Radio Sandwell African / Caribbean News

Voice winner Jermain Jackman was refused entry into own party

2015-06-03 14:32:56

Jermain JackmanJermain Jackman was turned away from his own after-show party by a doorman

Jermain Jackman shot to fame as winner of BBC One's singing competition The Voice - yet despite this he was once barred from an after-party for one of his own gigs.

After a video emerged showing black students being barred from a club in Leicester due to their race, he was one of many who contacted the BBC to say similar things had happened to them.

The incident outside the Ghost nightclub in Leicester struck a chord with Jackman, who tweeted in response to the story. He says himself, his brothers and friends have all experienced racism outside nightclubs in London.

"I remember standing outside a Mayfair club after finishing a big performance with a couple of other contestants off The Voice and The X Factor and other TV shows," he says.

"I remember standing outside for an hour and I was hearing excuse after excuse from the bouncers."

Eventually one of the organisers of the concert got him admitted but his friend, who is Turkish, was still refused entry.

It was not the first time he had been turned away from a club. Partway through filming The Voice, Jackman changed his haircut after being turned away by another doorman in an incident he believes was racially-motivated.

"I remember one of the security guards saying 'We don't know your haircut, it might be a gang-affiliated type of haircut'," he says.



"You've got so many black people who've been affected by [being turned away] who want to shed light on it and expose it for what it is," he adds.

"I have friends who work in the promoting industry and they tell me 'Jermain, you won't believe what I heard today. I had to quit my job today because of what this woman from a club told me, that they can't let my black friends in'."

Jackman's experience appears to be far from isolated.

James Ataguba, a law student and blogger, also tweeted @BBCEngland, saying he had experienced similar discrimination trying to get into clubs.

He said doormen usually gave excuses to him and his friends, such as them being "too drunk" to get in, but on another occasion one had specifically mentioned his race.

tweetLaw student James Ataguba tweeted in response to the story

"I was very mad as the bouncer was winding me up as well," he says. "He said I didn't have rights, he said I should stop wasting my time and that myself and my friends should go somewhere more 'colour friendly'.

"I'll never forget. It makes me feel small, like something about me is not good enough to be in the same place as everyone else."

So what is it like from the doorman's point of view? Is race a consideration when deciding whether or not to let someone to get in?

One former doorman, who asked not to be named, said he laughed when he saw the video of the Leicester incident - but not because he agreed with the doorman's actions. Rather, as a young Asian man who had experienced the same thing trying to get into clubs, he was glad the incident had been filmed.

"When I saw that I couldn't stop laughing because I thought that happens day in, day out, and someone has got it on camera for a change," he says.

He worked as a doorman for about six years at various venues in Nottingham city centre and says there was "a lot of stigma around groups of Asian lads and black lads".

"It was one of those really awkward situations where, even if you knew them, you would have to turn them back."

OrahMr Orah said he was shocked by the experience.

He says doormen have to make a judgement call about potential customers and this was partly based on their appearance.

Black or Asian people are sometimes turned away because doormen perceive - consciously or subconsciously - they are more likely to cause trouble, he believes.

But he says managers have also specifically told him they do not want black or Asian people in their premises, particularly large groups of black and Asian men.

He remembers working at one bar in Nottingham in particular.

"The manager said 'I don't really want Asian or coloured people in here'," he says. "In my head I was thinking 'I don't want to work here'."

Fisayo LongeFashion and lifestyle blogger Fisayo Longe (right) was turned away from a club in London

But is discrimination in the nightclub queue simply a matter of race?

Fashion and lifestyle blogger Fisayo Longe says in her experience discrimination happens to black men more often than to black women and she is normally allowed into clubs.

However, she says she was once told by a white club employee in London she was being refused entry either because of her race or attractiveness.

She says he told her: "Maybe because you're black, but there are some black people inside. Probably because you're not good looking enough."

The club declined to comment when it was contacted by the BBC.

"These doormen don't realise the impact that their actions have on people," she says. "I was angry that we wasted time and money and both angry and sad that this sort of thing still happens."

The CoronetA group attending an Irish Travellers conference were awarded damages after they were denied entry to this pub

So what is the legal position? Solicitor Martin Howe says the law stipulates clubs cannot turn people away because of their race, as this is classed as a "protected characteristic" under the Equality Act 2010. The law applies equally to gender, meaning groups of men also cannot legally be refused entry.

He was among a group of people turned away from an Irish Travellers conference at a Wetherspoon pub in London, which resulted in the pub chain being ordered to pay £24,000 in damages last month.

Just weeks later Wetherspoon admitted liability in a similar case, agreeing to pay £10,500 to three Travellers who were refused entry to a pub in Cambridge.

However, Mr Howe believes the rise of the mobile phone and social media may be about to change the situation at the nightclub door for good.

He says phones are causing a "revolution" in the area of racial discrimination because they enable people to record video evidence - such as when Chelsea fans were filmed singing racist chants and refusing to let a black man on a Paris Metro train.

And the reputational damage this can cause can be more satisfying than any financial reward, he says.

"If you've got it on a mobile phone you've got a video with a soundtrack.

"If you've got the evidence, getting it recognised publically is much more important than any damages or money involved."


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