BANG! NEWS – Mel B was good at sport because she learned to “run fast” when fleeing racist classmates at school.
The Spice Girls singer – whose mother is white British and father from the Caribbean – admitted she rarely saw other people of colour when growing up in Leeds, North England, and she was a target of abuse from a very young age as a result.
She said, “I was aware from a very young age that I didn’t see many other people of my colour…
“But it was really when I went to school that I understood the colour of my skin had such an effect on the other kids.
“All of a sudden I was called all these names I didn’t understand like ‘Redskin’.
“I used to get chased home by kids shouting these names at me, so I learnt to run fast. When I was older I would always win all the races on sports day and that was because I’d learnt to run fast at such a young age.”
Mel recalled how a stylist ordered her to straighten her hair for the music video for Spice Girls’ debut single Wannabe in 1996 but she “refused point blank”.
She told the Daily Star Online, “I remember when we first did the video for Wannabe we had a big styling team and one of the first things they said to me was, ‘OK, so we need to straighten your hair’.
“I refused point blank because my hair was my identity and yes it was different to all the other girls but that was what the Spice Girls were about – celebrating our differences.”
The 45-year-old singer was proud she stood her ground because of how important it was to young fans.
She added, “And then I’d get really emotional letters from girls, and their moms, saying how incredible it was that they had someone to ‘be’ when they did dances in the playground at school and they were actually daring to wear their hair out and proud rather than scraped back or straightened.
“That was a big deal to me.”