Uh oh, 24-year-old singer Camila Cabello is in major trouble after viewers spotted one of her back-up dancers donning blackface during her Don’t Go Yet performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Cabello is best known for her role in the girl group Fifth Harmony. After leaving the band in 2016, she began to rise to fame as a solo performer, collaborating with many renowned artists and releasing multiple hit singles. Since then, she has headlined her own tours and served as an opening act for Taylor Swift.
Some of her popular hits include the songs Havana and Senorita, the latter being a collaboration with her now-boyfriend Shawn Mendes. Earlier this week, on July 23, the singer released her latest song called Don’t Go Yet. This song is inspired heavily by her Latin background and incorporates flamenco guitar, maracas, and rhythmic handclapping.
She performed this song on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on July 24 and viewers were instantly unnerved by the performance, accusing one of her featured dancers of darkening his skin color to appear more ethnic.
Viewers were livid to see Cabello’s backup dancer, Dylan Pearce, with darkened skin during the live performance of Don’t Go Yet. In addition to the skin tint, he was wearing a silk purple shirt and white pants as he swayed his hips to the Latin rhythm of the song.
Making things even worse, before the backlash was raised, the white dancer was seen likening his look to a dark-skinned emoji. Sharing a screenshot from the performance, he wrote on his Instagram story, “Emoji fashion on point!”
While Cabello is still asserting her innocence, stating that his appearance wasn’t blackface but instead, “a white man with the terrible spray tan,” fans are using Pearce’s commentary as admittance to his behavior.
In Cabello’s full response, she opened up her iPhone notes app (in the typical ‘problematic celebrity’ fashion) and penned a long explanation to her fans. She wrote, “So, this dude was just supposed to be a white man with a terrible spray tan. We purposefully tried to pull together a multicultural group of performers, the expectation was not that everyone in the performance needed to be Latin.”
Towards the end, she reemphasized, “The point was to try to make each person look like an over-the-top 80’s character just like in the video, including a white dude with a terrible orange spray tan.”
How did fans react?
Despite Cabello’s explanation, viewers are adamant that the dancer’s tan did not appear to be orange. And judging by his ’emoji twin comment,’ it seemed as though he also didn’t get the memo.
One critic wrote, “Yeah, I better not see any more Camila fans pull that ‘she apologized’ or ‘she’s learned from her mistakes’ excuse she obviously hasn’t…. like allowing an entire dancer to do BLACKFACE????”
The last comment was in reference to a previous interview with Cabello, where she admitted to using derogatory language in the past and shared that she was attending “racial healing groups.”
She told People Magazine, “It created a space where I was held accountable. You get corrected, you have homework, and you learn. That’s how you move forward. Now I know better so I can do better.”
However, it is clear that the general public isn’t impressed by her efforts as she still deflected responsibility for her recent actions and carelessly dismissed the blackface backlash from Black and Brown commentators.
Don’t Go Yet is currently streaming on all major music platforms.