Niki and Gabi DeMartino Respond to Normani Video Backlash

Niki and Gabi DeMartino Respond to Normani Video Backlash

Twin YouTubers Niki and Gabi DeMartino are responding to the backlash surrounding a recent video of theirs that features an "ignorant" depiction of Normani.

Earlier this week, the duo posted a video dubbed "Going to College Dressed As Celebrities Challenge," in which the DeMartinos, their older sister Alex, and a friend named Dennis dressed up as Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Camila Cabello, and Normani.

The four of them end up roaming around a college campus acting out several skits playing upon the well-known public images of these celebrities. However, Niki and Gabi's depiction of Normani was met with ample backlash thanks to its reliance on stereotypes about Black women.

In the video, the YouTubers have Dennis portray Normani and get into a "fight" with the Cabello lookalike, in what many thought was a reference to rumored tensions within their girl group, Fifth Harmony.

However, as many pointed out, this plays into the harmful "angry Black woman" trope, while the use of a seemingly male-presenting person to play Normani feeds into the othering idea that Black women are "manly" and "masculine."

Gabi's initial response was to say that they weren't "aware" of the stereotype and it wasn't their intention to offend, before adding that Dennis was "a fan, wanted to be her, & did damn well. it simply was not that deep." She also wrote that they "don't do castings for our videos," and that "there should be no label to who can or can't do things based on their gender" — a defense that other users pointed out did not negate the fact that their video was perceived as offensive.

That said, Niki has responded by writing that she and Gabi "truly 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. Learning curve," she wrote, before adding that, "the angered followers do have a point."

"Given time to cool off and let this sink in, I realize we don't know what they go thru. People have a right to an opinion and to be angry / feel hurt. I feel ignorant & I'm sorry," Niki continued.

"I'm sorry if anyone was offended that we had our talented, beautiful & hilarious male best friend play a black woman," she posted in a follow-up tweet. "However, we aren't sorry for including him & welcoming him to our channel to play someone he loves. The accusations made me confused, but I'm learning."

Additionally, Dennis himself also issued a response, writing, "The intentions of my acting was not to portray Normani as a 'bitter black woman,'" before adding, "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."

However, he added that would "NOT apologize" for "having fun playing Normani as an androgynous individual."

"I do love Normani & respect her. It does hurt to see people jump to conclusions ab my gender or to assign a gender to me that they see fit. This wasn't casted based on gender but simply off of talent & was all in good fun," Dennis added. "if ppl want to attack me for the way I look & add negativite connotations to my gender then stay to the left w/that energy. i will continue to do me & learn from my mistakes. to black women; I'm sorry. To Normani & her fans i do apologize."

Photo via Getty