Why Do Black Prominent Figures Face Persistent Scrutiny Regarding Their Racial Identity?

Written By Yasmine Duhé

A Tired Narrative

Tina Knowles, mother of Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, took to Instagram to defend her daughter against the backlash she received for her appearance at her Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé premiere. Fans flooded social media with comments, accusing Queen Bey of bleaching her skin. This prompts the question: Why do Black prominent figures face constant scrutiny regarding their Blackness?

Beyonce, Michael Jackson
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Ms. Tina Fires Back At Haters

On Nov. 25, the premiere of Queen Bey’s Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé occurred, marking the upcoming release of the “CUFF IT” singer’s highly anticipated film on December 1. During the premiere, Beyoncé was donned in silver and chrome Versace attire with platinum silver hair, leading some social media users to accuse her of bleaching her skin and being “whitewashed.” 

Tina Knowles slammed these allegations, stating:

“She does a film, called the renaissance, where the whole theme is silver with silver hair, a silver carpet, and suggested silver attire and you bozos decide that she’s trying to be a white woman and is bleaching her skin? How sad is it that some of her own people continue the stupid narrative with hate and jealousy. Duh, she wore silver hair to match her silver dress as a fashion statement clown. ALIEN Superstar duh! What’s really sad is that a white woman had the audacity to reach out to Neal Beyonces hairstylist she was from TMZ to say that the fans are saying that she wants to be white and she wanted to get a statement about it from Neal.. lWell that made, my blood boil, that this white woman felt so entitled to discuss her blackness. What’s really most disappointing is that the some Black people yes you bozos that’s on social media. Lying and faking and acting like you’re so ignorant that you don’t understand That black women have worn platinum hair since the Etta James days. I just went and looked at all the beautiful talented black celebrities who have worn platinum hair and it has been just about everyone of them at one time or another. Are they all trying to be white? I am sick and tired of people attacking her.”

Following Tina calling out those diminishing her daughter, users had much to say regarding her recent comments. 

One user named @MJFINESSELOVER wrote, “I’m glad Mama Tina DRAGGED all of the bozos and losers, who were accusing Beyonce of bleaching her skin, and also TMZ for having the audacity to even reach out to Beyonce’s stylist for comment on this nonsense. She has had enough of ya’ll attacking her daughter. Smh.” 

Fellow Celebs Offer Outpouring Support

As Tina vouched for her daughter, the Knowles matriarch was met with an outpour of support from many including actress KeKe Palmer, LaTavia Roberson, Octavia Spencer, and more. 

Keke wrote:

“I love you so much Ms. Tina! She deserves to be protected in this way!” 

Former Destiny’s Child member LaTavia chimed in and wrote:

“Educate them, they always try to break the Black Woman especially one they feel intimidated by. The true definition of a protector.” Lastly, Octavia Spencer wrote, “You have raised beautiful, intelligent black, PROUD TO BE BLACK women. Period. Anyone who says otherwise has their own issues to deal with. I’m sorry you’ve come across the negative comments that people don’t realize is a reflection of how they feel about themselves.”

‘Not Black Enough?

This narrative has sparked conversations about the challenges Black artists face, where the most prominent figures are often questioned about their “Blackness.”

For numerous years, Queen Bey has constantly emphasized and celebrated her Black identity, utilizing the powerful platform she has garnered. From her early solo career to the present, Beyoncé has consistently been a prominent advocate for the Black community.

One notable instance is her 2016 Super Bowl performance, where she paid homage to the late Michael Jackson and the Black Panther Party while delivering a powerful rendition of her single, “Formation.” During this time, she faced scrutiny, even being questioned about whether she was “Black enough” to undertake such a performance.

Queen Bey Has Always Embraced Her Blackness

Beyoncé’s creation of Lemonade further exemplified her commitment to portraying and honoring Black culture in the critically acclaimed film. In the film and through her lyrics, the Houston icon initiated her endeavor by paying tribute to southern culture such as her traditional roots from Louisiana and Texas.

Queen Bey also honored African-American women while also delving into African Traditional Religions (ATR), exemplified through her homage to the African Orisha, Oshun, in the visual for ‘Hold Up,’ where Beyoncé adorned herself entirely in yellow.

Additionally, the iconic 2018 Coachella performance, famously known as “Beychella,” stands as another testament to the iconic singer’s dedication to pushing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) culture to the forefront, celebrating the richness of Black tradition. 

Showing consistency in her craft, Bey’s album The Gift and the accompanying film, Black Is King, emerged as a spinoff from the live-action adaptation of The Lion King, where it not only featured numerous Black and African artists but also highlighted the essence of African Traditional Religions.

Then, in her latest project, Renaissance, the “Run The World” singer continues to cast a spotlight on the Black community, specifically the Black queer community, celebrating the depth in both her album and the accompanying film, Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé.

Michael Jackson Too?

Similarly, the late great  Michael Jackson was no stranger to scrutiny regarding his Blackness. 

Despite his physical Black appearance, Jackson’s skin underwent transformation due to the skin disorder called Vitiligo, leaving him to become lighter than he was. However many believed Michael “bleached” his skin because he wanted to appear as White and that he “hated” his racial identity.

He addressed these speculations during a 1994 interview with Oprah Winfrey, expressing his frustration with the spread of false narratives. The King Of Pop stated:

“I have a skin disorder the pigmentation of my skin. It is something I cannot help. When people make up stories that I don’t want to be who I am, it hurts me. It’s a problem for me. I can’t control it.”  

Dr. Umar Calls Out Rappers

While some individuals question the Blackness of prominent figures like Beyoncé, others within the black community have taken a different stance. Dr. Umar Johnson, for example, criticized certain rappers for promoting philanthropy while still rapping about violence, highlighting the hypocrisy within the hip-hop industry.

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Written by Yasmine Duhé

Yasmine Duhé, a Louisiana native, has always harbored a deep passion for music. She possesses a fervent love for creating and producing imaginative content that can be enjoyed by all.

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