The Only Way Is Essex star Vas J Morgan has accused the reality TV show of “systematic racism” and says he was treated differently to his white castmates.
Posting a lengthy statement on Instagram, Morgan said he wanted to speak out after making comments underneath a Black Lives Matter post put out by the show that he claims were removed.
The reality star appeared in the programme, known as TOWIE, from 2014 to 2018.
During that time, he said he was “consistently put into situations that perpetuated the same racial stereotype”, that he “was almost never allowed to show any sides of my personality that wasn’t angry, aggressive or negative”, and that he was told he was the “token representation of minority”.
Morgan follows Hollyoaks star Rachel Adedeji, who made allegations of racism against the soap in a post on social media, in speaking out about his experiences.
Some TV shows have also been pulled from catch-up and streaming services as the Black Lives Matter movement brings the issue of racial injustice to the fore following the killing of George Floyd in the US.
Speaking about TOWIE’s Black Lives Matter post, Morgan said he was “saddened but not shocked” to see racist remarks underneath it, and felt the need to reply.
“While I don’t believe that I am responsible for educating other people on racism or the meaning of black lives matter, it is fundamental to understand that until black lives matter, all lives can’t matter,” he said.
“While I have been conditioned to expect uneducated comments, like the one above, I was deeply saddened by what happened next.”
Morgan said his comments were deleted from the show’s official Instagram page and that he sent a direct message to the account to ask why.
“At the time I was going to let this go but it’s something that has been on my mind for the past few days,” he said. “Because it’s tantamount to black voices being oppressed and silenced while they still left the racist comments.
“The incident was reminiscent of similar experiences while filming The Only Way Is Essex.
“While I have always been proud to be one of the only black and gay reality TV stars on British television, I have often felt conflicted over the way I was treated and the way I was portrayed.
“During the four years I filmed the show, I was almost never allowed to show any sides of my personality that wasn’t angry, aggressive or negative.
“I was consistently put into situations that perpetuated the same racial stereotype that has been used to oppress and control black people.”
Morgan said he had heard racist language being used casually “countless” times.
“The fact that it wasn’t directed at me doesn’t make it less painful to hear,” he said.
The star said he felt he was on the show “to be paraded out as a symbol but never treated equally to the other cast members”.
He added that he felt “guilty” for not speaking out sooner but said he had held back for fear of being “blacklisted” from the industry.
“The experiences I had on the show are part of the systematic racism that for the first time has had a spotlight put on it on a global scale,” he said.
“This systematic discrimination starts from the top down. From leadership positions within the network, to the writers’ room, to our day to day producers.”
Morgan said he had only worked with one black producer and never met a black executive or person in a position of power during his time on the reality programme.
A TOWIE spokeswoman said: “We are concerned to have read Vas’s recent comments about Towie, and got in touch with him yesterday evening in the hope we can discuss the issues he’s raised at his earliest convenience.”
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Protests have taken place across the globe following the death of Mr Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May.
The 46-year-old, an unarmed black man, was killed after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
On Wednesday, hundreds of anti-racism protesters knelt in cities across the UK in honour of Mr Floyd.
Race and Revolution: Is Change Going to Come?
Sky News will broadcast a global debate show on Tuesday night at 8pm – looking at the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter protests, and examining institutional racism and how we fix it.
If you would like to be part of our virtual audience, and have a chance of putting a question to our panel, please send your name, location and question to email@example.com.
Source : Sky News