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

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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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Grammys add new categories, including songwriter of the year

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Grammys add new categories, including songwriter of the year

The Grammys are adding a special song for social change award and five new categories including songwriter of the year, giving the Recording Academy an avenue to honor music’s best composer.

The academy announced Thursday that the new non-classical songwriter category will recognize one individual who was the “most prolific” non-performing and non-producing songwriter for a body of new work during an eligibility year. The category is taking a different approach than song of the year, which awards the songwriter or songwriters who wrote the lyrics or melodies to one song.

“This new category is truly for an expert person at the songwriting craft,” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr told The Associated Press. Songwriters must have written a minimum of five songs in which they are credited “solely” as a songwriter or co-writer.

“Somebody who writes their own music and records it would not be eligible,” he said. “They would have to be doing songs for others. We want to highlight the craft of writing songs professionally for artists.”

“Songwriters are at the heart of our business and industry,” he said. “Nothing happens without songwriters. For us, this was a no brainer. It’s in alignment with all the changes. We thought, ‘How can we do more? Showcase more people and be more inclusive to different genres?’”

The new category is another huge step for songwriters. Last year, a rule update allowed that any songwriter, producer, engineer or featured artist on an album nominated for album of the year could ultimately earn a nomination.

The four other categories include best spoken word poetry album, alternative music performance, Americana music performance and score soundtrack for video games and other interactive media.

The academy created a special merit award that determines best song for social change. The award will be based on lyrical content that addresses a timely social issue and promotes “understanding, peacebuilding and empathy.”

“It’s always the right time to recognize music that’s changing the world,” he said. “I think it deserves a special recognition. These songs are important and impactful. We want to make sure we’re honoring and celebrating that artform. This is a great way to do that.”

Mason said it was yearlong process of accepting proposals to make changes, additions and updates from music creators and professionals that make up the membership body.

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Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee kicks off with pomp

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Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee kicks off with pomp

Four days of celebrations honoring Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne got underway Thursday with a display of British military traditions stretching from the days of horse and cannon to the jet age.

Formal celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee began with Trooping the Color, an annual military review that has marked the sovereign’s official birthday since 1760. The queen is expected to join the working members of her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the end of the event, when 70 aircraft are set to roar overhead.

The jubilee is being commemorated with a four-day holiday weekend. The celebration of Elizabeth’s reign includes a service of thanksgiving Friday at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, a concert at Buckingham Palace on Saturday and a pageant staged by thousands of performers drawn from schools and community groups around the country on Sunday afternoon.

Throughout the weekend, neighborhood organizations and individuals are expected to hold thousands of street parties around the country, repeating a tradition that began with the queen’s coronation in 1953.

The 96-year-old queen is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the first to reach the milestone of seven decades on the throne. The jubilee is giving many people — even those often indifferent to the monarchy — a chance to reflect on the state of the nation and the huge changes that have taken place during her reign.

Former Prime Minister John Major — one of the 14 prime ministers of the queen’s reign — said the monarch’s stoic presence had helped steer the country over the decades,

“The queen has represented our better selves for over 70 years,” he told the BBC.

In a written jubilee message, the queen thanked people in Britain and across the Commonwealth involved in organizing the celebrations. For many, the occasion is the first opportunity for a big bash since the start of the coronavirus pandemic more than two years ago.

“I know that many happy memories will be created at these festive occasions,” Elizabeth said.

“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last 70 years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm,” she said.

Congratulations arrived from world leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron called Elizabeth “the golden thread that binds our two countries” and one of “very few constants” on the international stage.

“You are our friend, such a close ally, our example of service to others,” Macron told the queen in an English-language video message.

The name of the long weekend’s first event, Trooping the Color, refers to a regimental flag, or “color,” that is trooped through the ranks. Britain’s annual tradition for the queen’s birthday is a ceremonial reenactment of the way battle flags were once shown to soldiers to make sure they would recognize a crucial rallying point if they became disoriented in combat.

The troops taking part come from the army’s Household Division, composed of the seven regiments that perform ceremonial duties for the queen. Their members are fully trained soldiers and often deployed overseas when not on ceremonial duty.

Each year a different unit has the honor of trooping its color. The 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards will have the spotlight during the Platinum Jubilee.

Thousands of people, some of whom camped overnight, lined the parade route — many of them sporting Union Jack flags, party hats or plastic tiaras.

Carly Martin, who caught a late-night bus from south London with her daughter, said she had come “to make memories.”

“You’re never going to see this again in your lifetime,” she said. “At least not in mine, maybe not in my daughter’s. … Seventy years — it is all I have ever known.”

Several protesters were arrested after getting past barriers and onto the parade route. The group Animal Rebellion claimed responsibility, saying the protesters were “demanding that royal land is reclaimed.”

Cheers and the clop of hooves rang out as horse-drawn carriages carried members of the royal family, including Prince William’s wife, Kate, and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade, a ceremonial parade ground about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away.

The queen is expected to appear twice on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, but Prince Charles is playing play a key role during the event. Mounted on horseback, he will take the salute from ranks of scarlet-clad Guards on his mother’s behalf, along with his sister, Princess Anne, and his son Prince William.

Elizabeth has had trouble getting around of late, and her courtiers have been careful to keep make things as simple for her as possible.

Senior royals including Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla, traveled in carriages to watch the ceremony from a building overlooking the parade ground.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will join other royals to watch the spectacle. Harry and Meghan have traveled from their home in California to take part in the celebrations.

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Buhari congratulates Bishop Okpaleke on appointment as Pope’s Cardinal

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Buhari congratulates Bishop Okpaleke on appointment as Pope’s Cardinal

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday expressed happiness over the appointment of Bishop Peter Okpaleke of Ekwulobia Diocese, Anambra State, as a Cardinal in the Catholic Church by Pope Francis.

In a statement signed late Wednesday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari commended the Pope for finding a capable Nigerian in the person of Bishop Okpaleke to be one of the two nominees from the African continent.

The statement is titled ‘President Buhari welcomes appointment of Bishop Okpaleke as 4th cardinal from Nigeria.’

According to Shehu, President Buhari also “congratulated the Nigerian Christian Community on this choice, describing the Cardinal-designate as ably qualified, and that having him in that position will benefit the country.”

The statement partly read, “The President also commended the commitment of the Catholic Church to the unity, peace, and progress of the Nigerian state. He also highlighted the effort of the Church in combating the COVID-19 pandemic as well as its support and commitment in favour of the poor and most vulnerable members of the society.”

Bishop Okpaleke becomes the fourth Cardinal from Nigeria. Others before him are Francis Arinze, Anthony Okogie and John Onaiyekan. He is among the 21 new Cardinals Pope Francis announced on May 29.

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