Leona Lewis has detailed her encounter with a ''racist'' shop owner who thought she and her dad were thieves.
Leona Lewis has detailed her encounter with a ''racist'' shop owner.
The 'Bleeding Love' hitmaker and her father had spotted a ''cute store'' in Fulham, West London, after she'd been to a meeting with her management company a few years ago and decided to go inside as she was looking for some items for her new home.
She said: ''I didn't realise at the time that all of the other customers were white. Me and my dad were the only black people.''
While browsing, the 35-year-old star and her father noticed the owner had began ''hovering around'' them.
She continued: ''Eventually, she came up to my dad and I and said, 'You need to put that stuff down, you're not allowed to touch it'.
''Every other person was picking stuff up, looking at it. [So] I immediately knew what was happening and I asked her, 'Why? Everyone else is picking stuff up. Why do we have to put stuff down? We're just looking at it, I'm probably going to buy it.' ''
According to Leona, the store owner became so confrontational, including threatening to call police, other customers left the shop because it was so uncomfortable.
She said in a video shared to Instagram: ''It sparked a rage in me. I started saying, 'No,I'm not going to put it down, I'm going to buy it. Why are you targeting us?'
''[By now it was just] me, this woman, and my dad in the store. And... she became really defensive, really agitated, and ran behind the counter. She said she was going to call the police on us if we didn't leave the store now.''
Leona was furious and shrugged off her dad's pleas for her to calm down and leave the shop.
She reflected: ''I couldn't calm down because I was so angry. I knew what this woman was doing to us. But my dad has been in positions like this before and he knew that I needed to make myself smaller. And that just enraged me even more.
''[Eventually, he] managed to get me to leave the store. And I sat in the car that was parked around the corner, and I just sobbed, absolutely sobbed. And my dad came out, grabbed something from the car, and went back into the shop.''
Five minutes later, the store owner knocked on the window and apologised - but only because she'd realised who the former 'X Factor' winner was.
She recalled: ''She said, 'I'm so so sorry, I'm so sorry, I didn't know who you were.' And my heart kind of sank.
''[So] I confronted her and said, 'You're racist. You're a racist. You targeted me and my dad, you wanted to throw us out of the store because we're black. You're racist.' ''
Leona explained the woman was ''very in denial'' and claimed she had just been scared and wrongly believed the star and her dad were going to take something, and urged people to speak up if they ever see something similar.
She said: ''This is the conditioning we have. This is racism. So when people in the UK are saying that racism isn't a problem here, it is a problem. It's a big problem.
''The white people in that store left in disgust because they knew it was wrong, but they didn't say anything. And because they didn't say anything, the situation escalated.
''For the people that are not speaking out now, you're the people who just left.
''You need to say something, you need to acknowledge that [racism is] happening... because, if you don't, you're diminishing our pain, and diminishing our humanity...
''I'm in pain, and I'm tired, and I'm sick of it.''
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