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Letters—‘Blackfishing’ debate exposes racism in the music industry

This article is over 2 years, 7 months old
Issue 2777
Little Mix, Jesy Nelsons (second from the left)  former band
Little Mix, Jesy Nelson’s (second from the left) former band

This week social media was set ablaze after pop artist Jesy Nelson released her new solo track Bad Boys featuring Nicki Minaj.

Jesy Nelson has found herself at the centre of controversy as she is being called out for blackfishing.

Blackfishing is a relatively new term coined by an American journalist.

It refers to someone using tools such as makeup, tan, plastic surgery, or hair extensions to present as another race or ethically ambiguous.

I feel Jesy is rightly being made accountable for this behaviour.


But she is by no means the first pop artist or influencer to do this.

The likes of the Kardashian family, Rita Ora, and Ariana Grande have all been called out before for tan that was too dark or their use of Afro wigs and braided hair.

On the surface, it’s easy to dismiss this controversy as just another Twitter outrage.

But when we look deeper at this complex discussion around blackfishing, it highlights the issue of institutionalised racism within the music industry.

It has allowed for a much-needed conversation about how often black culture is used for profit.

This happens even as the issues facing the black community are ignored.

Black Lives in Music recently conducted a study that found that 63 percent of black music artists have experienced some form of racism.

It is not surprising when for decades black artists, especially black women have highlighted how hard it is to get opportunities within the entertainment realm.

People are tired of being penalised for the darkness of their skin and the texture of their hair, while their white counterparts rise to success and popularity after donning similar styles.

Whatever your thoughts about this controversy may be, whether you think it modern-day blackface or simply just some tan, it shows racism is present in almost every facet of modern-day life.

We must continue to build the anti-racist movement far and wide.

Elizabeth Adofo-Moroney


BA hasn’t gone ‘woke’

You have to feel sorry for the British media. There is so much going on—fuel crisis, climate crisis, Priti Patel wanting to legalise letting migrants drown.

It must be so frustrating that they can’t report on all that because they must alert the nation to the horror of British Airways telling its flight crews to drop “ladies and gentlemen” on flights.

Instead crew must now use more gender-neutral language to replace it.

This is, apparently, another example of a treasured British institution caving into the demands of the “woke” left. LGBT+ rights campaigners have been busy demanding Gender Recognition Act reform, better trans healthcare and a conversion therapy ban.

They will probably be surprised to learn that they’d actually been campaigning for yet another deeply tedious gesture from a corporation hoping to drum up positive press.

Not that BA’s change is in and of itself bad. Language being more inclusive of non-binary people is good, obviously.

But no amount of inclusive language is going to change the fact that they laid off 10,000 people last year at the height of the pandemic.

And after years of Pride parades dominated by corporate floats and overpriced alcohol, many LGBT+ people are thoroughly fed up with pinkwashing.

Bethan Turner

Tower Hamlets

We must condemn repressive vaccine law

There has been an article in the paper about opposing vaccine passports (Socialist Worker 28 September).

But I don’t think the danger of this is taken up seriously enough.

Looking at places such as Lithuania and also parts of Australia, these laws are resulting in people being prevented from going to work and accessing services.

Is this not a dangerous step towards a totalitarian state, and isn’t this time for socialists to say this must not stand? Of course the safety of workers and others should be protected.

But this must be done through better education and making sure everyone understands the precautions that are implemented.

It should be about letting people make informed choices.

It should not be done by coercion enforced by capitalist and neoliberal governments that are always looking to increase their control.

Colin Crane


Northern Ireland still denies abortion

Despite the legalisation of abortion in 2019, women and girls in Northern Ireland are still having to travel to England to access abortion services.

Shockingly this means that some women are still being forced to continue with unwanted pregnancies.

Many will still be forced to take unregulated abortion pills and seek dangerous abortions.

A high court ruled last week that Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis had “failed to comply with his duties” and implement abortion services.

However, the judge declined to issue an order compelling Lewis to set out a timetable for the provision of these vital services.

This leaves even more women in a desperate situation with no end in sight.

It’s clear the battle isn’t over and we cant rely on courts or politicians to defend our rights.

The legalisation of abortion was the result of relentless grassroots organisation and campaigning over several decades.

We need to support activists to continue to fight the British state “tooth and nail” until all women have guaranteed free, safe and legal access to abortion.

Christine Lewis


Self-ish service checkouts?

Your article on Amazon and cashless trading (Socialist Worker, 13 October) is good but misses some points.

Firstly, automated checkouts are already common, both here in Poland and in the UK.

We boycott them, and so do all our friends. They steal our data and never work correctly—plus they reduce staff.

However, there is always an attendant on hand so supermarkets are never people-less.

Jacka Soplicy


Tories let elderly die

We as carers already knew very quickly that the government didn’t care over Covid-19. We knew the Tories weren’t bothered about the lives of older people.

They were probably rubbing their hands together happily in the knowledge they wouldn’t have to pay more pensions out to them.

Local elections are soon, and I for one will vote these parasites out to protect what’s left of our society.

Kadafi Adam


Coldplay greenwash charts

Coldplay is doing the first-ever carbon neutral gig in conjunction with BMW!

The fans’ dancing will be converted to energy and the gig will be powered by carbon neutral equipment.

However, the band also confirmed that they will be flying between gigs in a private jet.

Michael Holland

South London

Activist gives Shell hell

I stand with the activist who took to the stage at an event where the CEO of Shell was speaking.

She truly spoke truth to power and revealed the bosses’ unrelenting support for the fossil fuel industry at the expense of the planet.

Annie Westwood


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