Recently, pop star and former Fifth Harmony member Normani appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with SZA and Megan Thee Stallion.
For those who don’t know, Normani was the only Black girl in her former girl group. Judging from the way they split and the conversations (and performances) that have been happening since, it doesn’t appear that it was all that amicable. Rumor has it that their label Epic was more invested in the career of the Camila Cabello—also a former member of the group than the other young women.
Since then, Cabello and Normani have gone on to enjoy successful solo careers.
But recently Cabello came under fire when racist social media posts from her past resurfaced.
The Tumblr posts, which have since been deleted, included racist memes and the repeated use of the n-word, and there was a post making fun of Asian languages.
It was a whole mess.
Camila apologized for the posts, claiming that she was a teenager when she initially shared them. She said that she’s learned and grown since then and won’t repeat those same mistakes.
The incident was a topic for a day before it fizzled out. But for Normani, the lone Black girl in Camila’s former group, the revelation of Camila’s old tweets likely reminded her of Cabello’s use of the N-word in text messages with her friends, jokes etc when the two were still in the group together.
She apologized for that language before as well.
During her interview with Rolling Stone, Normani spoke about the racists posts and alluded to her past experiences with Cabello’s and the racist rhetoric of online trolls.
Rolling Stone writes that as the only Black member in the group Normani often felt “other.” There were times when her vocals were the only ones left off of a song. And the online bullying didn’t help matters. Trolls photoshopped images of her being lynched and there were death threats. It’s an experience from which she is still scarred, according to her father.
When asked by Rolling Stone about Cabello’s racist posts, Normani took time to think about her response, telling the interviewer that she wanted to be concise. ““I just want to make sure that anything I say is exactly what I mean,” she offers. “I’ll get back to you on that.”
After a couple of weeks, she did get back to the interviewer in an e-mail statement that read:
“I want to be very clear about what I’m going to say on this uncomfortable subject and figured it would be best to write out my thoughts to avoid being misconstrued, as I have been in the past. I struggled with talking about this because I didn’t want it to be a part of my narrative, but I am a black woman, who is a part of an entire generation that has a similar story.
I face senseless attacks daily, as does the rest of my community. This represents a day in the life for us. I have been tolerating discrimination far before I could even comprehend what exactly was happening. Direct and subliminal hatred has been geared towards me for many years solely because of the color of my skin. It would be dishonest if I said that this particular scenario didn’t hurt me. It was devastating that this came from a place that was supposed to be a safe haven and a sisterhood, because I knew that if the tables were turned I would defend each of them in a single heartbeat. It took days for her to acknowledge what I was dealing with online and then years for her to take responsibility for the offensive tweets that recently resurfaced. Whether or not it was her intention, this made me feel like I was second to the relationship that she had with her fans.
I don’t want to say that this situation leaves me hopeless because I believe that everyone deserves the opportunity for personal growth. I really hope that an important lesson was learned in this. I hope there is genuine understanding about why this was absolutely unacceptable. I have spoken what is in my heart and pray this is transparent enough that I never have to speak on it again. To my brown men and women, we are like no other. Our power lies within our culture. We are descendants of an endless line of strong and resilient kings and queens. We have been and will continue to win in all that we do simply because of who we are. We deserve to be celebrated, I deserve to be celebrated and I’m just getting started.”