Black Women / Blog / Colorism / Music / Race

Kendrick’s Colorism

Hip-Hop artist Kendrick Lamar debuted his fourth LP, Damn. As character of his work, Kendrick unleashed thought-provoking tracks, most notably Humble. Released as the first single off the Damn LP, Humble caused quite a stir. Contrary to album critique’s, Humble has come under scrutiny, but not for Kendrick’s shots fired lyrical heat, but for his choice to give voice to society’s image of Black women and beauty and his appreciation for woman that are natural.

In a resounding force, Black women took to every social media outlet possible to express their discontentment with Lamar’s input on Black women and what is considered beautiful. Kendrick is quoted:

I’m so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop
Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor
Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks

Kendrick Lamar

In response to Kendrick’s latest artist endeavor; Black women everywhere have been quite vocal in their disagreement. There have been many perceptions ranging from the idea that Kendrick displayed misogynistic male entitlement for even speaking on the looks of women, to the denouncing of his right to have an opinion about the misguided standards of beauty. However; after much dialogue with other Black women it seems the biggest issue Black women have with Kendrick’s Humble has nothing to do with his position as an artist, but with his personal life.

From FB post to twitter rants, Black woman have been pouring in the criticism of Kendrick Lamar. It seems that it is an issue for Lamar, a Black man, to speak on the beauty ideals impressed upon Black women because his fiancé is a fairer skin mulatto woman.

In fact, author and blogger Rashida Strober expressed similar sentiment in an interview recently.

“Kendrick Lamar’s wife is not black. She is a mixed-race woman as one of her parents is mixed and the other black.

Black men like Kendrick Lamar need, to be honest, and quit using dark skinned women as a come up to garner support from a marketing standpoint, which causes them to sell more of their flawed product. It is quite reasonable to expect that a man that speaks about dark skinned women, should actually place dark skin women in his videos and who has a song called “Complexion” may just be married to or dating a DARK SKINNED BLACK WOMAN. But this is not the case. Fraud. Leave dark skin women out your bullshit! I as a dark black woman am tired of being used for an economic come up then being ditched when socio-economic benefit starts rolling in. I’d rather a person like him not advocate my dark skinned female oppression. HE Lacks CREDIBILITY”

I find this perspective interesting for several reasons.

Kendrick Lamar is indeed engaged to a mulatto, yes mulatto as in BLACK and white, woman who is fair in complexion. However, what Strober fails to acknowledge is that Lamar didn’t start dating his “mixed-race woman” after he obtained socio-economic benefit. On the contrary, Lamar has been in a long-term relationship with Whitney Alford; in fact, they’ve dated since high school. Despite Strober’s insinuation, Alford would be the epitome of the Black woman who stood by the side of her man when there were no chips to be down and not the new-found benefit of success. The whole Alford and Lamar dynamic is contradicting to the misguided mislabeling Strober implied against Kendrick with the statement “I as a dark black woman am tired of being used for an economic come up then being ditched when socio-economic benefit starts rolling in.”

As a woman of fair complexion, whose has a mulatto paternal parent it is offensive, and I find it interesting, that darker skinned women, such as Strober, speak so openly about the discrimination of colorism; but, in the same breath will speak from a separating exclusionary position as if being fair skinned removes my Blackness. I will not deny that having fairer skin can be viewed or treated differently by both men and women alike; however, I will say that whether darker or fairer skinned a Black woman is a Black woman and the incessant need to differentiate the levels of Blackness based on complexion only continues to support and keep alive the thriving ideology of colorism. Essentially, what is being implied is that fair skinned woman has some privilege or pass in the hierarchy of Blackness or that being darker makes being Black substantially more difficult – when the statistics speak otherwise.

Black woman, not dark skinned Black woman only – but Black women still birth children out of wedlock at a staggering 75%, they also are only 30% likely to be/get married by age 30, and approximately 70% of Black women’s first marriages will result in divorce. There is not separate category for fair skinned woman as opposed to dark skinned women in these numbers – it’s Black woman period.

Colorism isn’t Kendrick’s issue it is Ms. Strober’s. I think in all her advocacy for her beliefs and the recognition of her struggles she turns a blind eye to the reality that she is indeed a continuation, within herself, of that which she stands against. Strober speaks so adamantly about the preferential bias of fair skinned women to “these men”, yet she fails to acknowledge that she herself is separating in her own Blackness.

From the stand point in which Strober presents, Whitney Alford is the defining woman to explain Kendrick’s influence and understanding of Black women and beauty – simply because she is who he chooses to marry. Being honest, she simply states that because his fiancé is fair skinned he should just shut up and not say anything at all about darker skinned woman.

Well to this argument I introduce Paula Duckworth, Kendrick’s mother – notice anything about this Black woman. Think on it… you got it, she’s a dark skin Black woman.

Like most of us who have mothers, Paula Duckworth was a pivotal part of Kendrick’s life and I would assume his first image of a beautiful Black woman.

Oh, and let’s not forget this young lady, her pseudonym is Sherane.sherane

For Kendrick fan’s familiar with good kidd m.A.A.d city, you know Sherane; but, for those who don’t, Sherane was the teenage crush/girlfriend of Kendrick Lamar prior to dating Whitney Alford. Notice anything about this Black woman? Yep, you guessed it – she’s a darker skinned Black woman. Oh, and a darker skinned “Sherane-resembling” Tokyo played the part of Sherane in Lamar’s video, Backseat Freestyle.

So, to allude that Kendrick lacks entitlement to speak on Black women and their beauty on the basis that he currently dates a woman of fair complexion, is simply bias. It disregards the complete history of this man as if his life began only when he started dating Whitney Alford, as if there are no other possible women that could influence his opinion or appreciation.

The whole presentation of Strober’s response to the question asked regarding Kendrick seemed to come from a place of personal strife and negative experience. In fact, in her preference for “Black men like Kendrick” to “not advocate my [her] dark skinned female oppression” is negating of the fact that a person’s current relationship doesn’t outline their entire opinion and understanding of a concept.

A person dating someone that looks different than ourselves does not decrease our personal beauty, nor does it mean that they cannot see that we possess beautiful features – it simply means that they are currently dating someone that physically looks different than ourselves. That does not make them fraudulent or discredited, especially if they have been influenced [by] or dated people who resemble us, it means that they are not limited in what appeals to them.

In all honesty, it seems that Ms. Strober should take some time to introspectively ask her why is it that she so vigilantly speaks against Black man who choose to date within his race, regardless of his fiancé’s complexion. Truthfully speaking, it seems deeper then “these kind of men” and more of a “my experiences have made me bitter and so I will hate any Black man that dates anyone lighter than myself”.

~ Written

One thought on “Kendrick’s Colorism

  1. Fantastic post! So eloquently written, I literally had to add it to my ‘must read’ list & I read it 2x just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

    I appreciate both your post & just your perspective on the topic as a whole. Being a black woman myself, I don’t understand why we as a ppl are so quick to be divisive within & at the same time generalize ourselves (I hope I’m making sense). For example the whole light skin dark skin thing – as you mentioned in this post, the statistics don’t ever highlight a difference in complexion, but just Black ppl as a whole. So in essence on a grand scheme of things your skin complexion is just genetic and/or environmental factors which determined or contributed to how much melanin you would have. With that being said, Strober def sounded like she’s had bad experiences with men,which she has internalized & has decided to group “men like Kendrick Lamar” together, which is rather unfortunate..

    Again great post & thanks so much for sharing!


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