OK, so I’ve heard of the British girl group Little Mix, but I didn’t know who Jesy Nelson was until last week. That’s when the former Little Mix-er released the video for her first solo single, “Boyz,” featuring Nicki Minaj. The song samples Diddy’s 2001 hit “Bad Boy for Life”, and the video is basically a gender-swapped recreation of the music video.
Diddy Love even makes a cameo (in the Ben Stiller/annoyed neighbor role). And while my first impression of “Boyz” was that it kinda sucked and I couldn’t understand a word Jesy was singing, I did not think it was problematic. Until I was informed that Jesy Nelson is not Black. Yep, the above photos are of a 30-year-old white British lady. Obviously, the people cried, “blackfishing!” And in an interview with Vulture, Jesy responded to the claims. Her defense is basically, “Huh? Wha? But I love Black culture.” Which is a pretty great excuse (if half your brains have been scooped out)!
In the Vulture article, the interviewer points out that “there’s been a notable shift” in the way Jesy’s been marketed since becoming a solo “R&B-first pop star.” They brought up an August interview with The Guardian, in which Jesy was asked about the blackfishing accusations and she responded by saying that she was upset by the allegations and wouldn’t wanna offend anyone, but she “wasn’t aware that’s how people felt”. Vulture asked, “On reflection, do you understand the points being made?” Here’s Jesy’s answer:
“The whole time I was in Little Mix I never got any of that. And then I came out of [the band] and people all of a sudden were saying it. I wasn’t on social media around that time, so I let my team [deal with it], because that was when I’d just left. But I mean, like, I love Black culture. I love Black music. That’s all I know; it’s what I grew up on. I’m very aware that I’m a white British woman; I’ve never said that I wasn’t.”
Then the interviewer asked if she was deleting comments that accused her of blackfishing on Instagram. Jesy said, “I don’t know about that. Maybe it was my team.” Following the interview, Jesy’s publicist confirmed that her management had indeed deleted comments and blocked users. In a post-interview email, Jesy claimed her team was doing that to protect her from her mental health (she’s been vocal about how online bullying has affected her).
Here’s the video that brought even more blackfishing and “blaccent” accusations Jesy’s way:
FYI, 2021 isn’t the first time Jesy’s been accused of blackfishing. She got shit in 2018 for wearing dreads in a now-deleted Instagram pic:
Why does Nicki always work with problematic artists? Like that girl is WHITE pic.twitter.com/j9FZgdbSiy
— 𝙫𝙚𝙡𝙢𝙖.🐇 (@medicinebeer) October 9, 2021
For context, here’s an old Jesy pic:
Jesy Nelson everyone. pic.twitter.com/yP3L29Gm
— beth (@perrieslbgt) October 24, 2012
Jesy left Little Mix last December, citing mental health issues. A few days ago she admitted she didn’t keep in touch with any of her former bandmates. Fans soon noticed that Jesy’s former Little Mix bandmates, Jade Thirlwall, and Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards, and Perrie Edwards’ dog, Hatchi, had all unfollowed Jesy on Instagram:
Little Mix have all unfollowed former bandmate Jesy Nelson on Instagram. pic.twitter.com/DGxHbYZtal
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) October 9, 2021
Don’t worry, Jesy. You may have lost some girlfriends, but Amelia Hamlin, Rita Ora, Iggy Azalea, Bhad Bhabie, and the Kardashians are more than happy to welcome you into Blackfishing Club. Remember: the first rule of Blackfishing Club is play so, so dumb. And for most of these gals, that’s not exactly a challenge.