Normani addresses Camila Cabello’s racist history: ‘It was devastating’

Gwyneth Paltrow at the Grand opening of the JVP International Cyber Center

When Camila Cabello left Fifth Harmony, it definitely felt like she was going to be the stand-out, the one destined to have a bigger solo career. But then Normani started doing her thing and now I really feel like she’s the one who will have the longer career and the bigger career. Normani is part of a trio of Rolling Stone covers and cover stories, alongside Megan Thee Stallion and SZA. Most of Normani’s cover profile is her history and background, which is surprisingly complicated for a 23-year-old. She was an early performer, hustling from a young age, when she got put together with the Fifth Harmony girls. Camila was the one eyed for a solo career, but Normani caught the eye of a lot of producers and divas (Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna). Normani’s new album comes out soon, thus the cover story.

But really, I wanted to cover this because of Normani’s response to questions about Camila. As you remember, Camila confirmed last year what had long been rumored online and on social media: she spent a chunk of her teenage years as a racist sh-tposter, hiding behind various social media accounts. Camila apologized in December when someone finally produced the receipts, but Camila’s apology was still rather vague. Normani is mixed up in this because when Fifth Harmony was still a thing, Camila-stans were harassing Normani and being gigantic racists towards her. So how does Normani feel about all of that now, and what does she have to say about Camila? From Rolling Stone:

In Fifth Harmony, the singing group that also gave the world Camila Cabello, she was the underdog. As the only black member, she often felt like “the other one in the room.” She was targeted by racist bullies online after a subset of Harmonizers believed Normani had slighted Cabello by calling her “quirky.” Trolls posted Photoshopped images of her being lynched; others sent death threats. “She’s still scarred from that,” her dad says… For Normani, there was not much room for mental recovery on the road, especially while dealing with racist trolls. During the ordeal, Cabello came to her defense in a series of vaguely worded tweets, but Fifth Harmony were ill-equipped to handle the situation. Normani describes it as “them not knowing 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.”

Recently, Cabello came under fire when it was verified that she had shared and written racist slurs and memes on a personal Tumblr she maintained around the age of 14. Since 5H Cabello and Normani have interacted at award shows, where their paths have repeatedly crossed, but when I talk with her, Normani is still wrapping her head around those Tumblr posts. As a black woman with young black fans, she wants to be “concise” with how she addresses it. “I just want to make sure that anything I say is exactly what I mean,” she offers. “I’ll get back to you on that.”

And she does get back to me on – in writing, after deliberating for a couple weeks: “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. 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,” she begins, via e-mail.

“I face senseless attacks daily, as does the rest of my community. This represents a day in the life for us. 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. 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. 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.”

“I don’t want to say that this situation leaves me hopeless because I believe that everyone deserves the opportunity for personal growth. 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. To my brown men and women, we are like no other. Our power lies within our culture. We are descendants of an endless line of strong and resilient kings and queens. We have been and will continue to win in all that we do simply because of who we are. We deserve to be celebrated, I deserve to be celebrated and I’m just getting started.”

[From Rolling Stone]

What a well-thought-out statement. It was more than Camila was worth, but the point of it – as Normani says – is that she has young fans and she wants to be a role model to them in how she handles these things. Camila treated Normani like sh-t privately and publicly, and shock of all shocks, it turns out that Camila had a long history of being racist AF when she was a teenager. It’s clear Normani is still processing everything and maybe even going over their past interactions and trying to figure out what was really happening. Anyway, I feel for Normani. But she’s amazing, and I hope she outsells. I hope she’s the next Beyonce/Rihanna/Britney pop star.

Cover courtesy of Rolling Stone.

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17 Responses to “Normani addresses Camila Cabello’s racist history: ‘It was devastating’”

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  1. Dee says:

    I’m so glad that Normani has finally addressed that racist asshole and her dumb fans. Who btw are still being racist and awful towards Normani.
    They equate the racism that Normani endured to the “bullying” camila went through when she was in the band. There’s a reason why Lauren J and Normani didn’t like her..she was a f***** racist!
    Anyway I hope Normani will have longevity and I will never understand how camila’s extreme mediocrity is celebrated.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      This. It’s important that they included the fact that she was scarred by it and that recovering from it hasn’t been easy for her. A lot of times sharing that kind of vulnerability is seen as a sign of weakness, and for women of color especially in some areas, having the most desensitized or unbothered reaction is seen as the only strong reaction. There are likely people who feel that the things Normani has in life should or would automatically desensitize her to abuse, and other people to her abuse as well. It’s good for people to learn that that’s not the case.

  2. Andrew’s Nemesis says:

    Dear God, it sounds as though Normani has been through living hell: how awful for her to experience such truly shocking racism and hatred. That Camilla chick sounds like a real piece of work. I hope these revelations continue to bite her on the arse. I don’t buy the argument that past is past, that people change: she’d have had to have a personality transplant to overcome such inherent hatred.
    On a shallow note, Normani really is shockingly beautiful

  3. T says:

    I never understood how Camila’s career took off before Normani’s because Normani is so supremely talented. I can’t imagine the pain she experienced dealing with the racism not only from strangers but within 5H itself. I hope and expect to see big things from her!

  4. Lara K says:

    Normani always had the best voice of the 5H ladies. I hope she gets the stellar solo career she deserves.

    As for the racism – so not surprised. I mean, Camila learned from her bestie Tay-tay how to mobilize her fan army while remaining in the “innocent” background. Glad her past came out, but it seems to have had little impact on her career. privilege is real.

  5. Guest with Cat says:

    I’ve only seen Tumblr in passing when doing web searches. Judging from the racist crap that apparently finds a home there, it sound like a toxic waste dump. This young woman is absolutely gorgeous and talented and it’s her time to shine and leave the landfill in her rearview mirror. Congrats on her RS cover. She looks amazing.

  6. GuestWho says:

    I have no idea who this young woman is (cause I’m old), but I love her. So gracious and thoughtful (and thought provoking). I hope she endures and thrives because the world needs more woman like her.

  7. lucy2 says:

    I love that she knew the importance of her words, and took the time to really address it all the way she wanted. I’m sorry that she has faced such awful things, and I wish her continued success.

  8. Vanessa says:

    Camilla fan base is super racist and she knows that she doesn’t care she is not all about love like her fans and she claim . Normani is still getting attack to this day by Camilla toxic fan base what Normani says was so sad to to heard what she went and is still going through . Some people are saying behind the scene that epic records are the ones pushing Camilla more and more that she the only former members of fifth harmony sign to them solo . The other girls are all sign solo to other labels so that’s why their having so much issues with their music I believe that because honestly Camilla can’t sing can’t dance and top of that she a know racists and yet she still has a career and fan base .

  9. Annabel says:

    Camila and her fans seem awful, but this gave me pause:

    “To my brown men and women, we are like no other. Our power lies within our culture. We are descendants of an endless line of strong and resilient kings and queens. We have been and will continue to win in all that we do simply because of who we are.”

    We should all be proud of who we are, but I’m not sure that pushing narratives of racial exceptionalism is a great idea, no matter who’s saying it?

    • AmunetMaat says:

      I feel as if Black and Brown people need to hear it because that is not the average message received consciously or subconsciously by the majority. There is a lot of rejection and the old Baldwin quote: To Be Black in America is to be in a constant state of rage, still rings important. Normani was called the N-word by her co-worker. I still have students saying racist jokes about black people in my classroom where I can hear (I’m a black woman). We live in a culture that does not respect our bodies or our minds and as a result we need the message that we are exceptional and that we have a great power, we need to be reminded that we are kings and queens because not only is it true but it is just not said enough.

    • Mish says:

      To Annabel.

      Sorry, but I’m sick of the kind of BS that you’re posting. Normani doesn’t mention “race,” YOU did. She mentioned “culture.” Her own, and what she knows to be true of a people born into genocide, slavery, and nevee ending discrimination, but who nevertheless survived and thrived. A people that throughout their history in the West, were hated and beset upon. I can’t say it any better than @AmunetMaat.

      To be “Black,” is not the same as “white,” neither are those terms opposite sides of the same coin. The sooner you realize that and drop the FOS ‘reverse racism’ Fox narrative and talking point, the better off we’ll be.

      Is your “race,” (which doesn’t exist btw) your “culture?” Explain “white,” culture?

      When I was a kid and Madonna put on her “Italians do it better” tee in her Papa Don’t Preach video, or if people extol Irish kinfolk on St Paddy’s day, I think it’s cool. Just like I love Oktoberfest, Little Italy, or Greektown. In fact there are Italian American, Polish American ans many other associations around this country.

      Black people have no other ethnic identifiers. If you’re part of the transatlantic slave trade, your language, your god, your family name, your tradition, your culture is unknown. It is lost. And a 21st century dna test won’t bring it back.

      So don’t get it twisted. When we extol Black Girls Coding, or the Essence Awards, NAACP awards, or Black anything– it is is reclaiming our ethnicity and culture the one stolen and beaten out of us– and it really is no different than all the times you NEVER have a problem with your racially classified ‘white’ pals, celebrating their ethnic traditions and culture. As they should, if they want!

      I love spinach pie, lasagna, hummus, bratwurst and potato pancakes almost as much as I like collard greens and ribs.

      It’s not racial exceptionalism to say. It is, when you try to claim you get to celebrate your grandma’s Italian ‘gravy,’ but when I celebrate my grandma’s smothered porkchops it’s “racial exceptionalism.” Plz gtfoh

  10. Nev says:

    go on Normani!
    camila is trash.

  11. val says:

    @Annabel POC should 100% stress their resiliency and teach the youth of their worth. For generations and generations, we have been told that we are inferior, we have been demonized and called sub-humans. We are still being exploited, and have to work 10 times as hard as any white person to make it. How dare you say that she is pushing narratives of exceptionalism. Come back at me when you spend one day living while black!

  12. Christina says:

    Poor young lady. Being Black in the public eye has to be stressful. I wish her success and peace.