.

The presenter spoke for around four minutes, and after a short introduction acknowleding the COVID-19 pandemic, and her role as a public facing broadcaster, shared that she would be speaking about race, and violence.  

"At Radio 1, we talk alot about mental health," Amfo said. "And mine was in a really, really bad way yesterday."

"Infact it has been, in particular, in relation to the death of George Floyd," she continues, explaining what happened to Floyd. "I didn't have the mental strength to face you guys yesterday, to ask 'Hi, how was your weekend?' with my positive intention, because I know that my weekend was terrible.

"I was sat on my sofa crying, angry, confused... stuck at the news of yet another brutalised black body. Knowing how the world enjoys blackness, and seeing what happened to George, we, black people, get the feeling people want our culture, but don't want us."

She added that "One of my favourite thinkers is a woman called Amanda Seales, and she says this and I feel it deeply when she says, 'You cannot enjoy the rhythm and ignore the blues'. And I say that with my chest."

You can listen to the full clip from Clara Amfo's broadcast yesterday below.