If you’ve taken up residence in a memorable girl group at any point over the last two decades, you’ll probably agree that a few guidelines govern your success. The simplest version goes a little like this: You deliver who-run-the-world anthems and breakup ballads built for Billboard, and the adulation, applause, and cleverly captioned army of fans will follow. Of course, dodging controversy and the corner of the internet incessantly guessing which one of you will be first to go solo is imperative.
In their relatively young existence as pop music sorors, Fifth Harmony have followed that formula to great success. And as sure as their hit songs have ascended the charts engineered to measure these things, 5H fans have been busy playing that guessing game: Who will be the Beyoncé? Ally Brooke, Normani Kordei, Dinah-Jane Hansen, Lauren Jauregui, or Camila Cabello? But I've been preoccupied with another subject. Maybe it's that we have this complexion in common, but I often wondered what life must be like for the multicultural quintet's lone black member.
On Thursday (July 7), we got a glimpse when Kordei penned a heart-wrenching, introspective note about being a "woman of color" in a moment when those who swear to protect us seem to have either forgotten or given that oath the finger. "I'm infuriated the reality of this world leaves me fearful for my own," she wrote, hours after the brutal killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police were captured in gruesome video footage.
The 20-year-old went on to share that she feared not only for her safety and those of black people in general, but particularly for her own father: "I shouldn't be afraid [that] he may be taken away from me and shot dead because of false perceptions that all black men are dangerous regardless of education or status."
The singer condemned the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, and his failure to speak on these black lives lost. She also addressed gun violence and the need for those who aren't black to be allies in battling the virulent racism that leads to these tragedies. It was a brave and refreshing message from a pop star whose job description likely calls for her to stay in perfect ... harmony.
Normani's nods to black womanhood while matriculated in 5H have been the stuff of girl-power affirmation, not activism. On the single "Bo$$," the group give lyrical kudos to First Lady Michelle Obama and praise to Oprah Winfrey's earning power. Today, with a carefully chosen hashtag to close and without singing a single note, she tossed the girl-group handbook out the window — like a boss.