Artist News

Jesy Nelson responds to ‘blackfishing’ accusations

By | Published on Monday 11 October 2021

Jesy Nelson

Jesy Nelson has said that she would “never intentionally do anything to make myself look racially ambiguous”, following accusations of ‘blackfishing’ with her new solo single ‘Boyz’ and its video. She also says that comments making these accusations were removed from her social media accounts by her management in an effort to protect her mental health.

Accusations that Nelson has attempted to make herself look and sound black came up in an interview with The Guardian earlier this year and – with the release of ‘Boyz’ – she was again questioned on the subject in a new interview with Vulture.

In its article, Vulture says that – in the new song – Nelson “sing-talks, arguably in a ‘blaccent'”, while a separate review says that “the video sees Nelson moving into a bougie (white) neighbourhood and immediately turning her garden into what looks like the prison yard from [Lil Nas X’s] ‘Industry Baby’. The titular bad boyz get their street cred from aesthetics primarily – wearing grills, chains, and bandanas as they wait on the Romford, UK native with beads in her hair”.

Responding to the accusations in the new interview, she says: “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”.

“I’m just 100% being myself”, she goes on. “If you look at me on ‘X Factor’ with my big curly hair, I was wearing trainers and combats – that’s who I am as an artist and as Jesy. Now I’m out of Little Mix, I’ve gone back to being who I am. Like I said, I don’t ever want to be an artist who’s being told what to wear or what music to make. I want to be authentic and true to myself, and if people don’t like that, don’t be my fan. Don’t be a part of my journey”.

In follow-up statements to Vulture following the interview, specifically commenting on the deletion of comments from her Instagram account, Nelson says: “I know comments relating to this had previously been deleted from my IG account, I only found out afterwards that a member of my management team had deleted comments. I’ve spent years being bullied online, so I limit the amount I go on socials. My management team have access to my account and they were trying to protect me and my mental health”.

Two further planned calls with Vulture to further discuss the blackfishing accusations were cancelled, with Nelson providing a statement instead, saying: “I take all those comments made seriously. I would never intentionally do anything to make myself look racially ambiguous, so that’s why I was initially shocked that the term was directed at me”.

You can read the full Vulture interview here – and watch the video for ‘Boyz’ here.