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Mathew Knowles—the father of Beyoncé and Solange—has recently dropped his new book Racism From the Eyes of a Child, which dives headfirst into an intimate discussion about racism from the perspective of a young black man growing up in the South. As part of his promotional press tour, he sat down with Ebony magazine and—as The Root points out— ended up having a very interesting conversation about how colorism affected his life, his relationship with his ex-wife Tina Knowles Lawson, and his two daughters. By the end of the interview, Mathew asserts that Beyoncé, dripping with talent and success, made it this far partly because she is light-skinned.
Ebony writer Jessica Bennett asked Knowles to talk about the fact that so many black women pop stars are fair-skinned. “I challenge my students at Texas Southern to think about this,” he replied. “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 light-skinned,” Bennett answered.
“Do you think that’s an accident?” Knowles responded.
It’s no secret that Bey, Solange, and mama Tina are light-skinned: Mathew is making the point that they are given slightly more opportunities because they are so, a disputable perspective because they still do face challenges as black women in a public space.
In the same interview, Knowles also admits that he thought Ms. Tina was a white woman when he first met her and was “color-struck.” “I actually thought when I met Tina, my former wife, that she was White. Later I found out that she wasn’t, and she was actually very much in-tune with her blackness,” he said. “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.”
People on Twitter shared mixed reactions to Knowles comments. Some defended him and argued that Knowles perspective on colorism is valid.
Others argued that his comments are simply another attempt for Knowles to profit off of his daughters.
And some just commented on the struggle of discussing colorism at all, especially when the conversation centers around black women instead of men.
Read his full interview with Ebony here.