The remaining members of Little Mix — Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards — publicly addressed former member Jesy Nelson’s Blackfishing controversy.
For those who may be unaware, Nelson was accused of Blackfishing (adapting certain elements of Black culture and aesthetics for personal advancement) upon the release of the music video for her debut solo single “Boyz.” Accusations stemmed from complaints related to her tanned skin and over-lined lips, according to Vulture. The publication also noted that she sang in what could be considered a Blaccent on the track.
Thirlwall took the lead in briefly discussing the situation during a recent interview with The Telegraph.
“Capitalising on aspects of Blackness without having to endure the daily realities of the Black experience is problematic and harmful to people of colour,” Thirlwall explained. She added that Little Mix in no way condoned such behavior.
“We don’t want to talk about the video, or be critical, but one thing we will clarify regarding the Blackfishing situation is that Jesy was approached by the group in a very friendly, educational manner,” she said. According to the group, this discussion happened before Nelson parted ways with Little Mix in December of 2020.
Nelson addressed the accusations in an interview with Vulture. The newly solo singer claimed the allegations of Blackfishing arose after she left the group behind.
“I love Black culture. I love Black music. That’s all I know; it’s what I grew up on,” she told the publication. “I’m very aware that I’m a white British woman; I’ve never said that I wasn’t.”
Nelson added that she did not feel she had changed the way she dressed and that she was being authentic to her artistry. In a statement sent to Vulture by her team she admitted to being “initially shocked” by the accusations.
While this marks the first time Little Mix addressed Nelson’s controversy in an interview, The Telegraph noted that leaked messages between Pinnock and a friend allegedly featured accusations that Nelson was Blackfishing.
Nicki Minaj, who is featured on Nelson’s debut single, waded into the controversy during a live stream with her collaborator. The rapper defended Nelson and slammed Pinnock’s alleged texts during the event. “It screams insecurity,” she said, according to ET.
Nelson, meanwhile, seemingly confirmed that Pinnock broached the topic of Blackfishing with her after shooting Little Mix’s 2020 music video for “Sweet Melody.”
“It’s just hard for me because I was in a group with two women of color for nine years and it was never brought up to me up until the last music video that I did with them,” she said during the live stream. “She [Pinnock] messaged me and said, ‘Jesy I just want to make sure that you’re aware…'”