What is Black Fishing and Why Is It Problematic for Black Women?

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Previous Small Mix bandmate Jesse Nelson‘s new song ‘Boyz’ was circulating this week, but probably not for the right reasons. Since releasing the video for the track—her first solo single since leaving the girl group—30-year-old Nelson has been accused of being a Catfish.

The term may be relatively new to some, but as a week’s discussion on social media has shown, it’s now at the center of popular culture discourse – and not just what it means, but whether the word itself is even true. to use.

Invented by Canadian journalist Wanna Thompson, Blackfishing is a white woman trying to imitate the appearance of a Black or mulatto woman. She can do this by adopting an extreme fake tan, lip plumping, curly hair, or even a BBL (Brazilian butt lift). But being a Catfish is more than just looks.

It implies a kind of cultural appropriation, especially where there is a chance of financial gain. The way you speak and the music you make can give the impression that a white woman is trying to be Black.

In ‘Boyz’ Nelson samples the popular hip hop song ‘Bad Boy 4 Life’ by P-Diddy. The video is also heavily influenced by black culture, from the outfits she wears to the choreography. This borrowing of black culture sounds suspicious – while Little Mix makes RnB-inspired songs, they’re a pop band.

Of course, Nelson isn’t the only musician criticized for engaging in Black music at will – contrasts have been drawn with the likes of Amy, while others like Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande have been accused of appropriating Black music. Winehouse and Adele, who from the very beginning more openly and readily acknowledged the influence on their work.

After watching Nelson’s new video this week, writer Natasha Mulenga said: writes for Teen VogueHe wondered what was bothering him.

“Was it white men in poorly made cornfields? Was it the concept – the mostly white neighborhood of “Perfectville” attacked by people dressed as if they were having a B2K meeting with a white woman from Dagenham, Essex?” “Or was the same white woman I saw in 2011 winning the X-Factor as a quarter of Little Mix’s, the same skin color as her now featured artist Nicki Minaj?”

As Mulenga reflects: “It’s not just tanning.” And when Minaj joins Nelson for an Instagram Live to promote her tracks, things just got more complicated.

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