Blackfishing, Cultural Appropriation and the Jesy Nelson Situation

Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus… and now Jesy Nelson. A growing list of female pop artists who have used black culture as aesthetics for a song or an album cycle. The former on the list eventually discarded those same aesthetics when it no longer served them. But what do Blackfishing and cultural appropriation have to do with Jesy Nelson?

This phenomenon is part of a larger cultural trend of Blackfishing. And although the term was coined in 2018, cultural appropriation and black face have been happening for centuries. 

This week we’re digging in to understand what blackfishing is, how it shows up in music, and exactly what went down with Jesy Nelson’s first solo song and music video after leaving Little Mix.

Other episode of Name 3 Songs you might enjoy: How African American Women Pioneered Rock Music and Challenging Masculinity: A History of Gender Expression in Music

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Want to talk more? Find us: @name3songs | @sara_feigin | @jenna_million

Sources for Blackfishing, Cultural Appropriation and the Jesy Nelson Situation

What is blackfishing? (The Week, Oct 2021)

Rethinking Appropriation and Wokeness in Pop Music (Pitchfork, Rawiya Kameier, 2020)

Blackfishing: ‘Black is cool, unless you’re actually black’ (The Guardian, Priya Elan, 2020)

While white influencers ‘blackfish’ to build buzz, Black creatives say co-opting their culture is costly (Insider, Dana Givens, Oct 2021)

Is Blackfishing a Sinister Millennial Form of Blackface? (MediaDiversity Institute, Sofia Ferrira Santos, 2019)

Blackfishing on Instagram: Influencing and the Commodification of Black Urban Aesthetics (Sage Journals, Wesley E. Stevens, Aug 2021)

Jesy Nelson’s blackfishing controversy was preventable. Both she and her team are responsible (iNews, Nicholas-Tyrell Scott, Oct 2021)

On Jesy Nelson, “Blackfishing,” and Discourse Deja Vu (Teen Vogue, Natasha Mulenga, October 2021)

Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock’s alleged DMs about Jesy Nelson’s ‘blackfishing’ scandal leaked by influencer (Metro, Emma Kelly, Oct 2021)

Everything said in that explosive Jesy Nelson and Nicki Minaj Instagram live (Metro, Emma Kelly, Oct 2021)

Nicki Minaj Perfectly Articulates Her Problem with Miley Cyrus and Cultural Appropriation (Teen Vogue, Ella Ceron, Oct 2015)

Jesy Nelson will dispose of her Black costume when it no longer serves her (The Guardian, Mikki Kendall, Oct 2021)

Nicki Minaj Confronts Miley Cyrus Onstage During the 2015 MTV VMAs and Calls Her a Bitch (E Online, Francesca Bacardi, 2015)

We Need to Talk About Billie Eilish (VoxATL, Zariah Taylor, February 2020)

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