Maajid Nawaz defends Jesy Nelson in 'blackfishing' row

24 October 2021, 16:29 | Updated: 24 October 2021, 16:51

By Seán Hickey

Former Little Mix member Jesy Nelson should be allowed 'do what she wants' with how she dresses, amid accusations of blackfishing.

Little Mix singer Leigh-Anne Pinnock took aim at her former bandmate Jesy Nelson this week, accusing her of "blackfishing" in her new song with Nicki Minaj.

Maajid Nawaz drew a line between someone showing appreciation for a culture outside of their own, as he saw Jesy Nelson's situation, and someone capitalising on systems designed to serve minorities.

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He reminded listeners of the case of former activist Rachel Dolezal, who deceived people by claiming she was black. "Now you're talking on appropriation levels" he said.

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Maajid defined blackfishing as a scenario "where you're taking something through deception" based on race, and added that the many instances of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's blackface as an aspect of "humiliation" related to blackfishing.

"That's different to what Jesy Nelson did. Jesy Nelson dressed in a certain way – I don't think that's a problem."

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He went on to note that "there are clearly young white girls that adopt a certain look whether it's with braids or hair extensions" and uproar on social media over blackfishing culminated in people asking "why are you trying to look black and profit from it?"

Read more: Jesy Nelson shares mental health post amid Blackfishing controversy over 'Boyz' video

"I think we'd all be a lot poorer if we didn't share", he said, equating adopting the food, language or dress of another culture as an exercise in enriching oneself.

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"There's no reason Eminem shouldn't be allowed to rap and no reason why he shouldn't have a black concert pianist" he argued, fearing that "this argument's extreme is that you get to a point where you say nope, black person should rap, white person should play concert piano – that's a problem."

"Let Jesy Nelson do what she wants."

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