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Music

Normani speaks out on Camila Cabello’s ‘devastating’ social media behavior

KIIS-FM’s Jingle Ball 2013
Normani performs with Fifth Harmony at Staples Center in 2013.
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

“Motivation” hitmaker and former Fifth Harmony member Normani is ready to talk about controversy surrounding her ex-bandmate Camila Cabello, who’s accused of making racist social media posts that recently resurfaced online.

“I want to be very clear about what I’m going to say on this uncomfortable subject and figured it would be best to write out my thoughts to avoid being misconstrued, as I have been in the past,” the singer said in an emailed statement to Rolling Stone for a cover story that published Friday. “I struggled with talking about this because I didn’t want it to be a part of my narrative, but I am a black woman, who is a part of an entire generation that has a similar story.”

Though reluctant to address her relationship with Cabello in an initial interview, for fear of being misunderstood, Normani later shared her feelings on the “Señorita” artist’s “embarrassingly ignorant” remarks, as well as her general experience dealing with racist trolls who continue to plague her career.

Fifth Harmony
Fifth Harmony’s original lineup included, from left: Dinah Jane, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Normani Kordei, Lauren Jauregui and Camila Cabello.
(Sasha Samsonova)
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She also expressed her disappointment at Cabello’s delayed response to those participating in racist attacks against her — many of whom have been fans of Cabello.

“It would be dishonest if I said that this particular scenario didn’t hurt me. It was devastating that this came from a place that was supposed to be a safe haven and a sisterhood, because I knew that if the tables were turned I would defend each of them in a single heartbeat,” Normani wrote.

“It took days for her to acknowledge what I was dealing with online and then years for her to take responsibility for the offensive tweets that recently resurfaced. Whether or not it was her intention, this made me feel like I was second to the relationship that she had with her fans,” she added.

Late last year, Cabello apologized after accusations of prior racist activity picked up viral steam on Twitter. Republished posts from a since-deleted Tumblr account, widely believed to belong to the pop star, featured racist jokes, memes and repeated use of the N-word.

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“The truth is I was embarrassingly ignorant and unaware,” Cabello said in December in a statement. “I use my platform to speak about injustice and inequality and I’ll continue doing that. I can’t say enough how deeply sorry and ashamed I feel, and I apologize again from the bottom of my heart.”

In her Rolling Stone cover story, Normani said the other members of Fifth Harmony weren’t always the best support group because they didn’t “know how to be there for me the way that I needed it because it wasn’t their own experience, and because when they look at me they don’t see me.”

“I face senseless attacks daily, as does the rest of my community. This represents a day in the life for us,” she said. “I have been tolerating discrimination far before I could even comprehend what exactly was happening. Direct and subliminal hatred has been geared towards me for many years solely because of the color of my skin.”

Former Fifth Harmony member Normani pays tribute to “106 & Park,” Beyoncé and the golden age of hip-hop/R&B in new single and video, ‘Motivation.’

The interview also touched on Normani’s highly anticipated debut solo album as well as her ambitions for the future. And she isn’t letting past trauma get in the way of her success.

“I don’t want to say that this situation leaves me hopeless because I believe that everyone deserves the opportunity for personal growth,” she said. “I really hope that an important lesson was learned in this. I hope there is genuine understanding about why this was absolutely unacceptable. I have spoken what is in my heart and pray this is transparent enough that I never have to speak on it again.”


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