Beyonce has been on the outs with her father and former manager, Mathew Knowles, for some time, but comments he’s made in a recent interview with Ebony magazine while promoting his book about racism may make reconciliation more difficult.
Knowles’ book, Racism: From The Eyes Of A Child, discusses how his upbringing in the Deep South through the ’50s and ’60s informed his views on race, from his perspective on his own self-esteem to the influence of colorism on his marriage to Beyonce’s mother Tina.
“I actually thought when I met Tina, my former wife, that she was White,” he admits during the interview, adding, “I had been conditioned from childhood. With eroticized rage, there was actual rage in me as a Black man, and I saw the White female as a way, subconsciously, of getting even or getting back. There are a lot of Black men of my era that are not aware of this thing.”
He also notes that the music industry is plagued with the same sort of colorism, noting that of the most successful and popular Black singers, nearly all of them share a common trait: They are usually light-skinned.
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!
Knowles notes that adopting this mindset is about co-existing in America, where people are still prejudged by the color of their skin. Nor is he the first person to point out the industry’s double standard of support. Even if some of the practices of prejudice are no longer as socially acceptable, they didn’t fade away as thoroughly or as long ago as some people would hope. “I was in the last class where they’d take out a brown paper bag, and if you were darker than the bag, you could not get into Fisk,” he says. “It was 1972.”