normani

photo credit: YouTube screen shot

Twin YouTubers Called out for Portrayal of Normani

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Sep. 5 2019, Published 7:11 p.m. ET

Popular twin YouTubers Niki and Gabi DeMartino are under fire for a racist depiction of “Motivation” singer Normani. In a video they titled, “Going to College Dressed as Celebrities Challenge,” the two vloggers brought along friends as they all dressed as celebrities and interfered with real life college students. What sounds like an extremely dumb idea only gets worse when we find out Normani, the only Black celebrity impersonated in the video, is played by a Black male doing some questionable stereotypical actions

Firstly, women of color are extremely upset and offended by this video as often times they are referred to as “manly” or “masculine.” Secondly, the video features “Normani” fighting with ex-Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello. This is where the main problem lies, as people feel this only pushes the false stereotype that Black women are “angry” and “bitter.” 

After people were showing their rightful resentment toward the video, Gabi DeMartino took to Twitter to clear things up. She wrote, “We don’t do castings for our videos. Dennis is our friend & is a huge Normani fan. There should be no label to who can or can’t do things based on their gender. I apologize if we have offended anyone by asking our friend to take part in this video.” 

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Clearly the apology was a little insincere and you could tell that Gabi is unable to grasp the severity of the issue. She continued to say the decisions made were “not that deep” and that she is “v sorry for that stereotype I wasn’t aware of” after one Twitter user wrote back to her original apology saying, “it IS that deep. It’s a racist trope that devalues black women. Me caring about how women like me are portrayed doesn’t make me anti lgbt+ because if that was the case then all yall should’ve been a mix. Not just the black woman played by a man.” 

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Another Twitter user explained the issue, sayingyou cannot blame anyone for misconstruing your intentions.” Gabi has since deleted all of her Tweets regarding the video and took a quick break from Twitter. Luckily, the other twin Niki came out with a more formal and appropriate apology admitting they were wrong and insensitive. “My followers defending Gabi and I, thank you. But also, the angered followers do have a point. Given time to cool off and let this sink in, I realize we don’t know what they go thru,” she wrote. “People have a right to an opinion and to be angry/feel hurt. I feel ignorant & I’m sorry.” 

The friend in question who portrayed Normani also apologized via Twitter, writing “I’d like to apologize to any and all black women I may have offended in niki&gabi’s video. The intentions of my acting was not to portray Normani as a ‘bitter black woman.’ The video was made to be humorous & over exaggerate each artist.” He continued, “We ended up playing to the unwritten feud between the two girls & I went with over the top sassy. This may have been a mistake on my part but it really wasn’t meant in any other way. As a POC I really didn’t think ab how black women would be offended so to black women I will apologize.”

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