Jidenna responds to Nigerians who were insulted by 'light-skinned' comment

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Nigerian-American rapper Jidenna came under fire recently when he made comments suggesting that he was perceived as wealthy because he was a light-skinned Igbo man.

“Our family was light. Therefore when we go to our village, and when I actually buried my father, I had to bring a lot of AK47s, I had to employ military commandos… Because when you’re light skinned, you’re a heavier target for being kidnapped… Because you’re seen as more valuable. You’re seen as white, therefore you have money. You’re American, therefore you have more money. If you have more money you’re easy to kidnap, and if you’re easy to kidnap we’re going to get you. So for me being light-skinned in Nigeria, in our family, it was difficult,” he said in a July 10 interview.

Since then, he has received much backlash for his comments, with many saying that he was painting Nigeria as too dangerous or violent and others criticizing the colorism in his comments.

He has since posted an open letter, saying, “I am, always have been, and always will be proud of my Nigerian heritage.”

He added, “Contrary to popular belief, this interview was not the first in which I mentioned Nigeria. In fact, I’m frequently bragging about how Nigerians attend the world’s most prestigious institutions, and how we are known to produce world class doctors, entrepreneurs, innovators, lawyers, engineers, professors, athletes and artists.”

He then specifically addressed the questions of colorism, saying, “My comments about skin tone were related to the notion of perceived wealth and value, not my personal beliefs. My point was never to imply that biracial or ‘light-skinned’ people are the only ones or the most targeted group of people kidnapped, or that I myself was wealthy at the time. Rather than focus on my perceived value, let us continue to focus on the value of Nigeria.”