UK singer Misha B made headlines last night when she opened up about the racial bias she says she experienced during her tenure on The X Factor.
The Manchester born songbird was a hot favourite to win the then-popular show, however she saw her wings clipped after being branded a “bully” and other terms historically and unfairly attached to Black women.
In an hour-long Instagram video, she unpacked the various racial stereotypes employed to dim her star – both in front and behind the glare of the cameras.
An experience she says left her feeling suicidal and with PTSD that she still battles with today.
Many were shocked, but someone who won’t be surprised is British Pop royal Gary Barlow – who served as a judge on the 2011 series.
The Take That frontman and Misha’s mentor Kelly Rowland defended her vigorously against the claims uttered by Tulisa Contostavlos – whose merit to even judge the talent of others was always a source of confusion to many.
In his recent memoir ‘A Better Me,’ Barlow opened up about the culture behind the scenes of the show – specifically recounting “bully-gate” and how it came to be.
Full story below…
In his candid account, Barlow revealed that – under the advisement of friend James Corden – he employed his own producer (Ben Winston) when accepting the judge position.
Why? To help him avoid becoming a victim of a TV system where producers “won’t mind throwing you under the bus, using you to get a headline, feeding you a line that will end your career.”
“I need someone watching my back who understands telly and will spot all their little producer games they play. Someone with a TV head to go ‘Listen. The ratings are down this week so they’re going to be looking to create a stir’. Someone to warn me of these things before they happen.”
Barlow illustrated the necessity of this when recalling the Misha B drama:
“About half an hour before the show goes live, the producers would come in and and they’d go, ‘Oh my God. That Misha. She’s a bully. Can’t believe it. She is such a bully. In fact, you know what? You should say it. You should say it on air. She’s bullied everyone all week.
They leave the room. Ben (my producer turns to me and says): Do not say that.
Later Misha comes on…Tulisa: I think you’re a bully. Louis: ‘I think you’re a bully.”
Watch the moment, which Misha herself shared, below:
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I’m just going to leave this here. I have received many calls and messages throughout the last couple of months regarding this incident. I have been in two minds of whether to address it, simply because I know that this problem is a lot bigger than me and I wanted to focus solely on the current affairs. Seeing the continuous mistreatment of my brothers and sisters all around the world has reawakened the PTSD that I have worked tirelessly to uproot and I know I do not stand alone on this. In 2011 what I thought at the time would be the best opportunity for me, turned out to be the most painful experience of my life. What you see in this video is 1% of what I endured. They saw an opportunity to tear down a black girl that came from a broken home and worked together to assassinate my character and to sabotage my career by orchestrating lies. ALL FOR A HEAD LINE. Nonetheless today and everyday I am a powerful black woman. I have been aware since I was a child, that my unapologetic nature would offend those that do not feel comfortable in their own skin…. Which results in this kind of behaviour. But In the words of our late great Maya Angelou STILL I RISE 🦋✊🏿 Please join me on Instagram live tonight @ 9pm where I will be discussing my experiences further. I want to make it clear that I share my truth only to educate and uplift. LOVE, m i S h a
Re-engaging with this both hit and hurt. Especially digesting Barlow’s raw reveal about the backstage happenings.
We remember seeing that scene when it came on and being so annoyed: a) because it wasn’t fair and b) because the media landscape was so different then; in the sense that the unfairness people (who were mostly Black) complained about was unlikely to be given attention.
What we took away from Misha opening up about this isn’t that she’s painting herself as the angel. She stressed that she had an introverted way to her, even when receiving praise. BUT, that is neither here nor there. Because the coded racist behaviours that those around her latched onto and propagated was blatant, manipulative, and uncalled for.
It’s honestly no different to the Amy Cooper brand of knowing how stereotypes work and applying them as and when it suits. The year is 2020 and it’s time people really digest that racism isn’t just calling someone the N-word.
There’s a long and problematic history attached to TV’s representation of “Blackness” – on both sides of the pond. And this yet another example.
Here’s hoping the likes of Misha and more speaking up helps bring about a cultural and industrial reset that doesn’t allow for such prejudice to continue on.
Watch Misha’s full video statement:
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