In case you haven’t been following the Little Mix Extended Universe happenings of late, let me quickly recap: Late last year, Jesy Nelson announced her decision to leave the mega-successful British girl group, citing mental health issues. On Friday, Nelson released her debut solo single, “Boyz” featuring Nicki Minaj, which heavily samples Diddy’s 2001 hit, “Bad Boy for Life.” The music video for the track, which also premiered yesterday, basically rehashes the “Bad Boy for Life” video’s premise whole premise of “urban” (i.e., Black) people crashing a Stepford Wives-esque white suburb, but the conceit doesn’t really work this time, what with Nelson being white and all. Unless it’s like an attempt at a self-aware portrayal of how young white women might approximate Blackness in otherwise all-white spaces for shock value? But I don’t think it is. Sidenote: Everyone go read Lauren Michele Jackson’s White Negroes! It’s a truly excellent anthology of critical essays examining “whiteness thriving at the expense and borrowed ingenuity of Black people.” There’s even a whole chapter about white pop stars doing this very thing in there!
But back to the recap: Nelson’s appearance in the video—heavily spray-tanned to look way darker than her actual skin color, makeup and styling that would appear to make her look way more “racially ambiguous” than she actually is, which is to say not at all—has led to online accusations of Blackfishing. (Not the first time this has happened, as journalist Douglas Greenwood noted in a recent profile of the singer for Vulture.) And now, it looks like Nelson’s former Little Mix bandmates—Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall, and Perrie Edwards—have all unfollowed her on Instagram. Even Perrie’s dog, Hatchi, appears to have unfollowed Jesy! Though I actually have no idea whether Hatchi followed her in the first place... All of this Instagram unfollowing business is really beside the point, though, in a discussion of race and racism in pop music—subject matter that Pinnock tackled in Leigh-Anne: Race, Pop, and Power, her BBC One documentary released earlier this year. If you missed it up till now, check it out below! I highly recommend it.