R&B singer Tinashe and New York radio personality Ebro Darden are trending on Twitter after a video of their 2013 interview on his Hot 97 morning show resurfaced in which he teases her about her name. After Ebro asked Tinashe’s last name (it’s Kachingwe, by the way) and his co-host, Peter Rosenberg, supplied the answer, Ebro tried to joke about Tinashe’s “unusual” name — which comes from the Zimbabwean Shona language and means “We have God (or God is with us)” — somehow mashing together reckless colorism with an ignorant, classist statement.
“Can we point out how light-skinned she is with a ghetto-ass name?” Ebro wonders. Rosenberg checks him, telling him, “It’s not a ghetto name, it’s an African name.” Although he incorrectly states that it’s a Nigerian name, Tinashe clarifies that it’s Zimbabwean and gives them the definition. Ebro tries to explain himself, saying, “Sometimes these ghetto names are actually African.” Meanwhile, Tinashe merely smiles at Ebro in the clip on Twitter, which cuts off before her response. In the full interview, which is still on YouTube, she addresses the light skin comment, explaining that her father is from Zimbabwe, while her mom is white.
yeah tinashe better than me because i would’ve became real disrespectful pic.twitter.com/IH1kcQKnNh
— KJ. (@thekonyjen) November 26, 2021
In posting the video, the user who resurfaced the clip pointed out the singer’s composure in the awkward moment but let’s be honest: She’s probably used to it. People say all kinds of wild things to kids who don’t just have generic or Biblical names and the question “what are you mixed with” gets lobbed at fairer-skinned Black people all the time. In fact, Tinashe herself imperfectly explained colorism during the run-up to her third studio album, Joyride, pointing out how her complexion often causes confusion from other people. Twitter, being Twitter, dragged her for the comment, but it looks like today, the tables have turned.
The fact that Rosenberg, a white man, is correcting Ebro, a black man, about African names is doing my head in. https://t.co/foar4n6z3L
— Kivali 🇵🇸 (@chammy_255) November 26, 2021
being called "lightskinned with a ghetto name" by a fellow biracial named Ebro. el OH el. https://t.co/NT7PdumjV7
— 🎄Sneaky LinkedIn🎄 (@kia_who) November 26, 2021
Ebro is a yt man of color
— BIG LATTE ☕ (@ESPNFrankie) November 26, 2021
It’s ppl like Ebro and The Breakfast Club that makes me 100% understand why Doja and other artist don’t fucking like doing interviews
— 🌹XII.VIII.MCMXCIV🌹 (@forevrblushing) November 26, 2021
Users excoriated Ebro for his comments (it’s unclear whether they recognized how old the video is), while pointing out the obvious irony in them, given Ebro himself is a light-skinned Black man with African roots and an unusual name. For his part, he apologized for comments, saying, “Yea this was a terrible joke, we were using the name skit for people to learn her origins… love Tinashe that’s my homey still.” Obviously, he’s (mostly) grown from this era of confrontational journalism, although he also made Saweetie cry by dissing her freestyle a few years later. Hopefully, he’ll continue to learn and grow, as we all should, and find a way to balance his jokes with consideration, thoughtfulness, and empathy. You can watch the full interview above.