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Why is Rita Ora being accused of ‘blackfishing’ on Twitter?

By Harriet Piercy

Aug 10, 2020

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Over the past 24-hours, 29-year-old singer-songwriter Rita Ora, who is of white Albanian heritage, has been accused of ‘blackfishing’ on Twitter by fans and the public. But in a time when cultural appropriation and cancel culture prevail, we dig deeper to see if this is really the case with Ora.

Why is Rita Ora being accused of Blackfishing?

With some fans shocked by the newly learnt facts of Ora’s roots being different to what was first perceived, a Twitter call out to cancel the singer emerged. Ora’s style and image were what apparently led many people to believe she has a connection to Black heritage. The singer uses afro-wigs and wears her hair in braids, which has sparked many cultural appropriation debates on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/Ella__WinkleOG/status/1292620628667834370?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1292620628667834370%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fd-14393636012879991972.ampproject.net%2F2007242032002%2Fframe.html

The star is frequently compared by fans to fellow singer Rhianna, and other Twitter users have hit back at claims that the singer is ‘blackfishing’, adding that these comparisons are where the issues surrounding our interpretation of race started. Ora was actually born in Pristina, Yugoslavia presently known as Kosovo and both of her parents are Albanian. In April the star spoke in an interview with Vogue of her ethnicity and traced back her family history.

Fans are supporting the artist in saying that “If you listen to Rita Ora’s interviews from back in the day, you’ll know that her music/fashion style has been influenced by a diverse group of artists. She’s never blackfished, she genuinely appreciates those looks. It doesn’t make it right to use them.”

https://twitter.com/BillsBeBoop/status/1292621177664372737?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1292621177664372737%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fmeaww.com%2Fis-rita-ora-black-ethnicity-albanian-internet-shocked-ethinicity-accusing-blackfishing-mixed-race

The fact that Ora has never claimed to be black has also been pointed out, the artist seems to genuinely open about her heritage, as well as what other people thought about her heritage, since the very beginning. Some fans were surprised that other people viewed her as Black in the first place. She revealed that in order to escape persecution, her family fled to London, she said that “when the conflict started in what is now former Yugoslavia, my parents made the difficult decision to leave. Thousands were killed in the brutal decade-long war, and more than one million people were forced to flee, including my parents, with me and my siblings in tow.

What is Blackfishing?

‘Blackfishing’ is used to describe a process where white heritage individuals use artificial means like makeup, fashion style, cosmetic procedures or artificial tanning to paint themselves as racially ‘ambiguous’ in order to appear like they have Black ancestry. The overall issue is that someone is trying to dress up as an ethnicity that is not their own.

Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Arianna Grande and now Rita Ora have been accused of Blackfishing.

https://twitter.com/ira/status/1292583273307103233?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1292583273307103233%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fd-34705737271118406951.ampproject.net%2F2007242032001%2Fframe.html

What does Rita Ora have to say about it?

It seems as though Ora isn’t that bothered, she’s posting pictures of her holiday in Ibiza with her new boyfriend Romain Gavras. The artist was one of many musicians who signed a petition to ‘wipe out racism’ in the British music industry after Wiley’s anti-semitic posts, the letter states that “Through music, education and empathy we can find unity. We stand together, to educate and wipe out racism now and for our future generations.”

As we live in a world where perspectives are easily driven, and sometimes misinformed by the media, which leads to us, in some cases, leaping towards judgement without understanding first, we’re going to give her the benefit of the doubt and let her holiday in peace.