Spice Girl Mel B opens up about impact of racism on her life

VENICE, ITALY - AUGUST 28: Melanie Brown walks the red carpet ahead of the opening ceremony during the 76th Venice Film Festival at Sala Casino on August 28, 2019 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Melanie Brown has opened up about her experience of racism. (Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Spice Girl Melanie Brown has opened up about how racism has affected her life in light of the Black Lives Matter protests that have sprung up around the world.

Many black and mixed-race stars have been discussing the impact racism has had on their lives following the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed while being detained by police officers in Minneapolis.

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Speaking to the Daily Star, Mel B said growing up mixed race in a nearly all-white area meant she and her family always stood out.

She said: "I was aware from a very young age that I didn't see many other people of my colour.

"But it was really when I went to school that I understood the colour of my skin had such an effect on the other kids.”

The Spice Girls in 1997 .;  (Photo by Ray Burmiston/Photoshot/Getty Images)
The Spice Girls in 1997. (Ray Burmiston/Photoshot/Getty Images)

The mum-of-three explained how she had to learn to run fast as a youngster as kids would chase her and yell racial slurs on her home from school.

But it wasn’t just youngsters. Her dad Martin, originally from St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, was not permitted to join the local working men’s club – but her white mum was.

Even upon joining the music industry and finding fame, she says she was still treated differently.

She explained how she was encouraged to straighten her naturally curly hair, something she was not happy to do.

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"I refused point blank because my hair was my identity and yes it was different to all the other girls but that was what the Spice Girls were about – celebrating our differences," Mel B said.

The star said being different conditions you to “expect some confrontation” – something that happened when she was singled out and asked to leave a designer store while shopping with her fellow Spice Girls.

She said: "Of course, all the girls had a go at the assistant because they were so shocked. It's pretty awful to think I wasn't actually shocked because if you are brown then there's always a part of you that expects some confrontation."