YouTubers Niki & Gabi DeMartino Apologize For ‘Racist’ Video Portrayal Of Normani

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Niki DeMartino and Gabi Normani

Youtube / Niki & Gabi

YouTuber duo Niki and Gabi DeMartino have come under fire for their portrayal of Normani in their latest video. The video, titled “Going to College Dressed as Celebrities Challenge,” shows Niki, Gabi, their older sister Alex, and a friend named Dennis dress up as Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, and Normani, and walk around a college campus acting as their celebrity counterparts.

The characters perform comedic skits around the campus, such as singing song lyrics at strangers, but it’s not the satire that people have taken issue with. Viewers criticized the YouTuber’s decision to cast Normani as a man, while the other three (white) singers were played by women. A scene in the video also shows Normani and Camila argue in the street, which some viewers say plays into the racist stereotype “the angry black woman.”

Gabi was the first to respond to the criticism by brushing off negative comments because she “wasn’t aware” and doesn’t believe it’s “that deep.”

After further criticism, she backtracked and blamed “bad wording” for her first reply.

Gabi also took to Twitter to apologize to anyone offended by her choice to cast Dennis in the video.

Niki joined her sister in tweeting a slightly defensive statement, saying that she was sorry for any offense caused but not sorry for including her friend in the video.

Just hours later, the YouTuber proceeded to tweet more about learning from the mistake and saying she felt ignorant. In a series of tweets, Niki admitted to being unaware of the stereotypes women of color face and vowed to do more to spread awareness. “People have a right to an opinion and to be angry … feel hurt. I feel ignorant,” she wrote. She also didn’t *quite* apologize for casting Dennis because “[they] see Dennis as feminine. he does his makeup better than me, and can act sexier than I ever could. understand why some people would be confused, but the assumption we purposely hired a black man to play a black woman is a stretch. [sic]”

Dennis, who played Normani in the video, also tweeted an apology to his followers in a series of tweets.

Perpetuating negative racial stereotypes is never okay, and intentions don’t outweigh the reactions felt by real women who see themselves reflected in an overly aggressive dude playing their idol. Normani is taking over the world with “Motivation” at the moment, Niki and Gabi don’t want to be on her bad side.

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