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Jesy Nelson has spoken out against recent accusations of ‘Blackfishing’.
The 30-year-old released her debut single Boyz last week, her first track as a solo singer having left chart-topping girl group Little Mix in 2020.
But shortly after the video was released, some people accused Jesy of ‘Blackfishing’ – where a white person appropriates elements of Black culture to appear Black or racially ambiguous.
But now, the star has responded in an interview in Vulture, who quoted critics who said Jesy sings with a ‘Blaccent’ and is "disingenuously using the aesthetics of Black women and R&B" to popularise herself.
“The whole time I was in Little Mix I never got any of that,” Jesy explained. “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.”
Jesy was also asked about whether she had deleted comments on Instagram that criticised her or accused her of ‘Blackfishing’ – something that she was happy to clarify.
“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,” she told Vulture in an 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 and they were trying to protect me and my mental health.
“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.”
Jesy added that while she loved being part of Little Mix, her new sound is what she has always wanted to sing.
“My passion is R&B and hip-hop from the ’90s and early 2000s. That’s what I grew up on.
“It’s the music I’ve always wanted to make, so it feels quite liberating.”