Normani Kordei had an emotional week on Dancing With the Stars, but it paid off with two perfect scores and an apparent shedding of the emotional baggage that she has been carrying around for almost nine months. Ahead of her contemporary dance with partner Val Chmerkovskiy, Normani revealed that she was the victim of vicious cyber-bullying after an interview comment was taken out of context. Kordei revealed she was a target of racial slurs and had to take a break from social media after the harassment.
“I got bullied terribly on social media,” Kordei said in the DWTS segment.
“I did an interview. It was taken out of context completely and there were images. People were calling me the N-word. It was really ugly. It was every time I went online it’s ‘Oh, how much we hate you. How talentless you are.’ They actually made images of me being whipped, beaten, hung.”
Normani said she felt “very alone” at the time and believed that everybody hated her.
“I shouldn’t want to change the color of my skin, or the texture of my hair or the fact that I am a woman, I felt really alone and just like everybody hated me,” Normani said.
For her Week 8 DWTS contemporary, Kordei danced to Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton’s Django Unchained soundtrack song, “Freedom,” amid a center of a ring of dancers who represented the faceless people who have harassed her online. Normani and Val earned a perfect score for their emotional performance.
— blind (@celebhappenin) May 9, 2017
After her performance, Normani Kordei thanked Hamilton for creating such a powerful piece of music.
Thank you for creating such a powerful body of work that helped capture my story. The freedom to be who you are takes courage ???????? I'm honored https://t.co/VP1HfatpsC
— NormaniKordei (@NormaniKordei) May 9, 2017
Normani Kordei’s social media problems started last August when irate Fifth Harmony fans thought she threw shade at fellow 5H singer Camila Cabello. During a Facebook Live chat with Galore, which you can see below, Normani was asked to say something nice about each of the members of her girl group. While she had no trouble with the other 5H members, Kordei stumbled when talking about Cabello.
“She is … let’s see. Camila. Very quirky. Yeah,” Normani said. “Very quirky. Cute.”
Normani’s unusual response set Twitter ablaze. Angry fans began attacking Kordei to the point that she posted a long explanation of her comment on the social media site. When that didn’t stop the harassment, Normani announced she was taking a break from Twitter.
“I’ve never been one to deny anyone of their opinions, but over the course of this last week and especially over the last 48 hours I’ve not just been cyberbullied, I’ve been racially cyberbullied with tweets and pictures so horrific and racially charged that I can’t subject myself any longer to the hate,” Normani wrote. “I have nothing but love for everyone, even my haters and I hope I can lead by example.”
— NormaniKordei (@NormaniKordei) August 5, 2016
To my fans: pic.twitter.com/7yICp10G5Z
— NormaniKordei (@NormaniKordei) August 7, 2016
Even Cabello defended Kordei, telling fans she would not tolerate any kind of hate, racism, or discrimination on her timeline.
“You don’t have to hate on somebody else to support me,” she wrote. “I don’t appreciate it and it’s not what I’m about. ”
i stand by the words "love only", meaning I won't tolerate on my timeline any kind of hate, racism, or discrimination towards ANYONE. period
— Camila Cabello (@Camila_Cabello) August 6, 2016
You don't have to hate on somebody else to support me- I don't appreciate it and it's not what I'm about.. Be kind or move on
— Camila Cabello (@Camila_Cabello) August 6, 2016
Kordei later went into detail about her ordeal in an emotional essay for Refinery 29. Normani wrote that she was shocked by the reaction from haters after the August 2016 interview.
“What I said was completely taken out of context, and I got attacked terribly through social media,” she said.
“I was on tour when it happened, and that made it even worse because I was away from home. It was a really hard time. Being on the road, having to do meet-and-greets, having to do shows, pretending like nothing was wrong when it was such a devastating time for me. It was really toxic for me. I would literally go online and see racial comments about myself, and images of me being edited [to show people] trying to harm me and hurt me in terrible ways. It was really ugly. I had to step away for a good two months just to remain sane.”
Kordei even admitted that she considered quitting Fifth Harmony’s tour because she just wanted to go home and feel safe.
Normani also said social media “takes away from us being sensitive as human beings with one another,” and she urged fans to be kind to one another.
“People don’t understand that words are just as harmful as being physical with somebody,” Normani said.
“It just creates an awful space for hate … Ultimately, I came out even stronger. I’m sad it had to happen that way in order for me to be as strong as I am now.”
You can see Normani Kordei’s powerful Dancing with the Stars performance below.
[Featured Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]