In an exclusive interview with Ebony.com, Mathew Knowles asserted that the light complexions of his daughters Beyoncé and Solange helped boost their music careers.
Knowles offered the candid commentary after admitting that one of the reasons he first started dating his ex-wife Tina Knowles-Lawson was because of her light skin. He claims he actually thought she was a white woman. During the interview, Knowles put that experience and his daughters’ place on the music charts in context with how he was raised to idolize light skin and view white (or near white) women as a prize.
The 66-year-old did the interview to promote his upcoming book Racism: From the Eyes of a Child, a memoir that details Knowles’ experiences growing up in the segregated South. He also offers commentary on race and racism in general in America.
I’m sure you noticed similar patterns of colorism once you joined the music industry.
Oh, of course! I challenge my students at Texas Southern to think about this. When it comes to Black females, who are the people who get their music played on pop radio? Mariah Carey, Rihanna, the female rapper Nicki Minaj, my kids [Beyonce and Solange], and what do they all have in common?
They’re all lighter skinned.
Do you think that’s an accident?
Of course not!
So you get it!
Since going through a very public divorce with Beyoncé and Solange’s mother Tina Knowles-Lawson, Knowles has not been a favorite when it comes to his daughters’ fans, but with this statement on colorism and his admission that he initially pursued his ex-wife because of her light skin tone, he actually received a little Twitter love.
Mathew Knowles is correct. https://t.co/jo6J3JP0Bw
— #BlackQueerstoryMonth (@_iAmRoyal) February 5, 2018
Mathew Knowles is actually talking a lot of sense here. And it can be related to how people like Amara and dark skin women in general are treated. pic.twitter.com/iI3jyg2UnD
— Queen With The Crowns (@Thatgirldavis) February 1, 2018
I dont think he saying her success is due to her light skin but is what open the doors unfortunately looks play a huge part in music industry theres alot of dark skin over weight women out there who could sing her under the table but they don’t have the look even get an audition
— Noseyfoxy (@Noseyfox) February 6, 2018
People talk about colorism every day on the timeline, but now it’s an issue because it’s coming from Mathew Knowles, huh? Hilarious. https://t.co/X1jKnAbDJx
— ᴅᴏʟʟᴀʀ (@callmedollar) February 2, 2018
The colorism controversy in pop culture
Knowles’ commentary comes on the heels of a controversial scene in Love and Hip Hop Miami that sparked a public debate about colorism.
In the scene, a music producer named Young Hollywood grills Afro-Latina singer Amara La Negra about her appearance. Amara has a deep brown complexion and sports a sizable afro that is reminiscent of Pamela Grier’s luscious fro from back in the 1970s.
Young Hollywood essentially told Amara that she would have to tone down her Blackness if she wanted to get ahead in the music industry. The exchange served as a catalyst for on and off-line conversations about what it means to be Afro-Latino and if colorism is as much of an issue as in years past.
Knowles’ thoughts on the subject re-ignite this public discourse by putting Beyoncé, one of the most successful and famous entertainers of all time, squarely in the center of the debate. The 22-time Grammy award winner has undeniable talent, but also has a light complexion and long, flowing, blonde tresses.
Do you think Beyoncé’s light skin helped her music career? If she were darker, would she have gotten the chance to showcase her talents to the world?
Let us know what you think!