“It’s Me, And SZA. Who Else?” Singer Normani Shares Fellow Fifth Harmony Members Couldn’t Relate To Her Struggles As A Brown Girl

January 12, 2019  |  

normani experienced subconscious racism

Source: Emma McIntyre / Getty

It’s no secret that racism in the music industry is real (I swear every time I hear about a white girl talking about twerking a hip-hop dance craze that white people have ultimately killed gets its wings). Singer Normani, formerly of pop group Fifth Harmony, recently shed light on racism and all of the double-standards she’s faced as a brown girl in the music industry.

In an interview with Billboard magazine, the 22-year-old shares she feels added pressure to succeed with the upcoming debut of her solo album because she wants to represent brown girls everywhere:

“There’s a responsibility I have as a Black woman — one of the very few — to have the power to kill it.”

“Even in the mainstream, there’s not many of us — especially chocolate girls. Like, being African-American is one thing, but girls [with] my complexion. It’s unheard of. It’s me, and SZA. Who else?”

When it comes to the few brown girls bringing it in pop music particularly, Normani shares she looks to another famous super group for inspiration:

“I see myself in Kelly [Rowland]. She’s killing it for brown girls. She carries herself gracefully, and ‘Motivation’ — girl, that was the prime!”

The “Love Lies” singer also revealed that she experienced subconscious racism as a member of the pop super group and was the only member forced to sing background vocals. She shares she was often treated much differently than the other members both by fans and music industry professionals alike:

“It was a subconscious thing. You think, ‘Why am I the least-followed in the group?’ Even if you don’t recognize that you’re paying close attention to it, it takes a toll on your confidence. You worry is it me? Is it because I’m Black? Or am I just not talented?”

What made the situation even more difficult for the singer who was born in Atlanta but raised in New Orleans, was that the people she was often closest couldn’t exactly relate to her struggles:

“They tried to be there for me as best as they could. But I don’t think they had the tools that they needed because it’s not their experience.”

“I can give them credit for trying to be there for me, but at the same time, the girls don’t experience things the way I did.”

The former X-Factor competitor also revealed feelings that many Black women can relate to when it comes to whether you’re at a law firm or laying down tracks in a recording studio.  She recalls wanting to be recognized for her talent in its entirety when some just labeled her as “the dancer” of the group:

“It was like, ‘Hey, I’m also here, and I’m really good at what I do. I work just as hard. I feel like I have to work 10 times harder just to prove to everybody that I also deserve to be here.”

“Even if you don’t recognize that you’re paying close attention to it, it takes a toll on your confidence. You worry — is it me? Is it because I’m black? Or am I just not talented?'”

Normani clearly has a plan to make her mark on music, not just for herself, but for other women who look like here, regardless of what area code they’re located in:

“I see myself performing at the Grammys, traveling the world with my family. I want to meet all my fans across the world. There’s so many places I have yet to go to. I’m like, ‘Oh, wow, I really do have fans there. People know who Normani is?’”

“I don’t want to come and go. I want to be the one.”

“But through it all I want to make sure that I remember who Normani is.”

You can check out Normani’s latest single with Sam Smith “Dancing With A Stranger” below:

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