In her Rolling Stone cover story, singer and dancer Normani addressed fellow Fifth Harmony alum Camilla Cabello’s old racist posts, for which Cabello recently apologized after they resurfaced.
Normani’s time with Fifth Harmony was fraught. As she told Rolling Stone, being the only black member of the group made her feel like “the other one in the room.” She was deemed “the dancer” and sidelined in favor of other members of the group, particularly Cabello, until the latter’s departure in late 2016—after which she emerged as the group’s new ringleader, Rolling Stone notes.
Last winter, a Twitter user resurfaced old Tumblr posts of Cabello’s, in which the singer used racist language and slurs. (The posts had circulated before, but this time was the first they were apparently authenticated.) Cabello apologized in December, calling her younger self “uneducated and ignorant.”
Speaking with Rolling Stone, Normani initially said she was still processing it all and needed more time. She later responded to a question about the posts by email, writing, “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,” she continued, “but I am a black woman, who is a part of an entire generation that has a similar story.”
“I face senseless attacks daily, as does the rest of my community,” Normani wrote. “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,” she added. “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 and Cabello’s relationship is complex. Racist trolls targeted Normani with death threats and doctored images of her being lynched after she called Cabello “quirky”—which they perceived as an insult. Cabello defended Normani on Twitter in vague terms, Rolling Stone reports, but the singer’s father told the magazine she’s still “scarred” from it. Normani herself seemed to allude to that dark episode in her statement about Cabello’s posts, writing, “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,” Normani’s written message concluded. “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.”