As Finn Ross Russel from ESC Insight highlighted in a wonderful editorial last month, Eurovision 2021 will be the year of diverse narratives. Unfortunately, despite this edition being a landmark for representation, it is also a reckoning for how racial minority artists are treated by fan media and beyond. The fact that Tusse and the Swedish broadcaster SVT have had to reckon with racist backlash to Tusse’s participation during rehearsals week is a testament to this.
Following Sweden’s first rehearsal on the Ahoy stage, the contest’s official channels saw an influx of racist comments questioning Tusse’s right to participate in the contest for Sweden. Although he had been busy with rehearsals and interviews, he later brushed off the comments via his Instagram story:
As reported by Dagbladet, Lotta Furebäck, The Head of the Swedish delegation, denounced the comments:
I get so pissed and sorry that this is happening. Racism in all its forms is completely reprehensible, and it is clear that one is upset.Lotta Furebäck, Head of Delegation for Sweden
She also highlighted that it is difficult to protect artists against such comments, but is confident that the song and its message can overcome the toxicity.
We support Tusse and are there for him if and when needed. Tusse’s contribution “Voices” is largely about being accepted and dealing with exclusion in all forms, something we hope will become clear when he now shows himself to an even larger audience.Lotta Furebäck, Head of Delegation for Sweden
In the vein of an editorial we published back in the summer, we hope Eurovision fans will call out, report and denounce racism when we see it within the community and beyond.
Tousin Michael Chiza, who uses the moniker Tusse, was born in 2002 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His singing career began in 2018 where he participated in the Swedish talent show Talang 2018. His big breakthrough came when he won Swedish Idol the following year.
This year, he debuted at Melodifestivalen. Following immense hype behind his entry “Voices”, he qualified directly from the third heat and won with a landslide 175 points. He is the first debutant to win Melodifestivalen since Frans back in 2016 (unless you count The Mamas, of course).
Prior to his victory, Tim had the pleasure of speaking to Tusse, which you can watch below. More recently, Nathan and Wiv had a wonderful conversation about his love of Harry Potter, which will be on our YouTube channel soon!
Tusse will perform 4th in the first semi-final on May 18th.
Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to follow us on Spotify and YouTube to see our reactions to the news in the run up to Rotterdam!