British rapper Stormzy said on Thursday he will donate £10 million (Dh46.4 million) over the course of a decade to causes that empower black people.
“The uncomfortable truth that our country continuously fails to recognize and admit is that black people in the UK have been at a constant disadvantage in every aspect of life – simply due to the color of our skin,” he said in a statement.
Stormzy, who made history last year by becoming the first British rapper to headline Glastonbury, said he had heard people dismiss racism in Britain by citing his own success.
The donation, described as the “beginning of a lifetime commitment” from him and his company #Merky, comes amid a huge backlash against the killing of George Floyd, and a renewed fight against racism in the US, UK, and elsewhere. He urged others to join him in pledging to causes that support black people.
Stormzy was reportedly seen at the Black Lives Matter protests in London’s Parliament Square last weekend and has frequently been outspoken on race and British politics.
“I am not the UK’s shining example of what supposedly happens when a black person works hard. There are millions of us. We are not far and few,” he said.
“We have to fight against the odds of a racist system stacked against us and designed for us to fail from before we are even born.” In 2018, Stormzy announced he would fund two black British students to go to the University of Cambridge and subsequently funded two more.
Anti-racism protests, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement have triggered a debate about how Britain commemorates its imperial past.
Statues glorifying slave traders and colonialists have been torn down in recent days and another Black Lives Matter march is scheduled to take place in London on Friday.
Stormzy has announced he will donate £10m to black British causes over the next 10 years: “Organisations, charities and movements that are committed to fighting racial inequality, justice reform, and black empowerment within the UK.”
In December 2019, he said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that “Britain has a racism problem it doesn’t like to admit”, and that Boris Johnson “encourages hate among others”.
He said British people “feel encouraged. It’s like Trump … Before people had to hide their racism … Now, these people have the confidence to come out in public to say everything.”
In 2016, following the police killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castle, and other black Americans in the US, he said: “All I can do is urge everyone to do more, that’s what I’m going to do. Protest, march, donate, speak out, call out bullshit, build within your community and, help those in need. Whatever it is that needs to be done.”
At the Brit awards in 2018, he castigated Theresa May and the Conservative government over the handling of the Grenfell Tower fire aftermath, using a freestyle rap. He also appeared on a version of Bridge Over Troubled Water to benefit victims of the disaster.
Numerous other cultural figures have donated to causes in the wake of the Floyd killing and amid global Black Lives Matter protests. Korean group BTS, who is the world’s biggest boy band, donated $1m to Black Lives Matter, with the donation later matched by fans via a crowdfunding initiative.
Stormzy was scheduled to be on a world tour throughout 2020, playing 55 dates across five continents, but these shows have steadily been postponed due to coronavirus. He is currently at No 7 in the UK charts with the track I Dunno alongside rappers Tion Wayne and Dutchavelli.