Vegan Singer Leona Lewis Speaks Out About Racist Incident She Experienced While Shopping In London
23 Sept 2021 by Agi Kaja

Vegan singer Leona Lewis shared a deeply personal experience with her fans on Instagram. She described the incident that occurred years ago in London when she and her dad were racially profiled by the shop assistant.

The UK's "The X Factor" in 2006 and PETA's Person of the year 2008, shared a video detailing the encounter.

Lewis said the incident happened when she and her dad were shopping in Chelsea and looking to buy some new things for her home.

"We saw this cute little shop that we went into, and we were looking around and there were other customers in there," she said.

"I didn't realise at the time but all of the other customers were white - me and my dad were the only black people in there."

"So we're looking around, picking up stuff as you usually do in a store, and I started to notice that the lady store owner was kind of hovering around," she continued.

Then the shop owner approached them and said to put the things down.

She said: "Eventually she came up to my dad and I and said, 'You need to put that down. You need to put that stuff down. You're not allowed to touch it."

Lewis and her father were confused at first and didn't understand why the shop owner told them to do so. She explained that they were checking out different items they were going to buy and asked why they were being asked to put them down.

However, the store owner became "really confrontational", and other customers started leaving the shop

"Now I could see people in the store, like I said, it was a lot of white people, and they were looking, and kind of like whispering under their breaths and they started leaving the store following the confrontation."

Lewis and her father were the only customers remaining in the shop and the shop owner became very agitated and aggressive.

"She became really defensive, got really agitated and ran behind the counter and said, 'I'm calling the police on you - you need to get out my store now,'"

Lewis said she became very angry while her father tried to calm her down.

"I couldn't calm down. I was so angry, I knew what this woman was doing to us, but my dad has been in positions like this before - same as me, but in a different way," she said. "He, you know, he knew that I need to make myself smaller, and I need to make myself calm and that just enraged me even more."

Lewis said she went to her car and completely broke down. Her father then took her CD from the car and went back into the shop. Five minutes later, he came back to the vehicle with the shop owner.

"I was like hyperventilating I was so angry, and the woman was at the side of the car. She knocked, and she said, 'I'm so, so sorry. I'm so sorry. I didn't know who you were.' That just kind of -- my heart kind of sank," she said. "I confronted her and said, 'You're racist, you're racist. You targeted me and my dad -- you wanted to throw us out of the store because of our colour... And she was kind of in denial," she added.

The woman claimed she "just got scared" and thought the pair might "take something."

"That is the conditioning that we have," the singer pointed out. "This conditioning that we were going to take something -- black people, oh, they're going to steal something, or there's something to be scared of or people with darker skin tones are going to do something bad," she added.

Lewis said she wished the white people in the store had actually spoken up and she urged her fans to stand against racism.

"For the people that are not speaking out or not saying anything, like you're the people that left ... you kind of, 'Oh, it's disgusting, but it's going to disrupt my day too much to really get involved and really stand by their side and say, Hey, what are you doing? Why are you targeting them? This is wrong.'"

"You need to stand with us, and you need to acknowledge that it's happening because when you don't acknowledge that it's happening, you're diminishing the pain and you're diminishing our humanity," she said.

"I'm someone who's mixed race. My mom is white, my dad is black, and I had a beautiful representation of what that unity meant for me. Because when that comes together in the most loving way, it is the most beautiful thing. Equal and beautiful," she added. "But that's not the reality of what's going on."

Lewis said she decided to share her story because many people think that racism doesn't exist in the UK while the reality is different.

"When people in the UK are saying that racism isn't a problem here, it is a problem," Lewis said. "It's a big problem."

Lewis has been been vegan since 2012. She is a supporter of World Animal Protection and is a patron of the Hopefield Animal Sanctuary in Essex.

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23 Sept 2021
Agi Kaja

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