Earlier this week Sam Smith took to Twitter to reveal that he was “absolutely speechless” after he witnessed his friend being racially abused in public in London. Which is fair enough — most of us would be a little lost for words after witnessing a verbal attack based on the colour of a person’s skin.
Just experienced my friend getting verbally abused racially in London. I am absolutely SPEECHLESS.
— Sam Smith (@samsmith) January 20, 2016
Except Smith should probably have stopped there because his follow-up tweet caused a bit of a stir.
“I never ever ever ever thought that would happen here. Absolutely speechless and hurt,” he posted.
Several Twitter users were riled by this on two counts: firstly, that the singer was apparently so naive that he thought racism didn’t exist in London and, secondly, that he himself was “hurt” by the attack, even though the abuse wasn’t directed at him.
“I feel like I have to shine some sort of light on it,” he continued. “The police were so unhelpful in the situation and its deeply shocked me. (sic)”
Unfortunately a lot of people didn’t applaud Smith for “shining a light” on racism and decided to mock him instead.
— Mary Elizabeth Brazil (@maryebrazil) January 20, 2016
Why is Sam Smith so shocked that racism exists? He needs to come out of that bubble of white privilege more often
— Karim (@its_karim) January 20, 2016
In response to the negative feedback Smith posted a statement on his Instagram page with the caption, “Please read.”
Show Racism the Red Card, an anti-racism charity, has spoken up in support of Smith. The campaign’s coordinator Gavin Sutherland told BBC Newsbeat: “To witness it or experience it is shocking and it’s good that he is highlighting this experience to his many followers. It’s also true that racist incidents occur every day and it needs to be educated against to prevent it. I am sure that he is aware of that and was reacting in shock to a personal experience; it seems silly to criticise someone for that.”