Mel B says she was asked to leave designer store for being black even at the height of Spice Girl fame

She was shopping for outfits to wear in a meeting with Prince Charles and Nelson Mandela

Mel B says she was asked to leave designer store for being black even at the height of Spice Girl fame
(Getty Images)
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Melanie Brown (Mel B) has opened up about the time when she was asked to leave a designer clothes shop because she was black, despite being at the height of her Spice Girls' fame.

The 45-year-old singer claims she was confronted by a store worker while shopping for outfits in South Africa to wear in a meeting with Prince Charles and Nelson Mandela. She was at the store with the four other members of the girl band, but none of them were asked to leave.

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"There were times when there was obvious racism, I was asked to leave a designer clothes shop in Sun City when I was with all the other girls and we were there performing for Prince Charles and Nelson Mandela," Mel told the Daily Star. "Of course, all the girls had a go at the assistant because they were so shocked. It's pretty awful to think I wasn't actually shocked because if you are brown then there's always a part of you that expects some confrontation."

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Melanie Brown, Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton, and Melanie Chisholm attend the after party for the press night of 'Viva Forever', a musical based on the music of The Spice Girls (Getty Images)

According to the outlet, the band was in South Africa in 1997 to perform at a charity concert in Johannesburg as well as meet Mandela.

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Mel opened up about her experiences in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody after former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin pinned him to the ground with his knee for nearly nine minutes, thereby sparking protests around the globe.

Nonetheless, the 'I Want You Back' hitmaker said she was "strong enough, old enough and brave enough" to call out industry bosses if they ever made comments about her race.

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She recalled one instance when a stylist asked her to straighten her curly locks for the Spice Girls breakout hit 'Wannabe'.

"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,'" Mel B said. "I refused point-blank because my hair was my identity and yes it was different from all the other girls but that was what the Spice Girls were about — celebrating our differences."

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"And then I'd get really emotional letters from girls, and their mums, 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," she added. "That was a big deal to me."

Melanie Brown walks the red carpet during the 76th Venice Film Festival (Getty Images)

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Mel B, who grew up with parents Andrea and Martin and younger sister Danielle, said she was aware from a young age that she rarely saw people of the same color — especially since her mum is British and her dad hailed from Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean.

"My mum made friends with a lady who also had a mixed-race baby called Sherelle, who is still my good friend to this day, and we used to play together. The only other little brown girl for miles around," Mel B remembered. "But it was really when I went to school that I understood the color of my skin had such an effect on the other kids."

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"All of a sudden I was called all these names I didn't understand like 'P**i', 'Redskin' and obviously the N-word," she explained. "I used to get chased home by kids shouting these names at me, so I learned to run fast."

"When I was older I would always win all the races on sports day and that was because I’d learned to run fast at such a young age," she added.

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