Fifth Harmony’s Normani speaks on the struggles of being a ‘chocolate girl’

Normani Kordei speaks on colourism
Normani Kordei speaks on colourism
Getty Images

The 22-year-old singer is ready to represent young black women as a solo artist and a dark-skinned woman in an industry lacking diversity.

She has been nominated for best solo breakout at the iHeart Music Awards and her single with Sam Smith, Dancing With a Stranger, is already this week's highest new entry on iTunes. 

Normani sat down with Billboard to discuss her solo career and her time with the Fifth Harmony, where she was the only black woman. 

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She detailed her struggles with colourism and racism, which she told Billboard affected her self-confidence and made her feel alone. 

In the interview she recalls a time when she would cry in studio sessions because she was the only one restricted to background vocals on the song No way, while the other girls had solos.

Despite having group members who tried to support her, she explains that she felt invisible and started questioning her talent. 

“You think, ’why am I the last followed in the group?’ Even if you don’t recognise that you are paying close attention to it, it takes a toll on your confidence. You worry 'is it me'? Is it because I’m black? Or am I just not talented?”

Despite the fact that she worked as hard as all the band members, she explains that she always felt like she needed to constantly prove herself.

Referring to being someone young people look up to, she tells Billboard that she feels a sense of responsibility. 

There's a responsibility I have as a black woman - one of the very few to have the power to kill it.
Normani Kordei, Billboard

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Speaking on the lack of representation of black dark-skinned women in mainstream music, “there’s not many of us. Especially when it comes to darker skinned or 'chocolate girls'. Like, being African American is one thing, but girls with my complexion, it's unheard of. It's me and SZA. Who else?,” she says. 

Normani’s diary about suffering from colourism goes back to two years ago when she got emotional during an episode of Dancing with the Stars while she spoke about being cyber bullied.   

“I get bullied terribly on social media. I shouldn’t want to change the colour of my skin or texture of my hair or the fact that I’m a woman. At the end of the day I have to be me,” she said on Dancing with the Stars.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, the star was asked about what she has learned about loving herself. Her response delved yet into the shade of her skin and trying to make it in an industry that won’t embrace diversity.

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READ MORE: "They never knew what to do with my hair"

“Something that has been a big obstacle for me is that I’m African-American, and in the group I’m the one who stands out because I’m darker complected. I find it to be beautiful now and I have security with myself,” she commented.

Speaking about her future plans, the starlet sees herself performing at the Grammy’s, travelling with her family and meeting her fans across the world. 

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