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Ex-Little Mix star Jesy Nelson defends video in ‘blackfishing’ row

Jesy Nelson

Ex-Little Mix star Jesy Nelson defends video in ‘blackfishing’ row

It was a hotly anticipated solo single from the former member of one of Britain’s most successful music groups, Little Mix. But Jesy Nelson ’s foray back into the charts became mired in controversy after the singer was accused of “blackfishing” in her new music video.

Nelson, from Romford in east London, bore the brunt of social media criticism for her appearance in the video for Boyz. She was accused of blackfishing, a form of cultural appropriation where a non-black person tries to appear black or mixed race.

In a conversation on Instagram Live with Nicki Minaj, who provides a verse on the track, Nelson said she never intended to cause offence. The singer also denied using fake tan and said she had been to Antigua before the shoot, which explained her darker skin tone.

The video for the track, which also samples P Diddy’s 2001 single Bad Boy for Life, is a reimagining of his original, and includes a cameo from the veteran rapper. It begins in a picturesque US town, before the tranquillity is interrupted by the arrival of cars and a huge tour bus.

“I personally want to say that my intention was never, ever to offend people of colour with this video and my song because, like I said, growing up as a young girl, this is the music that I listened to,” Nelson said.

“These are the videos that I watched and thought were the best. For me personally, 90s/2000 hip-hop, R&B music was the best era of music. I just wanted to celebrate that. I just wanted to celebrate that era of music because it is what I love.”

It is not the first time Nelson has been accused of disingenuously using the aesthetics of black women and R&B, including by curling her hair a certain way or wearing cornrows, overlining her lips and wearing dark fake tan.

Blackfishing is derived from the term catfishing, which refers to a person using a fake picture or a fictional personality to lure people into a relationship.

Rita Ora, who is of Kosovan descent, has repeatedly been accused of styling herself in a way that made people believe she was biracial. Similarly, the Kardashians, Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea received backlash for trying to appropriate black culture.

Nelson’s comments this week followed reports that her former Little Mix bandmate Leigh-Anne Pinnock had warned her about blackfishing.

But Jesy Nelson said she was fortunate to easily tan when in the sun and told Minaj that Pinnock had previously commented on her propensity to tan. Her hair, she added, was naturally curly despite complaints she had changed her style. “I genuinely didn’t think I was doing anything wrong, because I’ve got naturally curly hair.”

Addressing alleged comments from Pinnock about blackfishing, Nelson said: “It’s just hard for me because I was in a group with two women of colour for nine years and it was never brought up to me up until the last music video I did with them.”

Minaj in turn defended Jesy Nelson and appeared to aim several barbs at the members of Little Mix. “Stop trying to hurt people and kill people’s lives and careers. This is the way people feed their families,” she said in the Instagram Live. “Stop. If you want a solo career, baby girl, just say that. Only jealous people do things like this.”

But Minaj and Nelson have courted further controversy by appearing to mock Pinnock, with many accusing Nelson of hypocrisy after she opened up about her own experiences of internet bullying in the BBC documentary Odd One Out last year.

Nelson announced her departure from Little Mix in December 2020 after nine years in the hugely successful girl group, who have sold more than 50m records worldwide and broke the record for the group with the most No 1 singles last year.

What is blackfishing?

Blackfishing is a form of cultural appropriation where a person pretends to be black or mixed race. The term is derived from the term catfishing, when someone uses fake pictures or makes up a fictional personality to lure people into a relationship.

Where did the term come from?

The term blackfishing was coined by the journalist Wanna Thompson on Twitter in 2018.

Thompson told CNN: “Blackfishing is when white public figures, influencers and the like do everything in their power to appear black. Whether that means to tan their skin excessively in an attempt to achieve ambiguity, or wear hairstyles and clothing trends that have been pioneered by black women.”

“Instead of appreciating black culture from the sidelines, there’s this need to own it, to participate in it without wanting the full experience of blackness and the systemic discrimination that comes with it.”

Why is it an issue?

Blackfishing allows people to participate in black culture without getting the full experience of being black, including the discrimination that comes with it.

Johanna Yaovi, the founder of the Curl Talk Project, told the Guardian: “It’s about picking and choosing common black traits and characteristics for one’s benefit, while we continue to face discrimination on a day-to-day basis.

“As black women, we are constantly fighting for clear, authentic representation and diversity and then have to face individuals who do blackfishing, individuals who therefore look ambiguous enough for brands to use them as emblems for diversity.”

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Burna Boy did not pay all patients’ bills’- UPTH clarifies

The University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) has faulted reports that musician, Burna Boy, covered all medical bills for patients during a recent visit to the hospital.

The hospital clarified that the music icon only settled the bills of selected patients at the facility, contrary to claims of covering all outstanding bills.

Mrs Elabha Meni, the institution’s spokesperson, made the clarification in a statement in Port Harcourt on Friday.

“We commend Burna Boy’s kindness in financially assisting select patients in our hospital to offset their bills during his visit on June 11.

“However, contrary to reports stating that all patients bills in UPTH were paid during the visit, only selected patients received cash gifts or donations.

“The hospital did not receive direct payments from the musician and his team on behalf of patients to support this worthy course of reducing healthcare cost,” Meni clarified.

Meni lauded the musician’s charitable act in helping those in need in the society.

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Kanayo O Kanayo calls out teen actress, Angel Unigwe, mother over alleged breach of contract

Veteran Nollywood actor and producer, Kanayo O. Kanayo, has called out teen actress, Angel Unigwe, and her mother over an alleged breach of contract.

The filmmaker claimed that Unigwe breached a filming contract with his production firm after her mother came and took her home before the expiration of the duration of the contract.

He called on Nollywood producers to boycott the teen actress, threatening that he would come to disrupt any shoot involving her.

Speaking in a video message shared via his Instagram page on Friday, Kanayo said, “A particular woman has been holding producers to ransom. And this is unfortunate; it has happened to me. Unfortunately, she is Angel Unigwe’s mother. A contract is reached by every producer, whether written or orally. But we found out that immediately after this woman takes money from you, everything changes. I’ve gotten reports from people before it happened to me.

“It happened last night that she took her daughter at 9 pm, when a particular day we agreed had not expired. 12 midnight is expiring into another day. She came and took her daughter at 9 pm.

“This is a clarion call for every producer. Please, I beg you, in the name of professionalism and all that unites us, from this moment, the 21st day of June 2024, any set that employs the services of Angel Unigwe, I will come to that set and make sure filming does not hold. You guys know what it is for an artiste to walk out on a set. There was no issue. I want to assure all of you, we had very good working relationship with Angel. [But] Her mother has been threatening many producers. So please, from this moment on, I will monitor every filming schedule. Any set where I found Angel Unigwe would be disrupted.”

Angel Unigwe has not yet responded to the allegations and neither has her mother.

 

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Mohbad’s family rejects autopsy report, seeks proper investigation

The legal team representing the family of Ilerioluwa Aloba, popularly known as Mohbad has expressed dissatisfaction with the toxicology test results concerning the late singer.

The legal practitioners Wahab Shittu SAN and Taiwo Odumosu, Esq., in a press statement jointly signed, faulted the handling of the procedures, adding that it raised serious concerns about the integrity and thoroughness of the investigation by the police and the medical team into Mohbad’s death.

The family also challenged the Lagos State Government to confirm the autopsy’s authenticity because of the public’s doubts and conflicting reports.

Recalled that a US-based lab had refuted the claim by the Lagos State Government that the toxicology test was conducted at its facility.

The revelation was in response to inquiries made by our correspondent, who embarked on a fact-finding mission to ascertain the musician’s cause of death.

The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, while responding to inquiries via a live telephone call with Ahmad Isah, the anchor of an Abuja-based online programme, Brekete Family, sometime in February 2024, had said the toxicology test was being conducted at the NMS Labs in Pennsylvania, USA.

However, a pathologist, while testifying before the Coroner’s Court on May 15, revealed that an autopsy couldn’t determine Mohbad’s cause of death due to the decomposition of his body.

While citing the report, Shittu stated that the silence that followed from the government made a review of the toxicology test a necessity.

Shittu, who claimed there were discrepancies regarding the involvement of NMS Labs alleged that the letterhead and address of the facility appeared on the toxicology report despite conflicting statements from the laboratory regarding their actual role in the testing process.

He said, “We, the legal representatives of the Aloba Family, express our projfound dissatisfaction and disappointment with the recent announcement regarding the toxicology test results of the late Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba, which have been declared ‘inconclusive’ by the pathologist.

“This outcome is entirely unacceptable to us and the Aloba Family and raises serious concerns about the integrity and thoroughness of the investigation by the police and the medical team into the untimely death of their beloved son, brother, and friend. The Aloba family and, indeed, the whole world demand to know where the toxicology test was carried out as this has impugned the integrity.

“Following the news report in the Punch Newspaper of 31 May 2024 titled ‘US Lab Denies Conducting Poison Test on Mohbad’ and the silence that followed from the government, a review of the toxicology test must be necessary. The legal team wonders how the letterhead and the address of the National Medical Services Laboratories in Pennsylvania, USA appeared on the toxicology test report if the test was not truly carried out in the USA.

“The legal team is puzzled more given the discrepancies in the further response given by the NMS laboratories ascribing the test to another sister laboratory.

“The conflict of interest that bothers on professional integrity. The public is interested in knowing the relationship between the Lagos State DNA and Forensic Laboratory, NMS in the USA and ITSI Biosciences who allegedly completed the toxicology test on behalf of the Lagos State government.”

While describing Mohbad as a vibrant and promising young individual whose sudden demise left an indelible void, Shittu said the declaration of the autopsy as ‘inconclusive’ failed to provide the clarity needed and undermined the public as well as his family’s faith in the investigative process.

The legal team however demanded a fresh examination of the toxicology samples by an independent and reputable forensic laboratory, ensuring transparency throughout.

The team also called for a thorough review of testing protocols to prevent procedural errors or contamination, just as it urged the involvement of international forensic experts to oversee and validate the re-examination process.

It insisted on complete transparency in sharing all findings and reports related to the toxicology tests, urging expedited efforts to re-examine the samples and deliver definitive answers promptly.

Furthermore, the legal team criticised the Nigeria Police for what they deemed insufficient effort in the investigation while calling for the intervention of the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun.

“The Aloba Family remains steadfast in their pursuit of truth and justice for Ilerioluwa. They deserve clear, definitive answers regarding the cause of his death, and it is the responsibility of the investigative bodies to provide them with such clarity. The current ‘inconclusive’ results only serve to prolong their agony and uncertainty, which is both unfair and unjust.

“Considering the Coroner Inquest, we appeal to the presiding Magistrate to ensure that an independent toxicology report is submitted to the Coroner’s Court before submitting the final report to the authorities.

“Presently, we have an application before the Coroner Court seeking approval to conduct an independent autopsy and toxicology test. We call on the presiding magistrate in the matter to expedite a hearing on the independent autopsy and toxicology application. That is the only way justice can be served in this case,” the statement added.

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