Jesy Nelson: what ex-Little Mix star said about ‘blackfishing’ after Boyz release - and Nicki Minaj response

The music video for Jesy Nelson’s debut solo single Boyz has attracted controversy over ‘blackfishing’ accusations

Following the release of her new debut solo single Boyz, former Little Mix singer Jesy

Nelson is facing fresh accusations of “blackfishing”, a term used to describe a non-Black person who tries to appear Black through the use of things like tanning, hairstyling, make up and more.

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Rapper Nicki Minaj, who features on the new song with Nelson, came to the singers defence on an Instagram Live stream, and also on Twitter.

This is everything you need to know.

What is ‘blackfishing’?

The term “blackfishing” refers to someone who uses things like hairstyling and makeup to create and enhance certain features to make it appear as if they have Black heritage or are racially ambiguous.

The term was coined by journalist Wanna Thompson after she saw a Twitter discussion about white women cosplaying as Black women.

Blackfishing is problematic for a number of reasons, and because it allows a person to pick and choose the “cool” parts of being black, without facing any of the discrimination that Black people do.

Thompson said: “Black is cool, unless you’re actually black.”

In an interview with The Guardian, Johanna Yaovi, the founder of the Curl Talk Project, said: “It’s about picking and choosing common Black traits and characteristics for one’s benefit, while we continue to face discrimination on a day to day basis.

“As Black women, we are constantly fighting for clear, authentic representation and diversity and then have to face individuals who do blackfishing, individuals who therefore look ambiguous enough for brands to use them as emblems for diversity.”

Other celebrities to have been accused of blackfishing include Rita Ora, Ariana Grande and Kim Kardashian.

What has Jesy Nelson said?

Nelson has been accused of blackfishing before in the past, however fresh accusations have been aimed at the ex-Little Mix singer following the release of her debut solo single Boyz, featuring Nicki Minaj and a cameo from P Diddy.

In the video, Nelson can be seen with a dark tan and her hair is styled with wigs and braids. She also is wearing basketball shorts and gold teeth, and can be heard singing about wanting a boy who is “so hood”.

To promote the song being released, Nelson and Minaj joined up to do an Instagram Live stream together.

During her live stream, Nelson denied that she had darkened her skin for the music video, and explained that she had been to Antigua for three weeks before the shoot and was simply sporting a deep tan.

Jesy Nelson and Nicki Minaj appeared together in the music video for Boyz (Photo: YouTube)

She said that she is “really lucky that as a white girl, when I’m in the sun I tan so dark”.

Nelson also added that she did not think she was doing anything wrong with regards to her hair in the video, as her hair is “naturally curly” and that she “wanted to get a wig that emulated the same texture as my hair”.

She said: “I personally want to say that my intention was never, ever to offend people of colour with this video and my song because like I said, growing up as a young girl, this is the music that I listened to.

“These are the videos that I watched and thought were the best. For me personally, ’90s/2000 hip hop, R&B music was the best era of music.

“My intention was never, ever, ever want to offend anyone and genuinely it actually does really hurt me that I may have offended people and actually, like, hurt people’s feelings just by genuinely celebrating something that I love.”

What have other members of Little Mix said about blackfishing?

It has been alleged by online influencer NoHun that Nelson’s former bandmate Leigh-Anne Pinnock called Nelson out for blackfishing during a series of private Instagram messages.

NoHun shared screenshots of the messages allegedly from Pinnock which appeared to show Pinnock claiming that Nelson had blocked the remaining Little Mix members on Instagram, and said: “Do a video about her being a blackfish instead… She blocked us. Cut us off.”

Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock in the winners room during The BRIT Awards 2019 (Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Nelson recently confirmed that she is no longer in contact with her ex-bandmates Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards.

However, many are claiming that the private messages from reportedly Pinnock are fake, and at the very least they have not been verified to be real.

During her livestream with Minaj, Nelson did imply that Pinnock had raised the issue with her in the past.

She said: “I was in a group with two women of colour for 10 years and it was never brought up to me until the last music video I did with them when Leigh-Anne messaged me.”

What has Nicki Minaj said?

During the live stream, Minaj hit back against Pinnock, who currently has not said anything publicly about Nelson.

Minaj said: “You was in this woman’s group and you didn’t talk about this s**t for 10 years, and as soon as you see she’s got a video come out with Nicki Minaj and Puffy, now you sending text messages.

“If you want a solo career baby just say that, you can go out and put your own music, we’re going to support you and love you. You don’t have to attack someone else, if that’s how you felt, why was you being in the videos with her for 10 years?

“Now all of a sudden she’s not in a video with you, you have some negative evil thing to do and say.”

Following the Instagram Live stream with Nelson, Minaj took to Twitter to respond to some of the comments being made regarding the blackfishing accusations.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall, Nicki Minaj, Perrie Edwards and Jesy Nelson of Little Mix perform on stage during the MTV EMAs 2018 (Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images for MTV)

She referenced Pinnock again in a tweet, writing “Don’t call thing out when they benefit your personal vendetta to ppl. Call them out immediately once you see it chile. Don’t wait a decade after you’ve made millions with the person” with a laughing face emoji.

She followed up with another tweet: “JeLeigh btchs actin real messy. ~ if you know someone has been suicidal from bullying in the past, why try to get a bunch of ppl to bully them again about smthng else, on an even bigger scale? Shame on you - that’s rlly sad. You don’t know what ppl can deal with. Mental health.”

In a tweet asking why the blackfishing label doesn’t ever seem to apply to men, Minaj replied: “It’ll only apply if they do a solo song with me. Right after I work with Doja [Cat] she was racist, remember? Now it’s all good? They said Bia was Black phising once our song came out, too. Bwaahahaaaha. But all these other artists acting like Black caricatures get praised.”

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