A YouTuber duo apologized for their ‘ignorant’ and ‘stereotypical’ idea of having a man dress up as black female singer Normani in a video
- Niki and Gabi, a YouTuber duo with 8.9 million subscribers, have gotten in trouble with some viewers who said they have pandered to harmful racial stereotypes.
- In their video “ Going to College Dressed as Celebrities Challenge,” they enlisted their older sister Alex and friend Dennis so they could make themselves look like Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, Taylor Swift, and Normani.
- But some viewers said it was problematic to cast a man to play Normani because of the racist stereotype that black women have “masculine” features.
- After some backlash, Gabi defended herself on Twitter, saying their decision wasn’t “that deep.” But after a while to consider what happened, Niki tweeted that they had been “ignorant.”
- “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.”
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Two famous YouTubers have gotten in trouble because they asked their male friend to dress up as Normani in a lookalike challenge.
In Niki and Gabi’s video “ Going to College Dressed as Celebrities Challenge,” the YouTuber pair enlisted their older sister Alex and friend Dennis so they could make themselves look like Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, Taylor Swift, and Normani.
They walked around a college campus in exaggerated outfits, makeup, and hair all the stars are known for. The Swift lookalike was desperately looking for a “London boy,” Cabello was caught making out with an actor who was supposed to be Shawn Mendes, Grande walked around with a Starbucks, and Normani took over a dance class.
Some of the jokes didn’t sit well with the audience
Many called out Niki and Gabi, who have 8.9 million subscribers on their channel, for pandering to harmful racial clichés about black women.
Some said it was problematic to cast a man to play Normani because of the racist stereotype that black women have “masculine” features.
“They made a black man play Normani while all the girls were GIRLS but Normani,” wrote one viewer on Twitter. “They gave Normani the stereotypical black girl characteristics and everything when she has never acted like that. I was disgusted!!!!”
After some backlash, Gabi defended herself on Twitter, saying their decision wasn’t “that deep.”
“It IS that deep,” a viewer responded. “It’s a racist trope that devalues black woman. 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.”
Gabi responded again, saying she was sorry for that stereotype and they weren’t aware of it when they were filming. She also said Dennis was a huge Normani fan and that’s why he really wanted to play her.
“There should be no label to who can or can’t do things based on their gender,” she wrote. “I apologize if we have offended anyone by asking our friend to take part in this video.”
“There is a lot more than just the fact he’s a male,” a viewer hit back. “For example: *darkskin* black women, particularly normani more recently, has been drawn as a masculine bod, and casting a male can almost give out the wrong idea. You cannot blame anyone for misconstruing your intentions.”
Several other people responded, telling the duo to delete the video.
Niki and Gabi apologized for their ‘ignorance’
After taking some time to reflect, Niki tweeted that she and Gabi were “ignorant to the situation” because it “didn’t even cross our minds.”
“Seeing the accusations (that are far from the truth) angered us, making us feel like we heavily had to defend ourselves, because that’s not what we were doing at all,” she said. “Learning curve.”
“As much as I hate accusations & Twitter drama, I feel like it does wake me up to shit I should know about,” she continued. “Again, my job isn’t easy, publicly going through shit isn’t easy, but maybe all this drama can wake some of my followers up too, to other issues they aren’t aware of.”
Niki thanked her followers who were defending her and Gabi, but said those who were angry “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.”
They decided to see the situation as a learning experience
One person responded saying they had never heard the racial stereotype of labeling black women as masculine before, and she appreciated the opportunity to learn.
“I never heard of this and I’ve never ever seen them that way, which is how this mess happened in the first place,” Niki responded. “No one should ever feel that way and I don’t feel the best about making a video somehow triggering that.”
Dennis also tweeted out an apology to “any and all black women I may have offended” in the video. Another issue people took up with the characterization was the over-the-top “fight” between Normani and Cabello.
“The intentions of my acting was not to portray Normani as a ‘bitter black woman,'” he said. “The video was made to be humorous & over exaggerate each artist. 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.”
He added that as a person of color himself, he didn’t think about how black women may have been offended. “So to black women i will apologize,” he said.
“What i WILL NOT apologize for is having fun playing Normani as an androgynous individual,” he added.
Insider has reached out to Niki and Gabi for comment.