Last December, Camila Cabello issued a public apology for past "uneducated" and "ignorant" racist comments that had resurfaced online. But her former Fifth Harmony bandmate Normani is still trying to understand the slurs and memes that Cabello shared to her personal Tumblr account at roughly 14 years old.
Normani is one of three cover stars in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, alongside SZA and Megan Thee Stallion. In the accompanying piece, which dives deep into her childhood, 5H years, and forging a bold path ahead as a solo performer, she directly addresses the experience in a statement.
"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," she said after opting to discuss Cabello's past posts via email, a few weeks after the interview, rather than off the cuff in person. "I struggled with talking about this because I didn't want it to be a part of my narrative, but I am a black woman, who is a part of an entire generation that has a similar story."
The "Motivation" singer continued by explaining that discrimination is something she's dealt with her whole life. "I face senseless attacks daily, as does the rest of my community," she said. "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."
In 2016, Normani took a social-media hiatus after her feed was inundated with racially charged abuse from fans who misinterpreted a comment she'd made about Cabello. And though Cabello publicly asked her fans to "be kind" days later, Normani wishes she would've spoken out sooner. She feels the same way about Cabello's apology for those offensive social media posts, which went unaddressed for many years.
"It would be dishonest if I said that this particular scenario didn't hurt me," Normani continued. "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. 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."
Despite everything that went down, Normani sees it as an "opportunity for personal growth" for Cabello. "I really hope that an important lesson was learned in this," she said. "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 close out her statement, Normani directly addressed people of color who experience the same discrimination: "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."