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Grime artist Stormzy performs at the Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, England on June 24, 2017.
Grant Pollard/Invision/AP
Citizenship

Stormzy Cancels Headline Festival Slot to 'Make a Point' Against Racism

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Racial profiling can mean anything from excessive use of stop and search to news stories that make assumptions about somebody based off their race or ethnicity. It’s part of a wider problem addressed by Global Goal 10 to reduce inequalities — but is also a marker by which we can judge progress on Global Goal 16 for justice and strong institutions. Join our movement and take action here to fight injustice on the global stage.

Stormzy — rapper, activist, wicked skengman — has cancelled a headline festival appearance after an alleged racial profiling scandal.

The grime star made the call just hours before he was due to go on stage at Snowbombing Festival in Austria after an altercation between his team and security staff.

Take Action: This Inequality Cannot Go On. Ask the World’s Richest People to Help End Extreme Poverty

The Glastonbury headliner, 25, shared what happened in an Instagram story.

He alleged that the festival’s security “targeted and aggressively handled” his management team after accusing them of carrying a weapon, “despite no one fitting the description”.

Stormzy apologised to his disappointed fans, but insisted that it was important to stand up to racism.

“The last ever thing I wanna do is let down anyone who’s taken time out to support me,” Stormzy wrote. “So please hear me out, I too would be fuming if I travelled and spent money to go and watch an artist and they pull out last minute.”

“However, if these are the drastic steps that I need to take to make a point against racism and racial profiling, then trust me I’m taking it,” he added.

Later, Stormzy shared a screengrab of a WhatsApp group that appears to show somebody offering drinks tokens at the festival to any staff member “saying something positive about security” on Twitter.

It provides an example, urging people to tweet that “the security were brilliant or they were helpful.”

Indeed, the rapper singled out one account from a regular attendee who thought the festival might have made an “honest mistake”, claiming the Snowbombing security were the “kindest, most welcoming collection of humans you could ever wish to meet.”

Read More: Stormzy Launches Scholarship to Send Black Students to Cambridge University

Stormzy responded: “Young black people always seem to be on the receiving end of these ‘honest mistakes’.”

The account holder has since deleted the tweet with an apology, saying that he’s “learnt from this”, while fans rushed to support one of Britain’s most successful rappers.

“Snowbombing’s security were alerted to the possibility that an individual at the festival was allegedly carrying a weapon,” a spokesperson from the festival said. “In accordance with protocol, a small number of attendees, including Stormzy’s manager, were escorted to the nearest exit, searched and no weapon was found.”

“Stormzy’s management were unhappy with the manner by which this took place and as a result Stormzy will no longer be performing,” it added.

For Stormzy, activism and music are one and the same — and a useful way to fight racism while empowering people from marginalised or underrepresented backgrounds.

In August 2018, he launched the “Stormzy Scholarship” to pay for two black students to attend Cambridge University — one of the most prestigious universities in the world — for the entirety of a four-year undergraduate course. The previous year he donated £9,000 to help a young black woman from south London study at Harvard in the US.

He also launched a partnership with Penguin Random House called #MERKY Books to help young writers get their first big publishing break — and made the 2018 BRIT Awards all about the Grenfell Tower tragedy.