People are just realizing that both of Rita Ora's parents are white, and now she's being accused of 'blackfishing'

cahlgrim@businessinsider.com (Callie Ahlgrim)
·4 mins read
Rita Ora attends Capital's Jingle Bell Ball on December 7, 2019.
Rita Ora attends Capital's Jingle Bell Ball on December 7, 2019.

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

  • Rita Ora is a 29-year-old singer whose family is from Kosovo.

  • Although Ora is white, it seems that many people incorrectly assume that she's Black or mixed-race.

  • A tweet calling attention to her parentage and accusing Ora of "blackfishing" racked up nearly 100,000 likes and 20,000 retweets on Sunday.

  • Ora has worn cornrows, laid edges, and apparently drawn plenty of fashion inspiration from Black culture.

  • Paired with her tan skin tone, people believe that Ora has intentionally encouraged an image of racial ambiguity.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Rita Ora has come under fire after a semi-viral tweet called attention to her white parentage.

One Twitter user accused the 29-year-old British singer of "blackfishing" on Sunday, attaching a photo of Ora with her parents, as well as images of her wearing historically Black hairstyles.

"finding out rita ora isn't black at all and both of her parents are white albanians is so trippy. the girls BEEN blackfishing," the tweet reads, which has racked up nearly 100,000 likes and more than 20,000 retweets.

"like the girl isn't black in the slightest this is kinda freaking me out," the Twitter user continued. "yt [white] women really slip into black personas so easily."

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Ora's family is from Kosovo, a self-declared independent country in the Balkan Peninsula, which consists mainly of Albanian and Serbian people.

In 2016, Wendy Williams told Ora, "I thought you were half-Black and half-white, or something like that."

Ora replied: "Everybody usually does. I might as well be. But no, I'm Albanian."

Despite her white European heritage, Ora has repeatedly worn her hair in box braids, cornrows, and an afro. More recently, she has gelled and styled her baby hairs, all of which is widely considered to be cultural appropriation.

White celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian West, Jeffree Star, Bhad Bhabie, and Lucy Hale have been criticized for similar hairstyles.

As Gina Conteh writes for BET, "Black hair has been ridiculed, mocked, discriminated against, and policed since the first colonizers arrived on the continent of Africa. "

"When we talk about the cultural appropriation of our braided hairstyles, whether its boxer braids or Bo Derek braids, we are simply pointing out the historical context and ancestral significance that comes with our hairstyles. Black hair isn't a trend as soon as it's on a white head."

Paired with her tan skin tone, Ora's stylistic decisions led many fans to believe that she is Black or mixed-race.

Now that people on Twitter are realizing she's white, Ora has been accused of intentionally cultivating the assumption, a phenomenon known online as "blackfishing."

British TV writer Camilla Blackett said Ora was "absolutely selling herself as black in the UK for YEARS."

Culture critic Cate Young wrote, "She was absolutely doing Rihanna cosplay for a couple years there."

Others blamed her label, Jay-Z's Roc Nation, for marketing the singer as "racially ambiguous" or even "Rihanna 2.0."

Some have defended Ora, arguing that she's naturally "ethnic" or "ambiguous," and that her only source of blame is wearing Black hairstyles.

Representatives for Ora did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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