Diversity star Jordan Banjo has said members of the group and their children have received threats and been called names since their performance on Britain’s Got Talent, but he has still been overwhelmed by the positive support the group has received.
The dance routine on the ITV show, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked more than 24,500 complaints to Ofcom as of last week.
Last week, ITV praised the “authentic, heartfelt” performance and took out a full page newspaper advert in support of Diversity – and Ofcom has said it will not investigate the routine, saying it did not consider the performance to be racist.
Banjo told the PA news agency: “The negative voices in the room always seem the loudest at first, but you look past all of that and you look past the few select headlines and genuinely there is so much more positivity than negativity.
“When you have ranging from people in the petrol station shouting across the forecourt how much they loved it and they watched it with their kids, we have been speaking to people saying ‘My husband’s a teacher or I’m a teacher and we showed it at school’ or ‘it started a conversation in school.’
“You have people like Lewis Hamilton tweeting and it’s sparking a positive conversation, which is what we wanted.”
A post shared by Jordan Banjo (@jordbanjo) on Sep 7, 2020 at 8:18am PDT
He added: “Some stuff gets misconstrued, some people have a different understanding or want to have a different understanding and for us the sentiment of Black Lives Matter – no funding, no organisation, no politics, nothing like that, but as a sentiment, as a sentence itself – if you disagree with that sentence then I don’t really know what to say.
“But for us, having a summary of 2020 as a performance and leaving out something as huge and important to us as Black Lives Matter seemed like we were trying to avoid it which we don’t want to do.”
Banjo said the performance was meant to be a “celebration” and pointed out the routine also referred to thanking the NHS, facing the virus, and looking forward to the future.
Discussing the aftermath, he said: “I don’t want to highlight it but there is an issue from threats, to talking about our kids, to being called names, I have never seen so much creative writing in my entire life.
“How people can adapt one racial slur so many times is beyond me, you need a medal for that.”
He added: “I haven’t spoken to all the boys, some of the boys don’t put themselves up front and centre, so they are part of the group and have loads of Diversity supporters following them, but in terms of me, Pel (Perri) and Ash, we have had a quite a lot of stuff.
“Within a few hours of it airing it was all positive and the next day some people weren’t too sure and then when the whole media thing picked up a bit and people who hadn’t even seen the performance were just ‘Watch your back when you walk around here’.”
Joking about the number of Ofcom complaints, Banjo’s co-star Perri Kiely, with whom he is fronting a new campaign to celebrate the new Lego Super Mario range – available at Argos, said: “I felt like I was climbing the charts. I felt like I needed that number one spot.
“There are so many complaints, you don’t understand why there should be so many complaints, so to get the backing (of Ofcom) after something like that is just positive. It’s exactly what you want.
“Also ITV completely stuck by us and they have gone above and beyond, it could have been very easy for people to stay quiet but they haven’t because it’s the right thing to do and I think that it’s plain and simple.”
The duo said they have also been taking comfort from the support of the group, while Banjo said he has been playing with Lego with his son Cassius, two.
He said: “I’ve been making some of the Super Mario stuff and I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty sick.
“Cass keeps trying to play with it and I’m like ‘Mate it’s my turn.’
“I’m probably not the best role model for sharing because he goes ‘Daddy, mine!’ and I’m like ‘No, it’s mine’.”
Banjo and Kiely unveiled the first ever Argos Lego delivery truck to celebrate the new Lego Super Mario range, available at Argos.