When Camilla Cabello decided to make her exit from Fifth Harmony in 2016, fans were not surprised to hear of the girl group's choice to go on an indefinite hiatus just two years later. The members' relationship changed radically once they started pursuing their individual careers, especially the connection between Cabello and Normani.
After the split, internet sleuths dug up Cabello's now-defunct Tumblr page. Its contents were dismaying; the singer's social media housed a litany of racial slurs and memes, posted in her early teens. Combined with the racist trolls on the attack on a daily basis and the group's clumsy, "all lives matter"-adjacent attempt to defend their sole Black member, Cabello's problematic posts threw Normani for a loop.
"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," Normani told Rolling Stone in a candid interview, choosing her words carefully. As many of the Black female entertainers before her had done, she took the high road, choosing not to comment. Like Beyoncé and countless other Black women in the industry, Normani wasn't going to clap back — instead, her work would be her defense.
Unsurprisingly, Normani's talent spoke volumes. In the years following the announcement of the 5H hiatus in 2018, she has established herself as an artist to watch. The early 2000s throwback single "Motivation" has fans salivating for her pending debut album, including the likes of Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. She's a Savage x Fenty ambassador, and she even opened up for friend Ariana Grande on the 2019 Sweetener world tour. No matter what the trolls have to say, even they can't deny what Normani is working with.
Cabello has since apologized for the racist social media posts, and now that Normani is older and wiser, she feels that she can appropriately respond to that traumatic discovery with tact. The 23-year-old isn't mincing words: Cabello's actions were beyond painful.
"It was devastating that this came from a place that was supposed to be a safe haven and a sisterhood," she admitted to Rolling Stone. "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," Normani continued. "Whether or not it was her intention, this made me feel like I was second to the relationship that she had with her fans.”
While Normani has healed from that personal pain from someone she once felt was as close as a sister, she's fully aware that, as a Black woman, that kind of casual racial vitriol is sadly an everyday occurrence. But Normani is a superstar in the making, and she's not letting racism stop her: "I deserve to be celebrated and I’m just getting started."