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Jesy Nelson responds to “Blackfishing” accusations following debut single release

The accusations emerged after the former Little Mix singer released debut single 'Boyz' last Friday

By Hollie Geraghty

Jesy Nelson and Nicki Minaj in the 'Bad Boys' video
Jesy Nelson and Nicki Minaj in the 'Bad Boys' video (Picture: YouTube)

Former Little Mix singer Jesy Nelson has responded to accusations of Blackfishing following the release of her debut single ‘Boyz’.

The newly solo artist had been accused of singing with a ‘Blaccent’ on the track, which features Nicki Minaj, and altering her appearance in the music video to appear racially ambiguous. 

Blackfishing is a recently coined term used to describe someone who is accused of going to great lengths in order to pretend they are black on social media.

In an interview with Vulture published last week on the same day as her new single release, she was asked if she understood the points made in previous Blackfishing allegations made by The Guardian in August.

“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,” she says.

“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.”

Nelson was also asked if comments calling her out for Blackfishing were being deleted on Instagram. She said: “I don’t know about that. Maybe it was my team.”

Her publicist has since confirmed that her management had been deleting some comments and blocked users.

“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,” Nelson said via email.

“I’ve spent years being bullied online, so I limit the amount I go on socials. My management team have access to my account & they were trying to protect me & my mental health.”

Vulture added that Nelson cancelled follow up calls to discuss Blackfishing in further detail.

​​Her publicist sent a statement on her behalf instead: “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.”

In the interview she was also asked if she feels she has changed how she acts and dresses.

“No, not at all. I’m just 100 percent being myself. 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,” she says.

“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.”

Nelson announced she was leaving Little Mix in December 2020, signing a solo record deal with Polydor in May.