An Owner’s Manual to Race, Ethnicity and Nationality

by Janelle Harris

Let some Black folks tell it, there are certain people who are far above any kind of reproach, and even a whiff of fault-finding on your part will land you in the quagmire of a cuss-out: 1). Jesus, 2). Barack Obama, 3). Oprah, 4). Dr. King and 5). Beyoncé.

OK, so the last one might be a bit of a stretch, but there’s no denying that she’s got a very hearty, very loving, very vocal following who don’t take no mess when it comes to their Queen Bey love.

So let me first review some basic facts: Beyoncé is a singular pop cultural force. Beyoncé is stunningly gorgeous. But inasmuch as I applaud her rise from girl group lead singer (and some really unfortunate bedazzled outfits) to take her place in music icon infamy, Beyoncé got some issues with being Black, y’all.

First she was accused of giving the ol’ okie doke by allowing I don’t know how many pictures to be lightened, making her caramel complexion appear two shades paler than it actually is. That controversy has cropped up from photo shoots and album covers, but honestly, accidental whitewashing can only happen but so often before you have to raise an eyebrow and wonder how many times someone’s skin color can—oops!—be fortuitously Photoshopped down a shade or two. At the root of her latest dust-up: those darn L’Oreal True Match commercials that list her as “African American, French, and Native American.” Sigh. Why B, why?

The first time I saw it was also coincidentally the first time I ever used the rewind feature on my TV. (I don’t know. It just seems unnatural to be able to run back live programming.) I’ve got a ton of pet peeves—rusty, washed-up hustlers who try to lay their fossilized mack down on much younger bloggers, drivers who double park and mysteriously disappear into thin air like their two-way flashers somehow pardon their rudeness. But ranking up there on the list are people who try to make themselves more exotic by claiming to be a quarter-this and half-that and others who are so determined to run from being Black, they get all tangled and tripped up in race, ethnicity and nationality (for the record, a similar commercial featuring Jennifer Lopez only listed her as 100% Latina).

First of all, “French” is not a race. Or an ethnicity. Or anything that would require you to match a shade of makeup to it. France is a nation; therefore, “French” is a nationality, and there are about seven major ethnic groups in that country. Ergo, saying you’re “French” is just as generic as saying you’re “American” when you’re talking about a racial or ethnic context. (Not all countries work that way, though.) Her dad is Black, so I guess he makes up the African-American part. Her mother is Creole, a blend of Frech, African, Spanish and Native American settlers. But the word I do believe she was searching for was “White.”
But it’s not just her. For a lot of people, there seems to be a disconnect for the sake of not being just Black or Black at all. Not too long ago, I was having a conversation with my hairdresser, who is Dominican, and mentioned something in passing about being Black. She stopped styling, grasping a big ol’ chunk of my hair in mid-flat iron, and said rather crisply, “I’m not Black. I’m Dominican.”

I didn’t think it necessary to challenge her at that particular point in time. But let the record show that she is, somewhere along the line descended directly from somebody in Africa. Her hair texture, her skin color, her facial features all tell the story. I don’t know what’s so wrong with claiming and embracing Blackness anyway. I don’t see why more people don’t do it. It’s great.

The concepts of race and ethnicity are, for the most part, derived more from culture and society and history and even personal beliefs than biological findings. But the fact of that matter is they do exist. Denying them because you’re trying to start some kind of revolution is one thing. Denying them because you can’t fully embrace your heritage—especially if that heritage happens to come Africa—or reaching way, way, wayyyy back in your lineage to highlight some other part of your makeup when you know full well your most recent non-Black relative was seven generations removed is another. Race and ethnicity aren’t going anywhere. They’ll continue to define us in the foreseeable future because, well, that’s just the way things are. Just look at Beyoncé.

  • Jaslene

    When I saw that commercial I was thinking child please. If that’s what she wants to claim then let her. She is Black and is always going to be black nothing else. I liked Jennifer Lopez because she let us know straight up she was 100% Puerto Rican.

  • http://blackonpurpose.blogspot.com/ gryph

    i can’t wait for the first clutchette to shriek that that this ad isn’t about ‘race’.

  • apple

    um french can be noted in creole heritage because thats where it comes from , sure it make be different kind of the same flavor of vanilla but just like japanese and korean is apart of different countries of the same asia.. its still must be included because in Louisiana creole heritage –it was the french(and for some spanish,not in my family though) along with the native and black blood… which is what makes ACTUAL CREOLE..otherwise it wouldn’t be creole it would be something else. However in my family even though we are Creole, we know that we are black(, we have never denied that but we still acknowledge our culture/traditions of the past and present…

    as far as your hairdresser, now i saw Black in Latin America and one Dominican reporter/speaker? said that they are in serious self denial and completely disown their black heritage while honoring their Spanish hertiage, with the spanish didn’t even stay in DR but went back to their own countries.. but i have had a Dominican (darker than me) shout in my face “oh you mad cause you black” … so thats a horse of a different color (no pun)

    but i dont see why she couldn’t include it, however i dont know why the jennifer lopez version didnt say all of her mixes instead of “100% puerto rican”

  • girlwonder614

    Beyonce can try n hide sum other mixture of race amid her African American heritage, if she wants to, but when it all boils down, to racists, she’ll just be another black chick w/ money… ( I omitted the racial slur I initially put in, b/c I don’t want anyone to take it the wrong way)

  • HarlemB

    Well done. I too pushed the rewind button. I understand it is to pay great respect to both sides of her Heritage but…. We are know what it is. This issue isnt going anywhere fast and I love telling folks, esp those from spanish speaking countries, embrace you Latino culture however, you are a spanish speaking african. And for others, mixed with the natives, but also very much of african decent :) join us!

  • Xhosa_Girl

    The heading is misleading. You should have just titled this : Beyonce’s Apparent Hate For Being Black Is Keeping Me Up At Night!

  • kenzy

    PBS had special a few months back called black in latin america or soemthing of the sort and the whole dominican segment dealt with the fact that 97% of the country and people who have migrated to america do not consider themselves to be black. IM not talking about the “spanish” dominicans who look it im talking 97% of all the ones who clearly had an ancestor from the motherland…it just made me sad and look at dominicans differently but im on the west coast so there are none out here

  • anon25

    Isn’t that the problem the author is touching on? To my understanding, claiming you are Puerto Rican is the same as saying that you are American. It’s not a race.

  • arlette

    oh thats sad. this remindsme of some black girl who described herself as being mixed, i was curious so i asked her how. she said that her great grandad was white. i swear she almost bit my head off when i said she was technicaly black. no one is 100% anything especialy an american person concidering the history of the country.

  • arlette

    sorry about my spelling

  • Beautiful Mic

    Historically, French was a nationality. The indigenous people of France are Nordic Caucasian Basque peoples, which is an ethnic group and cultural identity.

    During the time period this ancestry came about Beyonce’s family timeline, the French people in America were their own ethnic grup. The French were, still, rather recent immigrants, as a group, in this country. This was during a time when the different immigrant groups from the different European countries weren’t as blended in bloodline and culture in this country. So, to me and in Beyonce’s case, French is both a nationality and ethnicity.

    French isn’t a way of saying you’re American. Most Americans have ancestries from immigrant European ethnic groups. At one point, these ancestors were not American. At one point in history, while they were living on the American continent, these ancestors were not American, they still carried the identities of their perspective European root countries/linguistic/ethnic groups.

    The Black phenotype spectrum in America includes the White phenotype. Some notable examples of this include: Adam Clayton Powell, Jr; Fredi Washington and Walter Francis White.

    If this is the case, why the criticism about Beyonce and her varying skin tone? First of all, if she’s mixed in ancestry her natural skin tone may very well range from quite/very pale to golden tan/light brown. Her inherited undertones may naturally allow her to photography lighter at times depending on the lighting applied.

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BEING ALL BLACK, not in America. Especially if we’re equating being ALL BLACK with being fully sub-Saharan African in ancestry, there is mostly no African descended person in the Americas who is all black. In the Americas, specifically the United State, inclusion into the Black race has always been defined by the One Drop Rule. That means, aside from the one drop of sub-Saharan ancestry that, historically, had been the only ancestry people were allowed to acknowledge we have other ancestries unacknowledged. This unacknowledged ancestry, truly, makes us mixed race in ancestry.

    We’re mostly all Black and mixed race, at the same time. And this spans across the entire Black color/phenotype spectrum which is very BROAD – primarily because of The One Drop Rule.

    Also, in some cultures, sub-culture, identities, Black does not equate to being African in ancestry. You applied the example of someone being from the Dominican Republic. People from that country know they have West/Central African ancestry, even though the overall cultural implications imply that they shun this. The mostly dark and brown in phenotype Garifuna people acknowledge their African ancestry and heritage, which is a prominent aspect of their cultural identity, do not consider themselves Black either.

    I think Blacks in America have a tendency to disregard historical and cultural perspectives about race, ethnicity and nationality among African descendants rooted in non-Black American culture, which includes many sub-cultures and sub-identities within the United States.

    The way many Blacks go about trying to impose their definitions about race and identity on others is rather imperialistic and should stop. People of sub-Saharan African ancestry, all over the world, we’ve already succumb to this imposition, which is why we have all these different cultural, ethnic, etc… dispositions today. We should allow each other to be who we are, which isn’t always Black. Let’s all be responsible enough to take a deeper look at other cultures and sub-cultures to understand why all people of African descent aren’t considered Black, and why it’s ridiculous to argue that lightened skin shades and altered phenotype via photography makes one ashamed to be Black.

    If anything, this topic is more about White beauty ideals than anything else. If the White phenotype is part of the Black, Asian, Latino, Native American phenotypes (which it is), this issue stems beyond trying to accuse someone of being ashamed of their race by acknowledging their personal, and individual, ancestry/heritage.

    We’re not all the same.

  • Beautiful Mic

    The problem isn’t with Beyonce, how she looks, has her looks altered or her claiming of her heritage, the problem is the historical system of racial accounting and how race is applied today.

    That’s the issue. Address the issue from there because, historically and today, people have been forced to exist under these racial classifications in a reality not fully accounted for by this system of racial accounting.

    Yes, it’s inaccurate TODAY, and it has ALWAYS been inaccurate!

  • Beautiful Mic

    Image if the person in the ad were her cousin Angela Beyince – same family and bloodline. What if Beyonce had her cousin Angela’s phenotype and was consistently photograph with the same brown skin tone and non-altered physical traits.

    Would she be wrong in acknowledging this ancestry? It’s her ancestry. Why shouldn’t she be proud of it.

    Be proud of your own ancestry.

    We aren’t all exactly the same.

  • Beautiful Mic

    ^ Image should be imagine.

  • Beautiful Mic

    ^ The first sentence in my first post should be

    “Historically, Historically, French was a ethnic group.”

  • BeautyIAM

    But I thought that is why so many of her stans like her…because she’s “black” but not “too black.” I saw her barbie doll and it looked like a White barbie doll. Beyonce is as famous as she is because of her racial admixture. That is how she has always been marketed and its not going to stop. So this commercial is not a shock.

  • apple

    And all this time I thought it was her undeniable talent,her longevity and her positive image

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    Can I just keep it one hunded…..
    1.) to white folks….she is BLACK-whether straight from the motherland or American bred, she still BLACK
    2.) to black folks…she is BLACK-she may claim all these other heritages to suit her, don’t nobody give a damn….she still BLACK
    3.) to other folks (Asian, Pacific)….she is BLACK-
    4.) to African Mami…..girl STOP! You is BLACK

    In summary-STOP IT! Just be great at what you do-being an entertainer. Stop with the sociological and anthropological references. Let them be great at what they do! They’d still reference you as BLACK

  • http://cupofjo-jo.blogspot.com bk chick

    look I usually claim I’m Black but make sure I emphasize my Carribbean heritage cuz both parents were born and raised overseas which is a very diff experience growing up, particular living in a bilingual household which is not a purely American experience. That being said I also know that I’m black and have no problem claiming that,,I can say I’m also “french, blah blah” because of a great parent but that’s wayy too far back..no point in saying all that.

    My primary issue with the commercial is that just because Bey may be mixed with all that, it DOES NOT predict her phenotype. A person can be directly mixed, half and half, with “French” and “African American” and STILL come out darker than Beyonce. Therefore the commercial is false and the reasoning behind mentioning the background becomes moot. IT just doesn’t make sense

  • Acosta

    Um, seriously? Why are we disputing what Beyonce actually is? Her racial mixture is what it is, why should she deny it? I honestly think this is why America’s view of darker-skinned Americans remains so one dimensional…it’s the one “dimensionality” we force on ourselves.

  • Acosta

    And for the record, someone here mentioned the Garafuna. I am Garafuna and I am pretty sure they identify as Black. I list myself as half Black and half Puerto Rican. No, Puerto Rican is not a race, but my father is mestizo.

  • Tonton Michel

    @African Mami

    Thank you, how you see your self and how the world sees you is another matter. The one thing that ties all black people is that same African heritage that some try to run from, (or claim when convenient to them), no one points out every nook and cranny of their blood line unless they are trying to distant themselves from that on particular black spot in their gene code. No other group would sit their and say I am mixed with this or that unless specifically asked they would go the Lopez route and point to their nationality. All Beyonce had to say is I am an All American girl.

  • http://musedmagonline.com Drew-Shane

    Right on my sister! I totally agree. Perception is reality and that is not how they perceive her, us or we’z.

    I do think the title was a little misleading, should have just thrown Beyonce’s name up in there. We get it.

  • WHAT THE HELL?

    WTF IS EVERYONE BITCHING ABOUT ? HOW IS THIS OFFENSIVE ? IT’S HER GENETIC MAKE-UP, SO FUCKING WHAT ?

  • Alexandra

    When I saw the commercial I wasn’t necessarily shocked. She is mixed. Whats the problem? I don’t follow Beyonce much, but to my knowledge she has never identified herself as ‘Black’. She has always emphasized that she is: Creole, which she has every right to claim and be proud of. I think arguments like  is why ‘some’ mixed race people (half Black/African) take out their racial frustrations on Black people. I never understood why it bothers Black people how a mixed person identifies.  

    It is true that a racist, or narrow-minded person may view her as something other than what she claims. But why should she view herself as how others perceive her?
    I think people should stop viewing race from the racist American point of view. One-drop never existed in many colonized countries. So if a ‘dark’ individual, especially one who is not American sees them self as something other than how you see them, shouldn’t you be the one to check your own views? I also wonder how certain Black people think they’re experts on how non-Blacks view mixed and/or Black people. I know a lot of people who aren’t Black who can tell the difference. How else could one divide a race on skin color? Discrimination?

  • Mimi

    @TonTon, she couldn’t say she was an “all American girl” because that’s not what the advertising campaign is about. Its a makeup brand that’s trying to say that no matter what race you are, we have a shade that can match your skin tone. I personally chuckled when I first saw her commercial because I always laugh whenever people try to say that they are 1/10 creole or 1/20th white. While I did have a little bit of an issue with the commercial, I have a much BIGGER issue with her and all that photoshopping in her photographs. Beyonce is a big enough star to have editorial control over anything with her image on it and some of the pics lately have been lightened significantly.

    I do give props to J. Lo for not going that route and proudly admitting that she is 100% Puerto Rican. But what I’ve found is that Latinos in general are more proud of their heritage and will let you know in a hot second what race they are. I have a friend who is Mexican but she looks white and she gets so upset whenever someone calls her white. I once heard her say rather loudly (in an office no less), I AM NOT WHITE!!!! I AM MEXICAN!!!! It was actually kinda funny when she did it, but I totally respect her proudness. (I know that’s not a word)

  • Joan

    I agree. I just don’t see the issue. And it’s not as if she’s not mentioning being black or African American at all. At the most, she’s being silly, but do I think she is another Tiger Woods? Naw. To me, it seems as if she is acknowledging all parts of her heritage (that she knows of). I don’t see what is wrong with that. Just because a racist society decided to label all people with a drop of African blood in them as just black, that does not mean that we are destined to follow the same racist ways of thinking. (And I see nothing wrong with being “just black”, but there seems to be a whole lot of resentment among black folks about black people who acknowledge other parts of themselves.) She is embracing all parts of herself, just as Paula Abdul did in the 90′s when she was telling everyone (when they asked “what are you”) that she was “Brazilian-Syrian-French-Canadian.” I don’t know if Beyonce has a problem with being black…I have no way of knowing that. Does a person who claims other things in addition to being black automatically have a problem with being black? Or are they abandoning old ways of thinking? Also, the whole skin lightening thing? I don’t know about that, either. I am considered “light-skinned” and under certain lighting, I look really pale in photos. It happens to me a lot. Same with my daughter. Maybe that’s what’s happening to her? When she starts verbally excluding the black part of herself, speaking only French (bet her a$$ doesn’t even know the language… LOL) and leaves Jay-Z for a white man, then I might start to raise an eyebrow.

  • Reason

    Then you were wrong, Apple.

  • http://www.DCAfterWork.com AlesiaMichelle

    Amen! My friend and I were side-eyeing this commercial like crazy. It is good to know we weren’t the only ones. I have 2 great grandmothers that were Native American and White… No Black at all, but they married Black men. Guess what?! I’m Black I don’t claim anything but Black. Why? All Black people have some White and Native American in them. It is what makes us African-American. Don’t forget that there were Native American slaves too. And we all know the the overseers and slave masters couldn’t keep their hands off their slave women…

    Black doesn’t just mean African decent and African decent alone…

  • mel

    It seems like people do not know black is a Color. I am Trinidadian, that is my country of birth and whatever cultural norms I follow is a result of my environment. I am not black. I am not a color. Its insultating to label a human being by the color of their skin. We do not even do that to dogs. Such an insult to people.

  • Tiffy

    I have an aquaintance like that also, her great granddad is white and he’s still living i met him. So she is kinda mixed but she knows she black. To me at the end of the day the world sees u as black so ppl like Beyonce need to accept it and get over it. I feel like all this claiming of our multi cultural roots is fine in situations like the article with Blair Underwood but in everyday life it just furthers problems for our people. dominicans, brazillians etc can keep being in denial but black ppl in America need to embrace our African roots thats what the world sees and we shouldnt be ashamed of who we are

  • d_nicegirl

    I agree. I was slightly disappointed when I saw her spot. I was even more disappointed when I saw JLo’s. Why did Beyonce feel that she had try to ration away her Blackness? Sad that with all the money in the world and acclaim, a person can still maintain such core self hatred.

  • Bosslady

    I didn’t like this advert. As someone already noted J Lo’s was even more bizarre as Latina’s are probably the most racially mixed people on this planet, so 100% Puerto Rican means nothing with regards to here race, but whatever…

  • Nkem

    What does it mean to be black?
    I feel like many individuals have a construed perception of what the term being black is. The term black has come to be demonized that rarely anyone wants to be associated with it. Yes, many individuals who are called “black” do not have solely African ancestry but that’s the beauty of being black. The fact that Black is a representation a whole spectrum of colors and features. I FEEL that when people take it a part to bring up the fact that their great great great whatever was something other than black they want to further separate themselves from the black community. Like it has been said earlier in the comments at the end of the day the rest of the world will still see you as black.

  • Bren82

    Is Beyonce denying her blackness or is she acknowledging her other heritages in addition to being black? From many comments I’ve read, a lot of people think that Beyonce is denying her blackness. However I feel that if she was denying her blackness, she would not have mention it. Period. I’ve also noticed that we as black/African-Americans seem to be the only ones who continue having an issue/continue to struggle with black people acknowledging their non-black heritages instead of embracing just one while other ethnic groups don’t seem to have much issue with claiming their mutiple heritages, if present. Maybe that is why we continue to struggle with getting ahead: because we are concerning ourselves with trivial things such as complaining about someone acknowledging their ethnic heritages as if their decision to do so will somehow affect our lives. We should concern ourselves more with matters negatively affecting our communities such as poverty, terrible schools and poor food choices which contribute to poor health. There is nothing wrong with Beyonce acknowledging her ethnic makeup. I think that the commenters are envious haters because we now live in a society where multi-ethnic individuals are no longer ashamed of their make-up and proudly celebrate it. These commenters are uncomfortable with who they are because if they weren’t they would not be threatened by an ad for a product they probably don’t use anyway. Yes, I agree that Beyonce’s skin being lightened when she is clearly not that light was ridiculous however people have a right to celebrate who they are and should not be made to feel ashamed. I am black and although I acknowledge that I have some mixture, I am proud of who I am and don’t claim anything else because it is too far back. Opinions are opinions and that is all that they will ever be. Be your own poster child for blackness. Be your own role model and stop expecting it from someone else.

  • http://theputonputon.tumblr.com Trey

    I swear we all need lessons in nationality v. race v. ethnicity. Beyonce IS FrenchNativeAmericanAfricanamerican AND Black (or black and white respectively), these things r not mutually exclusive. NOW. i know the inability for most black descendants of american slaves to identify our specific individual ethnic group sucks. Most of us would have to dig way deep to figure out our true ethnicities, but in my opinion, if a black person knows where they’re ancestors are actually from (i.e beyonces mama’s people), I have no prob with them claiming it as their ethnicity. The problem is that Americans have used race & ethnicity interchangeably for a while now, which is hella confusing & oftentimes destructive. That being said, I can only identify myself as American and Black for the time being…I have no idea what ethnicities I could note, as I don’t really share a common heritage, language or culture with Africans. But if I ever find out my true ethnicity, and it doesn’t happen to be African, it won’t mitigate my blackness or firm place within the diaspora.

  • rosie

    The “if I have to be black then so do you” mentality needs to die. That along with “blacker thou” and the “I claim ‘just black’ so that makes me real.” Beyonce’s just as accepting of her African heritage as any regular black American woman.

    Like someone else said, JLo’s ad was weirder and the entire campaign was not well executed, but let’s just dump all the criticism on beyonce since there’s nothing else to do, right?

  • Ms. Information

    Because of the nature of slavery, most black Americans are “mixed” in some kind of way. However, being “mixed” has also indicated some form of separation from the group. The closer you are to “white” the more your features were praised. It’s almost like being mixed is a badge of honor. Most of us have Indian heritage, white heritage et cetera. It would have done the black community a major service if Beyonce claimed what she is, a black woman. She’s attempting to separate herself from being “black” to show some form of elevated position. Beyonce please…your name is Beyonce..the most ghetto name of any star out today..

  • LemonNLime

    People have every right to identify themselves the they want but everyone else around them has that same right. Beyonce and those who are constantly throwing out that they are mixed have every right to say so. Just like the people who have one black granparent and pass for white or at least ambiguous say they are black. It is the same thing but I am going to identify them the way I see them. Beyonce can be as mixed as she wants to be but African Mami said it best, “1.) to white folks….she is BLACK-whether straight from the motherland or American bred, she still BLACK, 2.) to black folks…she is BLACK-she may claim all these other heritages to suit her, don’t nobody give a damn….she still BLACK
    3.) to other folks (Asian, Pacific)….she is BLACK.”

    Personally, I’m a black American. I have two black parents. To me being a black American denotes that you are mixture of stuff, so I don’t have to list is all, some which I may not know, like a bingo card. I am not African American. Personally, I don’t understand why so many black people feel the need to for others to identify as black. And don’t give me any crap about the “one-drop” rule. That was a rule created by whites so that they could keep the descendents of slaves that they raped. They also had rules stating we were only 3/5 of a person and I don’t hear anyone championing that all the damn time. Personally I am happy to see more and more biracial people identify as such because they aren’t black. They are half black.

    In the end I really don’t care, I am not buying that make up anyway and I have other things to worry about other than what people decide to call themselves. While I have my opinions on the subject, so long as they aren’t messing up my scholarship chances I don’t care.

  • iQgraphics

    whats the problem with identifying with where you are from? (or your parents)
    J Lo is Puerto Rician and THAT’S FINE.
    Its a place on a map where either she was born or her parents were from and has family etc. They have a language and a culture that is theirs.

    Your beautician is Dominican, she’s not black. She’s dominican. She and/or her family are from the Dominican Republic. They have a culture and language that is theirs.

    What’s wrong with that?

    Beyonce is just plain stupid.
    If she’s african american and CREOLE, than that’s what she is. I don’t know which control panel on the marketing machine made her break down what Creole actually is… So she didn’t mention that she is African american twice… because it cancels out or some weird industry math.

    Beyonce and her brand are definitely the equivalent of white washing. (and stupidity)

    But to knock J. Lo and your beautician is not fair.

    Everybody DOES NOT identify with africa. AND THAT’S OKAY.

    Breathe and get your roller set.

  • apple

    there is a white version of this commerical where the woman says she australia,irish and some other kind of white (maybe dutch) …so besides j.lo maybe that was the goal?

  • jamesfrmphilly

    FWIW : i’m black yall……

  • NOTRIGHT

    It’s crazy how if someone is 1% black they MUST claim Black or they hate themselves, if a phenotypically Black person claims a part of their white or other heritage they hate themselves cuz “everybody else think u look black so why u gotta bring it up”… Amazing. Beyonce has always said she was creole, she even has a song called I’m creole and creole is a mixture of Black, French & Native American. Chill out.

  • binks

    Amen! Beyonce was riding this ambiguous identity from the start of her career for what reason who knows, but I don’t know why people are shocked now. Not to long ago Clutch published an article about white beauty being uplifted by nicki minij due to her miarilyn Monroe song but Beyonce always takes the cake in that regards. There is nothing wrong with identifing with your racial heritage “all of it” but keep it in perspective. Like someone said being African American means you can be comprise of these ethnicities regardless. And as for the Creole bit…um most Creole people I know say or identity as black “even the ones who can seriously pass for white” and their are brown/dark skin creole people so the argument people try to use is null and void. Personally I don’t like this ad and don’t see where it or the company was going with it his dies this apply to some damn foundation?

  • http://beautyisdiverse.com Beauty Is Diverse

    “Her mother, a Louisiana Creole, has African, French, Native American, and Irish ancestry; she is a descendant of Acadian leader Joseph Broussard.”

    “Agnèz Deréon was born on July 1, 1909 in Delcambre, Louisiana, a town near the city of New Iberia, Louisiana.Deréon was the daughter of Eugène Gustave “Eugenie” DeRouen (1884–1940) and Odilia Broussard (Daughter of E.R. Broussard (of white French ancestry) and Josephine Lesser (of Creole ancestry, who was quarter African American)”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Broussard – Joseph Gaurhept Broussard (1702–1765), also known as Beausoleil, was a leader of the Acadian people in Acadia; later Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

    “Descendancy -Broussard’s descendants include that of Célestine Knowles (née Beyincé), her two daughters Beyoncé and Solange, and also that of their children”

    I don’t know Beyonce personally but it’s obvious that her family has detailed records of their family lineage and she has every right to acknowledge them.

  • SWGH

    LMBAO @ “accidental whitewashing”!!!

  • iQgraphics

    i like this ^^

  • edub

    In my best ne ne voice…bloop bloop

  • Dalili

    Oh boy! Does how Beyoncé choose to identify herself really matter that much in the grand scheme of things? I’m not a fan by any stretch of the imagination, but am a little baffled by the negative reaction to her ad. Besides I think it’s tame compared to her L’Officiel-France homage to African queens photo shoot last year. Now that was a mess!

  • Leo the Yardie Chick

    Sounds like L’Oreal is trying to pull the same polyethnic marketing tactic as Carol’s Daughter. We’ll see how that works.

    I see both sides of the argument, though. On one hand, Beyonce will be seen as Black in a world that insists on classifying people by ‘race’, no matter what. That does not mean that she should not acknowledge all facets of her ancestry. On the other hand, I can’t ignore that whenever a Black person (especially a woman) makes it big in the media, others insist that they have to be mixed with something other than black in order to explain why they’re so beautiful/handsome/intelligent/etc, and that’s why the world would gravitate towards them.

  • whowantstoknow

    Even after reading the article, I see that many of you still don’t understand the concepts of race, ethnicity, culture and nationality.

  • Anneliese

    HAHAHA Jlo= 100% puerto rican

    why not : african/native/spanish ?

    the other woman is just “white” :australian/irish/italian

    of course the black girl, Beyonce …

  • Regina Grant

    This article is laughable and poorly executed. The commercial with Jennifer Lopez does not list her as Latina which is offensive to some it list her as 100% Puerto Rican. My mothers family is primarily Native American should I denounce that for the sake of being black enough. When you write and article you should do enough research to know what it is you are speaking about. You obviously did not. You wrote this from a position of personal opinion and not an actual look at her lineage. This argument is why little girls and boys in our communities struggle with their identity. We all should be proud of our ancestry as it lends to why our skin is so varied and features so beautiful and our history so rich. I never hear people talk about magazines the darken the people who are on the cover. Alicia Keys is very fair skinned but on black magazine covers she appears tanned and golden. Beyonce’s hue is also lighter than people think she tans like Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys and many other stars whose complexions appear to be something it’s not. I am not excusing magazines for making changes but I chose not to let any of them off the hook for this practice. I am offended by writers who interject their own insecurities into their writings and then call it journalism. It is sensationalism and Beyonce while deserving of some criticism is usually the one that takes the bulk of them. Gabourey Sidibe’s Elle cover was more blatant and obvious and yet she receives no criticism. In fact I listened to people who talk about how they felt sorry for her that this was done. We got to do better!

  • Regina Grant

    I apologize for the typos. I was writing out of frustration and not editing well.

  • blackwarriorqueen

    I am just as much Creole/Mulatto/Mestizo (one of mixed ancestry, African, Native American and Irish) as Beyonce if not more. Because I am not 100% pure African, which is quite unfortunate, I just keep it simple by saying I am Black. Most “Black” Americans are of mixed ancestry, with the common denominator being that we are all a part of African diaspora. For the record, I am 100% Black and Proud.

  • iQgraphics

    Maya Rudolph should have done this commercial for her, as her…

  • NOTRIGHT

    Agree witcha all the way. Obviously I don’t know you, but I just have to say from your comments I like the way u think

  • Mina

    “First she was accused of giving the ol’ okie doke by allowing I don’t know how many pictures to be lightened, making her caramel complexion appear two shades paler than it actually is. That controversy has cropped up from photo shoots and album covers, but honestly, accidental whitewashing can only happen but so often before you have to raise an eyebrow and wonder how many times someone’s skin color can—oops!—be fortuitously Photoshopped down a shade or two. At the root of her latest dust-up: those darn L’Oreal True Match commercials that list her as “African American, French, and Native American.” Sigh. Why B, why?”
    Janelle Harris, I think the point of the matter is is that you forgot that she is being sponsored by L’Oreal, a company that obviously has a problem with Black people and Brown people. That’s why they hire white looking blacks and Latinas to sponsor their products. If you’re too dark, you’ll get photoshopped to the max. They don’t see J.Lo as being too Latina or too Puertorican. She’s like a gringa to them. Beyonce isn’t even seen as Black because she’s Creole. Ooh la la, so exotic she is. There’s other black spokeswomen who are sponsored by L’Oreal but their ads aren’t commericalized or favorited because the women are too dark looking. Kerry Washington is a spokesmodel for L’Oreal but the only time you see her being featured is in a magazine. Never on TV. Audiences worldwide don’t want to see a black face featured as being beautiful. They think that’s not possible, that’s not true. That’s why they hire Aishwarya Rai, Frieda Pinto, Penelope Cruz, and Eva Longoria to market their products. Aishwarya and Frieda target the Indian community, Penelope and Eva the Latina/Spanish community, and Beyonce for the Black and now, the Native American community. They are NOT going to hire anyone dark brown or too ethnic looking to market their products.
    And just to be clear, all of the above that you mention was the results of L’Oreal!!! The lightened photos were of her ad campaigns for L’Oreal. Everytime she does a photoshoot for them, she is paler than Antarctica. We do live in an age where being mixed is glamorized! If she wants to showcase herself as something exotic or other than black, that’s her issue. If she wants to acknowledge all of her cultures within her, she should be allowed to do so as well and not be accused of self racism. That does not mean she hates her race. Not to mention, you also forgot to mention the Jennifer Lopez commercial for the L’Oreal True Match where she is identified as being 100% Puerto Rican. And also for the Aimee Mullins who said she was Austrian, Irish, and Italian. Funny how all of those are nationalities and ethnicities and not racial categories but for Beyonce, She is given Black, Native, and French. 2 races, 1 nationality as if she was born in France or something. Her ethnicity is Creole but her racial background is triracial. How can she identify with being just one race when she’s tri-racial anyway? Just saying.

  • A Mixed Girl

    I don’t know what the problem is. She’s half Creole. However she choses to define it who are we to judge? That is how SHE identifies. Sure, if you ask 100 people what race Beyonce is, most (if not all) will say “black.” But there may be other pieces to her ethnicity that she feels are important, so I think people need to respect that.

    I don’t understand why some people feel the need to tell other people how they should identify. I’m half black/half white and no matter how I identify, there is always someone telling me it’s wrong. If I say I’m biracial, then I am apparently “ashamed of my black heritage.” If I claim black, someone will be quick to point out “you’re not black, you’re mixed” or call me a “white girl” as if I’m not black enough for them. There comes a point where you just gotta decide for yourself how you identify and to hell with what others think about it.

    I don’t think Beyonce needs to renounce her Creole heritage and I really don’t understand why people get so offended by it.

  • http://www.dumbniggers.com seriously?

    nobody wants to be black. why should they? all black people do is try to tear down others. beyonce is what she is…her real color is GREEN (as in, more money than all of you).

    stop hating (yourselves).

  • Yb

    You tell black folks to stop hating themselves, then in the same breath state no one should want to be black, while promoting a website in your screen name link called “dumbniggers.”

    stop contradicting(YOURself) troll

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    @ Drew Drew

    HHHHHHHHeeeeeeeeeeeey!!!!! I’m loving your magazine!!!!! Congrats brother…Can I contribute ONE article…I swear to write in Oxford English, no typos, and very very thought provoking, nothing to do with Africa-errrmmm..yeah!

  • Pula

    I think people should identify as they wish, her mother’s side is obviously creole (they didn’t need to put the french part, it’s already implied). I’m on a DNA website, and white people do claim any black, native american, middle eastern or “exotic” European ancestry(g-g-g parents and what not), I don’t see how it’s any different for a black people to do the same. Oh, and Beyonce did not hide her African heritage it’s the 1st ethnicity listed. On the other hand, I found out that I have recent Roma ancestry and of course certain relatives obviously wanted to hide this fact, because the roma or “gypsies” are plagued with awful stereotypes. Now this is what it means to be “hiding” or “distancing” yourself from a group of people, by not mentioning them at all!

    On the commercial, I don’t think they did much to “lighten” her skin either. If you are tan, olive or whatever mid tone range there are gonna be seasons when your skin appears to be lighter or darker. My face is also paler than the rest of my body, and probably more so with make up on (flash whitens the make up even more than without it).

  • Yulez

    LemonNLime, we are perpetually on the same page. Diggin it! Black American and no qualms about it.

  • B

    Doesn’t “African American” include European and/or Native American ancestry – at least if that label is referring to the descendants of black slaves in the U.S.? That’s part of why the list was off to me. It may not be evident from everyone’s face, but, to some degree, everyone is mixed including “African Americans.”

  • http://labombebaby.wordpress.com TAE

    Phenotype, complexion, ethnicity, nationality, culture…. I like to hear people talking in terms like this because this is what it’s really about. We all know that we are all one race, one global family, yet we are many different tribes with distinct and separate cultures and distinct physical characteristics that are used as markers of delineation between us. I think this is a good thing, variety is the spice of life. People are like flowers, and ALL flowers are beautiful. Now in terms of this article, “black” folks are heated around this issue of self-classification in regards to representation of ethnicity because as I like to say, in this country, black is not right unless it has a little bit , or a whole lot of white( or something else) in it. African- American’s who have “visible” admixture are more attractive than those who do not and the presence of admixture is usually determined by phenotype and complexion.

    I visit a biodiversity forum that is really enlightening as the people there discuss race in terms of phenotype, nationality, DNA strains, the works. While reading a thread dedicated to “Real, Beautiful, Black Women” I was surprised to find all the different phenotypes and complexions that were representative of “real” African (Black) beauty, ie Algerians vs Kenyans vs Malagasi vs Cape Verdeans vs Congolese vs Nigerians vs Somalians vs Eritreans, Those from the horn of Africa in relation to those from Sub-Saharan Africa in relation to those from East and West Africa, it was a fascinating mind-blowing experience and I urge you, if you have not already done so, to start doing research on Africa and all the different countries, cultures, and people therein. Find some pictures, look at the diversity. As most threads go the was some debate among the posters as to which women were best representative of “real black beauty” A man who described himself as Nordic made the comment that the most stunning black women are the ones who have OBVIOUS ADMIXTURE. This of course pissed a lot of people off and there was some back and forth between him and another poster who identified herself as Afro-Iranian. So Mr. Nordic asked her to show him a beautiful black woman who was purely NEGROID, and as the discussion went further he equated negroid-ness to SUB-SAHARAN AND/OR WEST AFRICAN FEATURES.

    THAT is the heart of this debate about race. It seems to me that those in the African Diaspora with physical characteristics that are more readily classified as sub-Saharan or West African, broader features though not exclusively so, are placed in the ugly box, the inferior box, the unworthy, unpretty, unacceptable box, and that is why many of our brothers and sisters are frustrated, upset, and hurting because they have been deemed the ugly stepchildren of the “black race”. And the preference for “fine” features is evident in other ethnic groups and cultures as well, so this debate is also very much about the effects of colonialism as well. I leave you on this note, check this video on YouTube entitled ‘Black Women are Envious of The Native Phenotype’ it speaks volumes and illustrates my point much better than this post. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVOm7l3E0B0

  • Megan

    Oh please! I think that black people are going to have to admit that they have white in them. I’m like Beyonce, I’m a mix of ten things. My brothers look white and my sister and I look black/hispanic. My mother is only Norwegian/Swedish. My father is Jamaican and mixed like her mother. I was picked by my black family to be the black one and harassed all my life for admitting my nordic heritage. My brothers who are the same blood as me are left alone. I think you are all going to have to realize one day that nobody is black or white. We are all mixed up in America, the slaves were raped by whites so they are white.

  • Apollo

    I think the problem lies in convenience. While nothing is wrong with embracing your ethnicity or tracing your lineage, it seems it is convenient to be strictly one race in one instance and multiple races in another. I think that’s where the offense lies. Again, there is nothing wrong with embracing your ethnicity or race, but it becomes offensive to some when you’re downplaying one aspect of your self over another more aesthetically pleasing one to seemingly distance your self from a lessor race or to just get ahead.

  • BlacknAmazed

    Well. I’m Black. and Black is Black. end of discussion. nothing to discuss, debate or talk about. If you are NOT black then you re not…nothing to talk about, discuss or debate. PERIOD.

  • Tumaini

    I found that ad so annoying and offensive. Honestly, I have been feeling for a while like I may have to start boycotting Beyonce’s music, in addition to Chris Brown’s..just out of principle. smh.

  • Isis

    Interesting comments. The only thing i have to call out is The lie that all black americans are mixed. Wrong!!! Both my parents are black. I am not mixed

  • apple

    i agree with @seriously, maybe not everybody but ALOT of people, why else would you get articles like this, or constantly hear about , or watch things like black in latin america and see it, or people constantly distance themselves from it..

    i dont think its being black per se, but rather the effect being black has on you..i’m sure if being black was viewed on a whole as how being white is viewed (by society and the world), everyone would want to be black..then it would be alot of people trying to say they mixed with black instead of everything else.

  • CaramelBeauty

    I agree. I can’t understand that in this day and age there are still blacks who refuse to accept their heritage and fully embrace all the good there is about it. White is NOT better. These people need to take some afrocentric classes in college and learn about the greatness that black is. I hate people who hate themselves. That, to me is the equivalent of being a murderer or child molester.

    This is 2012, when are you people going to learn to love yourselves? You have to learn to fight all the conditioning that we’ve been subjected to. Learn to re-think all that negative crap we have been given and embrace the beauty that is ours!!!!!! Get a backbone already!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    It’s funny (not “ha ha” but interesting) that you picked up on this as I did as well when I saw the print ad. Though I’ve yet to properly research my geneaology, due to Louisiana roots and my mom’s French-ish maiden name and a grandma who is either 1/2 or 1/4 Iroquois, I grew up proclaiming my French and Native American roots as well. It didn’t dawn on me until I was older that this tradition, which has been handed down by family inadvertently may have something to do with whitewashing. Ironically, on the one hand, a survey of Bey’s geneaology might truly reveal those other “ingredients.” While, for all intents and purposes, as far as I know, white actors generally deem themselves as such, when probed, they will say “I’m a quarter Irish, part German, etc., etc.” In other words, to an extent and from an objective standpoint, Bey is justified. On the other, in light of our history as African-Americans, the color complex, etc., unfortunately, as you point out, this delineation of her lineage smacks of an attempt to dilute her blackness. Likewise, that intent behind proclaiming other parts of our heritage is, unfortunately, pretty common in our community at large. Even so, won’t it be great if/when the day comes that one’s – let me fix that, a black woman’s – assertion of the parts that make her whole don’t have to be so loaded? That we could look at it and go “hmm … ok” instead of (understandably) feeling like it’s a betrayal or an expression of self-hatred (to some degree or another)?

  • cake211

    Thank you!! I don’t understand the issue with the “french, af-am, and native” title if she’s creole. which heritage is she denying by using those terms? And yes, Bey is caramel colored, by ONLY because she has to try to be caramel. Her natural skin color is PALE olive-toned. She is not naturally brown!
    I remember an article in Sister 2 Sister magazine a loonngg time ago when Destiny’s Child first got popular, they had a photo of all the members with no makeup on. I’ll never forget that picture because I was amazed at how WHITE Beyonce really was! While I can understand allegations of “skin-lightening” by the powers-that-be, I also realize that she is just really light.
    Also, I think this article, and many articles like this, while they have completely valid points, they perpetuate the thinking that light-skinned people are “evil”. It’s like their ethnicity and race and their identity must constantly be questioned cuz you know “they wish they were white” or “they hate being black”.

  • Pula

    Are you 100% (insert any non North African country here..you know like Nigeria, Ghana Senegal etc)? Did you do a genetic test?

    If you are African American or from the West Indies, you are probably up to around 20% European no matter how dark your complexion is or how kinky your hair is. Blacks of the diaspora are “mixed”, genes don’t lie.

  • BrooklynZoe

    1. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but being Creole is more of a heritage and not really a
    race.
    2. All Black people have some White and Native American blood in them so I really don’t
    understand why some black people have to announce it the world with joy. There is
    nothing wrong with honoring your roots but really… how many whites and
    other races claim black in them? None. And they won’t ever. But oh they will brag about
    their ancestors being slave owners, and the plantation house that has been in their
    family for generations.

    I

  • theMuseintheMirror

    Well…well…Beyonce, join the club! I am also African American, Native American and Creole (My paternal grandma father was a french man, her mother native american)! But I know my dad is as black as the beautiful serene midnight sky. I am a medium dark skinned person (if that makes any sense).

    I don’t look like Beyonce. But I probably do have just as much “french blood” as she does.

    I was kind of thrown off by that commercial too…it just didn’t sit well…however in the same breath, I do get slightly frustrated when I’m with a group of white people and their talking about each other’s ethnicities and never asks about mine. Because they already assume that I’m “just a black”.

  • theMuseintheMirror

    Ooops! I mean *they’re talking about….

  • wow

    You know what’s really sad, majority of the black people who are hating on Beyonce are hypocrites.

    1)Every time Beyonce is featured in any Black magazine, there are always comments about her not being “black enough” and not representing the everyday black women. There are always people who claim Beyonce is “too white-looking” because she has “eurocentric” features. They act like if black people do not come in a variety of phenotypes. They bash her, claiming they want to see more dark-skin celebrities, because apparently only dark-skin is true black. Now your saying black is black–haha wow–but you didn’t know this from before. OK!

    2) You weren’t embracing Beyonce’s blackness, so why should you expect her to embrace it. Not to mention, it is what it is. Beyonce’s mother is obviously creole. I don’t think anyone what argue about that. So its only logical that Beyonce would share the same admixture as her mother. For all the comments about every black person in America being mixed so Beyonce is not special a)that’s not true b)Beyonce is fully in the right to claim such ancestory because it is RECENT (visible), as in she knows exactly what her mother, grandparents looked like….she’s not claiming mixture that was 50 grandparents ago..that mixture is still visibly in her family, so the argument that “every black person is mixed, she is not special” is null and void.

    3) If Beyonce really hated black people and herself she would not have married and have a child with Jay-Z, sorry, that wouldn’t logically make sense for a person suffering from self-hate. Stop assuming what Beyonce feels. You do not know her so stop it. It’s really sad and petty.

    4)I can’t help but to think that most people’s problem with Beyonce, has to do with the colorism issue that still plagues the black community. Stop hating on her. Not only are you confirming to the stereotype but your acting like its Bey’s fault for who she is. It’s really funny how people always comment on Beyonce wearing blonde hair and her photos being lightened, but fail to notice that Mary J Bligde does the same thing (ahem exhale soundtrack cover). But it’s okay when Mary does it, because she obviously doesn’t want to be white, only light-skin Beyonce wants to be white. Give me a break!

    5) This article is just an excuse to hate on Beyonce. I don’t see where Beyonce made the mistake that the author is claiming. She never denied that she was black.. hell that was the first thing listed…so what’s your problem. Just because she listed other things that ARE part of her recent ancestry does not mean that she hates being black. Don’t project your own insecurities unto another person. Not everyone hates being black, and just because she wants to acknowledge her mother’s side does not mean she hates her dad’s side. Only a three year old or immature person who do not have sound reasoning capabilities would come to that absurd conclusion. So to the author, go home, take a hot shower, and confront your own problems that you are wrestling with.

    Geez the girl can never catch a break from you haters. First ya’ll claimed she wasn’t really pregnant and since that wasn’t true, now ya’ll claim she hates being black. You are just looking for justification for your own hatred. You people sicken me. GET A LIFE!

  • blah

    People need to be more concerned with themselves than others. African Americans seem to be obsessed with everyone else and how they view themselves. People have a right to decide what they are within the cultural, historical, political, or social norms of their community. Look at Beyonce’s mother’s side of the family. If there is black, it is very little. She has a right to acknowledge her french and native american ancestry which is not miniscule or from circa 1600, but more recent.

    Also, not all African Americans are mixed. Many african americans are just blends of other regional african slaves. It wasn’t just one ethnic group that was captured and sold. Also, very few african americans have native american blood…..seriously, you’d think based off of this that EVERY SINGLE AF-AM had native AND white blood. Not so. Very few red-bones as a whole.

    I think it’s interesting how Af-Ams believe they know what white people think of others. White people do not believe black is black. They recognize admixture, and question when certain people call themselves “black” most notably biracial or lightskinned caucasion like individuals. But they are not going to have an argument with you, or question you – not to your face at least.

    Af-ams need to get over themselves and start loving themselves. Pretty soon being “black”: is going to be a porcelain skinned blonde woman with blue eyes with aquline nose and cupids bow lip. Other racial groups do not accept other mixes as pure raced. A hapa is not “ASIAN”; a half south asian is not “INDIAN”, a half white person is not “WHITE”. Only african americans are obsessed with using a racist idealogy meant to allow white slave owners to keep their slaves no matter how much white blood they have in them to “force” people into the fold. Ask yourself why you have to do this, why you feel obsessed with doing this. Culture is not a color. HIstory and identity is not a color.

    Let people celebrate who they are. Do you.

  • Isis

    I have 2 black parents that makes me black, not mixed. Thanks

  • Isis

    Exactly Blah.

  • OW

    I am the first person to get annoyed when someone especially a Black person cannot distinguish between race and ethnicity i.e. saying “I’m just Black” when someone asks if one is Caribbean….Caribbean is a nationality + culture, Black is the race. Black Americans are also Black people just not African, or Caribbean or Latin Black people. As for Beyonce we know so much about her and one of those things is that she is a Louisiana/Texas Creole. If you think about what that means in that region, American Creoles are of Native American, French (white), and African (Black) descent. This is where French Europeans settled and created their sub culture amongst Native Americans and African (sadly slaves at this time in history). Louisiana/Texas Creoles have one of the strongest, deepest rooted, un-adulterated “Black” cultures in the United States. So as Beyonce is of Creole descent, her background/make-up is French, Native American, and African American as broken down in the commercial. If that were a conversation with a Black audience we would understand “Creole” BUT since it is a main stream commercial with the SOLE purpose of demonstrating that the Loreal True Match foundation is formulated to fit all skin tones and textures and that your skin tone and texture is result of your racial/ethnic make-up, they broke out her racial/ethnic mixture to exemplify this. I find it interesting that no one has issue or interest in the fact that Jennifer Lopez did exact same commercial and her ethnicity is listed as 100% Puerto Rican and while I get it, stating your nationality is not a telling factor in what your skin tone will be. Breaking down you racial mixture is a better indicator and wherefore better suits the purpose of the commercial. I don’t think Beyonce has a problem with being Black I think that Black women their own issues with being Black take issue with a mixed woman owning her racial mix as if she is denouncing her Blackness by acknowledging the other part of her that she is equally made up of. If you were to see Beyonce on the street you would assume a recent racial mixture but let her say it and it’s a controversy. Wake up ppl.

  • Penny

    Is it possible that we are choosing to view this negatively and not seeing a possibly more positive message? (Don’t throw the tomatoes at me yet – hear me out! LOL.) I’m calling myself out on this, too when I say “we.”

    In the commercial, Beyonce acknowledges a “story” behind her skin, just as there is a story behind all of our (women of color) complexions. Everyone has a story behind their skin, whether they are the color of coffee beans or the color of rice. To me, the commercial is sending the message that not only is her complexion very specific, so it requires a very specific makeup, but she is marketing to a huge pool of customers who also deserve a very specific color (no matter what color they are) that is a reflection of their actual complexion. This has been a challenge to women of color (black women in particular) for decades. I don’t know if many of you were around in the late 60′s – early 70′s, but “white” makeup companies did not even consider women of color as a customer. And when they did, initially, the color choices they offered were not very specific at all. They’d just throw some browns in there for good measure, but it was a joke. I remember when my mother decided to wear Fashion Fair because it was black owned…but ironically, even those colors were not specific enough for her actual complexion. I don’t know if L Oreal has succeeded in fulfilling that type of need with the True Match line, but the commercial sends the message to me that they are aware of the need and are attempting to address it. We are not just a group of women with three or four browns; we have so many variations of complexion within our group just as white women have so many variations.

    I wonder if we are being overly sensitive because of who is in the commercial. (Beyonce gets a lot of praise and criticism..some deserved, some not necessarily deserved.) Just imagine if a celebrity of a significantly darker complexion were in Beyonce’s place. (Yes, I know that will never happen, but just imagine…LOL.) What if she talked about the story behind her skin and she described having African, Jamaican (yes, I know, not a race), Chinese and Native American roots. Then, she identified her L Oreal True Match selection as “Espresso – C 10.” She’s a deep brown and she’s proud as a peacock, but she’s also mentioning “Jamaican,” which is obviously not a race. Still, it’s part of the story and it had an effect on her complexion story in some way, just as it could have had another effect on her much lighter sister’s complexion story…and her sister could be “Golden Beige – N6.5.” What if instead of Beyonce, they had the two sisters I mention together in the commercial describing the story behind their two very different complexions, and showing that L Oreal has the perfect shades for them. When I looked at the commercial again and took my opinions about Beyonce out of the equation (and it was challenging…LOL), I saw something different…something a lot more positive.

  • S.

    I don’t care

  • Chnyere

    “Beyoncé got some issues with being Black, y’all”
    if she is mixed then, she is mixed don’t down her for claiming it. And black ppl need to stop claiming her and move on, smh it embarrassing

  • BrooklynZoe

    Let people celebrate who they are. Do you
    Of course I do I love being “Black” yeah I don’t use the word African American and never will. And If you read what I wrote I stated that there is nothing wrong with honoring your roots.

  • JaeBee

    “100% Puerto Rican means nothing with regards to here race, but whatever…”

    You’re right. “100% Puerto Rican” means nothing when you have Puerto Ricans that can be a light as JLo to as dark as Evelyn Lozada. I’d like to see Ms. Lozada rocking the “True Match” shade for “100% Puerto Ricans” that Jennifer was sporting. Now THAT will be entertaining television!

  • JaeBee

    Being “black” and Dominican are not mutually exclusive.

  • African American Privilege

    You can no right to tell the Dominican women who she is. This is classic African American privilege: forcing your concept of race down the mouths other people. News flash, that Dominican woman has her own history, her own concept of race, and you need to mind your own business – you are not one of her! It is funny how quickly African Americans take up the habits of racist white Americans as soon as they are dealing with non-Americans.

    Even if she agreed that she was black. That doesn’t mean that she is black like you! Get over yourself. Yes, “brown/black” immigrants recognize that they are recipients of racism too. But that doesn’t mean that they will throw away their history just to fit into your box. Classic American arrogance!

  • divinnalafeme

    I don’t think the article is saying she shouldn’t embrace her heritage but what does it have to do with make up blending with her skin complexion??? Nothing! And as someone stated it is indeed a matter of convenience I think since this was Loreal Paris she decided to play up her french ancestry to appear exotic now had this been Lamik, Carols Daughter, Ada or Blackup this never would have come up because her like many others are black when it is convenient like if it’s time for the Bet awards or to be the first black woman to win whatever it is fine but if it’s the Oscars or the Grammy’s with Gwen……Ya’ll know the rest.

  • http://twitter.com/AmariahSTyler AmariahSTyler

    I’ve always wondered why Beyonce always stresses the fact that she’s “creole” moreso than her sister, but that’s her biz. My thing with Beyonce is the fact that she wasn’t preaching all that “1/4 this and 1/4 that” when she was trying to break into the music biz with the rest of her black group members. When Destiny’s Child first went on tour what race was she then? How about when they were featured in Hype Hair, Sister Sister, Sophisticate’s Hair, or Right On? Or perhaps when they first got on BET and were featured on BLACK shows and were happy to appear on shows like Soul Train? She wasn’t talking about her Creole heritage then.

    I noticed a long time ago that once black celebs get fame and status they forget about what got them there in the first place…who they’re target audience was. Sort of like how celebs do the Soul Train Awards, BET Awards, and Image Awards. After they get invited to the Golden Globes and Oscars you hardly see them at the predominately black awards unless they’re trying to promote something or make a comeback.

    As black people, we are all mixed up which is the explanation for our many skin tones. We know the history and how that came to be. I just find it sad how some people do not see the value in their skin color, whether it’s black, brown, caramel, or ivory, as I do. In relation to the article, if she feels that by approving pictures of her digitally lightened skin and promoting herself as not 100% black is what’s hot, then that’s her choice. I love being black and I love my brown skin just the way it is. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Erica

    black people are always complaining about Beyonce being lightskinned or creole

  • KK

    +1,000,000,000
    Especially these points, which are
    1) The criticism of Beyonce’s blonde hair when Mary J. Blidge as far back as i can recall has been in blonde locks.
    2) Demanding she deny her mother’s roots when it’s so recent. Were it a biracial star who looks totally white denying their recent black root, you had all be up in arms about it
    3) Always complaining she is not black enough when on magazine covers, yet now telling her she is ”just Black”.

    It is this lack of consistency that boggles my mind. Please, please decide which it is and stick to it and if you are going to judge one star according to a certain set of rules then please apply to all. Be an EQUAL OPPORTUNITY CRITIC.
    Thank you.

  • Beautiful Mic

    Exactly.

  • Beautiful Mic

    She specified African-American, french and native american because her father is not creole, and she has two separate French rooted lineages – French and Acadian. There is French ancestry via Canada and French ancestry straight from France…two different historical implications, IMO.

  • Beautiful Mic

    The idea of being 100% Puerto Rican in ancestry is just as bad as the idea of being 100% Black in ancestry. The two only denote cultural identity. Black further denotes race and social heritage. Puerto Rico natives have their own recognized ethnicity as being a triracial isolate. All Puerto Ricans are mixed in ancestry.

  • Foluso

    I understand what the author means by Black people trying to run from their own “blackness,” because of some form of self denial. However, there is a failure to grasp the fact that “blackness” is a face. It is a color. It is not specific in term of culture, yet it alludes to many. It’s like trying to put Poles and Italians under the same broad category of European. The color is the same but there is such a deep contrast in custom and history that the implications may seem insulting to some. My parents are Nigerian. Most people when seeing me will describe me as begin Black. Yes, this is so. But I’m not just Black -I’m Nigerian and not just Nigerian -Yoruba and not just Yoruba but half my family is Islamic as well (Northern Yoruba). I’m a specific type, a deeper understanding of what the term Black has come to mean over the decades. Within Africa when someone asks you what you are it is greatly insufficient to just say Black. There’s so much more to that story.

    Perhaps in North America where Black people can’t pinpoint their ancestry to the exact group of Africans, much less tribe, the term Black -in that country- is enough. But people don’t ask your ethnicity for its namesake only, but what they truly want is an understanding of morals/culture. The word African American has a cultural meaning, long and glorious story understood by millions of people of a certain place. Notice how the cover says African American, not just African or Black on its own. Native American. French. There are terms of culture, terms of history, not entirely specific but not as broad as they could have been.

    I’m not insulted when someone calls me Black, but I am insulted when they assume certain characteristics to be my own when they in fact hold another “Black” race’s features.

    I’m not trying to make an argument, I’m just trying to point something out.

  • http://designsdelight.com designs

    That is the topic that needs to be tackled, I am currently shooting a documentary on who is black and who is not black in Britain.

    When I was growing up mixed race people were considered black but now they are militant and denying ,passing and asking the white man to give them the cold shoulder.

    The whiteman likes it when he is the arbiter and the excluder. He has every right to say that these people are not white.

  • Leigh

    I really like what you have to say. Thank you. I have always recognized someone’s ethnicity and culture as different from their race. I ask people who have accents where they are from. To some this may seem rude, but I have a broad respect for all peoples and what to know who they are and how they came to be who they are. All French are not Europeans, just like all Caucasians are not European. I am English, Irish, Welch and Native American and who knows what else. I only get to chose “white”-that’s not only who or what I am. I am an American, an Okie and live in Kentucky; I am an artist, I work with the elderly. I like people for who they are, I don’t judge someone by their bloodline. Knowing that Beyonce claims African-American, French and Native America is interesting to me, that’s all. Does her claiming that make her less “black”? or diminish her African roots? No, it makes her just like the rest of us. A person, a human, like Aaron Neville always says, “there is just one race, the human race.” love peace

  • 12

    At least she put African American first. It’s usually mentioned last.

  • 12

    On a serious note, she cannot define herself as part of an ethnic group due to the history African Americans, Native Americans, and even White Americans have in this country. Through centuries these citizens have become far removed from their ancestral roots. The only identification available is the Nationality. Beyonce cannot claim which African ethnic groups she comes from; the same with the other two. This has been blown out of proportion. Jennifer Lopez describes herself as Latina? My eyebrows raised more over her description, than Beyonce’s.

  • JaeBee

    I thought the commercial described JLo as being “100% Puerto Rican”…

  • blah

    All Puerto Ricans are not triracial. Puerto Ricans, like many Carribbean ethnicities have a mix of different peoples who eventually settled in the Carribbean islands and high concentration of taino blood from the maternal bloodline. Now many of them are mixed and are triracial or even Quad, if you want to consider those of south asian or middle eastern decent who came as indentured servants or later on came as immigrants. Even Jews immigrated to the Carribbean, like the Jewish settlements in the Dominican Republic. Ricky Martin does not have the same exact genetic history as Jennifer Lopez or Joan Smalls or Evelyn Lozado or sonia sotomayor. Same goes for Dominicans: Sammy Sosa, Juan Luis Guerra, Dania Ramirez, Oscar De La Renta, Susie Castillo. Or Cubans: hello Celia Cruz, Eva Mendez, Jose Canseco. But they all consider themselves their own exclusive group. They do not qualify it.

    I like what someone said – color, phenotype does not tell you who a person is, history, cultural, religion, customs do. Respect that.

  • Robbie

    If Beyonce identifies herself as being French, creole, black, Native, whart is the issue? How does that mean that she has self-esteem issues? she married a black man and not a good looking one and on top of that they have a daugther. In no way she is not proud of being black. We should leave it alone.

    I have seen her a couple of times on French Television. I love how she tries to speak French and talks so highly of France and how much she loves it. What is wrong with that? Why shouldn’t she claimed her French/Native/creole heritage? Give that girl a break. I love me some Beyonce and I don’t quite understand why she is always under attack.

  • Vanessa

    This is stupid! She is part Creole if she wants the add to put that she is also native american and french then let her. I am black and proud and I could careless if someone that is mixed chooses to identify with all of herself. Like seriously it is time for you and everybody else black to happy about yourself and just because a mixed, white, latina, asian, indian or whatever is considered beautiful it doesnt make you inferior. Why do you feel the need to point this out, are you insecure yourself?

  • Sincerely_Me

    As a current graduate student in Europe, I realize that as Americans we place race as an identifier and don’t acknowledge our nationality as much as our race. Consider the sentence “Her dad is Black, so I guess he makes up the African-American part.” Once again, you solely focus on his race as an identifier. That’s like making an argument to qualify Obama as the first Kenyan American and not as a black president. Historically, he’s the “first,” but globally people will use his nationality as his identifier. If she’s proud of her heritage, and recognizes that her DNA composition is of African American, Native American, and French, then kudos to her. Zoe Saldana and Jessica Alba also argue against the social construct of race and nationality.

  • Anonymous

    It’s articles like these that will always leave the “black” race two steps behind. So what if she wants to mention her other ethnicities? I don’t see the problem. Does that make her less “black”? Should she not claim them just because she appears as a black woman in terms of skin? I’m pretty positive if Beyonce just said she was African American or Black, there would still be some controversy. I feel that if she African American, French, and Native American she should be allowed to embrace all 3, not just one to satisfy us. I don’t think she’s trying to come off as less black just because she’s not denying who she is.

  • thomas smith

    as DuBois said the color line is the issue
    i would not refuse her my sexual favors, but I dont find Bounce all that “beautiful” nice body (not my ideal) and ok face.
    we still have the color hang up especially all of the hip hop rappers, look at any of the videos
    we must understand how we have been infected with the color virus and how to get rid of it!!!.

  • thomas smith

    In america if you dont look white enough you are Black, I claim all those people.
    those who look white enough have already “passed”

  • thomas smith

    you got it exactly right, the white world cannot accept that a Black woman can be considered beautiful (even though I dont consider her all that)

  • thomas smith

    BLACK WARRIOR QUEEN I love you!!! you are right

  • thomas smith

    if she were to go incognito anywhere in america she would be identified as black, light colored but black.
    so it seems to me she is running away from being black by dialuting it saying creole.
    I know some women who do pass that have black ancestors , they reap the benefits of being white

  • thomas smith

    yes, I know what you mean.
    the reason whites dont ask or talk about black folks background is because they know almost all of us have a white RAPIST in our genetics, .
    they probly do also, but IT DOES NOT SHOW!!!!
    crucial difference

  • thomas smith

    power relations, the dominican woman dosent understand the context of skin color in america, she thinks she is cool because she is not dark like some other dominicans or hatians, she just dont know, but she will find out if she stays here in america

  • thomas smith

    i would like to know more about your film

  • Bosslady

    @designs,
    I don’t know what part of Britain you come from, but in London Mixed Race people have NEVER been considered black (to be honest, I thought it was only in the USA where mixed race people are considered black). The old British term for mixed race people was “half caste,” which luckily is not used anymore as it is offensive…However with reference to the article, Beyonce is Black! All African American are “mixed” to a certain degree…Tiger Woods and Halle Berry however would be known as mixed race in British terms.

  • http://cupofjo-jo.blogspot.com bk chick

    Ok I just have to say this ad STILL makes no sense to me. I believe another person on this post said they had the same exact heritage as beyonce but described themselves as medium brown in complexion. Therefore a make-up tailored to suit your skin, particularly for African American women, should not highlight ethnicity, but rather just the tone of the skin. It would make more sense if she said “I am light tan with bronze undertones..” or something like that because each ethnicity and race is not paired with a specific color.

    Why would the ad list her ethnicity? is it because it;s a moment to tell the world “hey. you thought beyonce was black? sike she’s actually mixed”…I dunno. And obviously there is no problem with her detailing her background…but in terms of what is being advertised it just doesn’t make sense. I had a white lady once tell me she thought the reason why beyonce’s baby’s hair came out straight is cause beyonce is really french and native american and not fully black…and this is why dumb shit gets spread and misinformation because apparently ppl have little understanding of ethnicity, race, and phenotype.

  • Kim

    You are absolutely right. We all have our own stories as groups of people. I am the descendant of African slaves bought and brought to this country. I am like Fredrick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, his wife Clorreta, the men and wome who risked their lives during the Civil Rights Movement, the four little girls killed by a bomb in Alabama and Michelle Obama. That is who I am and it would greatly be appreciated if those who are not one of us could stop claiming us. Once again, thank you.

  • Karen

    “If you do not understand White Supremacy (Racism)-what it is, and how it works-everything else that you understand will only confuse you”
    Dr. Neely Fuller

  • BlacknAmazed

    @OW Well….you can be annoyed all you want…sweetie. To each it’s own opinion.

    Me personally….I don’t think Beyonce in a True Match make up ad is any bigger than her tryin to sell make up to a broader audience. and… It’s just about that big.

    Listen….people love to make life sound so cut and dry and cute…lol please.

    Keisha Cole has a white /Italian father…by birth (which we only know cause her mother told us). But…she was raised by two black folks…in a black working class/poor neighborhood and probably was only around white folks at school or work. So….starting to claim all this stuff and not really having influence of these cultures… sounds ridiculous to me. It’s interesting how the media and these blogs play the divide game among black folk….and y’all up right in.

    I’m from New Orleans…with the same racial make up as Beyonce’s mother plus some other stuff….who by the way…ran a black hair salon …in a black neighborhood in Houston TX….I guess the French folks was in there too? lol Both my parents make up is interesting to some…but to them …they are Black Folk! So there for that’s who I am.

    What about the many “mixed” looking black folk that are that way by rape? you know….that’s apart of American History. we never bring that up….do we. and back a few years ago in New Orleans the so called Mulatto’s only wanted to marry and breed with other Mulatto’s…..we never bring that up….do we. Many of these people influences from all these cultures in their make up.

    I would love Beyonce to introduce us to all these French and Native American people that raised her. :)

  • BlacknAmazed

    meant…many of black folk that may look “mixed” don’t always have influences from these people they look like.
    and I almost for got ….what about the darker shades of brown who are mixed and no one knows until they tell you…..lol like I said life is not cut and dry that way. So….I guess you can just run around and be who ever you like….if it makes you feel good about yourself. I feel good about being my beautiful black self.

  • BlacknAmazed

    But …you will throw down your hertiage to play a african american in a movie or on tv….say word. I just love the non African American Arrogance.

    I think that’s why some us like being called African American….it tells our story….you know how you have yours. No one is asking a latino person to claim they are african american. you must be reading wrong. But….black is black sweetie….if your darker than a brwn paper bag keep livin in America and you will know that for sure.

  • Wow

    @BlacknAmazed:

    So basically you are saying that a person should only identify themselves with the people they grew up with regardless of their biological racial makeup.

    So by your logic, president Obama should only identify as white since he only had white influences growing up..bc lets face it, his black father was not present in his life. And Angelina Jolie’s adopted daughter Zahara should also identify as white because she grew up with white folks and have white influences. Would you be okay with that? Lol i don’t think you would, but if you don’t agree with this, you would look like a hypocrite now wouldn’t you. lmao

    Your line of reasoning is so stupid and all you are doing is feeding into white racism (one drop rule anyone).

  • LaLA

    The author is incorrect. These descriptions on the Beyonce video are correct and not out of sync with each other. They are descriptions of ethnicity and not race.

    “African American” is an ethnicity, just like French and even Native American. Those three adjectives are in perfect alignment. Unfortunately, many blacks in America do not understand the difference between the terms African American and black, and use the terms interchangeably. When I was in France five years ago, one of my American friends insisted on calling black people over there “African Americans”. I couldn’t get him to stop this foolishness.

    If the question is Beyonce’s RACE, then it could be stated that she is black, mixed with white and indigenous American.

  • D-Ski

    I love the discussion family this is needed. First let me state that for the record I am a black male (victim of white supremacy). Now since I got that out the way let me add my funky 5 cents to this discussion. We are extremely confused family (people of African descent). What we are currently doing right now is the Pee-Wee Herman “I know you are but what am I” LOL. We have to be honest family. We don’t do the classification White people do. It doesnt matter whether you are from the Carribean, Europe, South America, or the CONTINENT. U are non-white a victim on some level to global white supremacy. If you want to dispute this check on Haiti one of the view non-white countries that successfully won their independence from the French opps their go that country again. This country at present is not in very good shape. Imperialism, Colonialism, Slavery equals Racism White Supremacy. No matter where your people come from if you are recognized as someone who is black we all have this in common.

  • black_feminist

    You hit the nail on the head!

  • Annie

    Beyonce’s cousin Angie Beyince is of the same stock as her, and when people see her, nobody is thinking twice to question or dissect her ancestry. I find it odd that fame, money, and marketability changes a person’s racial identity. And for those of you who aren’t of Louisiana Creole stock, let’s get real. It just has to do with tracing your roots to pre-Colonial America, before the U.S. bought the Louisiana purchase. There are black, white, Native-American, and mixed descendants of Creole. Yes, descendants of free people of color use it for identity and culture sake, but technically, there are more “white” Creole descendants of French and Spanish background alive than the many “blacks” or “mixed folk” who identify as Creole. I know this. My folks come from the mixed stock of the Cane River Creoles. Just because great-aunts spoke French, and had their own culture, I can smell the B.S. of companies trying to appeal to mainstream by dissecting, diluting, and force exoticism on African-American women.

  • Ms. Information

    Insecure black people keep trying to explain the “black” away….Solange and Beyonce have the same mama and daddy…Solange rocks her nappy natural beautiful hair..and Beyonce rocks the lightest blonde that she can find to make her look “ethnic”..take out that weave and Beyonce will have nappy hair like Solange and will put all the “well she is Creole” people to silence. Yall know this girl is black..stop tripping.

  • soulfullyreal

    “First of all, “French” is not a race. Or an ethnicity. Or anything that would require you to match a shade of makeup to it.”

    LOL! I just had to quote that, ok, i’mma read the rest now…

  • Jen

    We all play whatever cards we have to help or advance ourselves or to identify with whatever person or group we are currently talking to or being embraced by. Black people are not unique in this. I play up my own Creole parentage when I’m talking to French-Canadians; my boyfriend, who has French-Canadian ancestry (as well as Irish-Canadian, as well as a little bit of Jamaican), told me on our first date that he’s, like, 15% black. It’s not visible AT ALL he’s white as the driven snow, so why do you think he felt the need to claim this? Because he wanted to emphasize some commonality between us. This is human nature, not self-hatred.

    When I’m talking to darker-skinned black people, I suddenly morph into 100% black. Funny how that works, lol.

    But this is an innate advantage that people from multicultural families have – the advantage of adaptability. It’s not necessarily a bad idea to bring this out into the open and question or discuss it, but I’m not sure that it’s an inherently unethical thing. Could it be a sort of privilege? Sure it could.

  • Elle

    THANK YOU! For writing this, one of the worst things to see is woman act as if being Black or just Black is less beautiful, interesting or “exotic”

    http://ellecherieamour.wordpress.com

  • Anonymous

    I understand the point that is made here but the argument that because the Dominican hairdresser was, somewhere in her lineage, descended from “somebody in Africa” does NOT make her Black. I agree with what one commenter said above:
    …”Perhaps in North America where Black people can’t pinpoint their ancestry to the exact group of Africans, much less tribe, the term Black -in that country- is enough.”…
    But that isn’t how it works everywhere else and to assume it as a category that works universally would be grossly negligent and ignorant. I too share your disappointment with how Beyoncé has in some occasions lightened her complexion to serve some sort of larger purpose but the overarching thesis that colored people are shunning their “blackness” is really misconstrued. This is the same argument that many African Americans have used to attack me for “denying my blackness” because I say I am Ethiopian. I am not black, not because being black is wrong or something with negative connotations, but because I can in no way relate to the socio-culture derivations (which you mention above) of the race. I cannot relate to the African American history of slavery or subjugation (sure I can empathize!), nor can I relate to the deep rooted, beautiful, and long culture history. To say I was black would honestly be a disservice to the race.This does not mean I deny my color. I am dark skinned and I love it (personally I would love to be darker!) and I am not so naive as to think my being Ethiopian exempts me from hasty generalizations and discrimination in America. I understand what my color entails, I embrace it, I love it but I am not Black. I know this may be an entirely tangential argument but it is something that really frustrates me.

  • Zanele

    Dear Janelle, PLEASE be my new best friend! This article is brilliant, is 100% on the money, nothing better could have been said.

    As for the Ethiopian lady. I honestly have no words. I am native African, and as far as we are concerned, ALL Africans are Black. Light-skinned ones, dark-skinned ones. No-one identifies by nation first, then race second. For the simple reason that the “African” states and boundaries as we know them today are not as they originally were – separated on tribal/ethnic lines – before European colonisation of Africa, and thus any shying away from and differentiation of “Blackness” was imported and imposed upon us. I’m sorry you missed the memo, me dear Black friend, who happens also to be from Ethiopia.

  • Anonymous

    First off Zanele, that is your opinion and what was stated above was my opinion and frustration so there was no need for an argument based on ad hominem. Having said that, I have no idea why you believe your idea is endorsed by the whole of Africa as seen here: “and as far as we are concerned, ALL Africans are Black.” I am also a native of Africa (born and raised) and I have many friends and family members who support my view and many others who support yours so there is no logic behind implying Africa as a continent feels one way. And as far as ascribing to something that was “imposed upon ‘us’” by European colonization, I feel that the need to classify myself so narrowly between black, white, and other is in itself, an imposition. It never dawned on me to describe myself as “black” until I came to America, in Ethiopia we celebrated the variety of colors of our people, it is by far one of the most poignant things that I remember. There was no “white” or “black”, it was colored with every shade in between. Furthermore (since I can only speak for my experiences as an Ethiopian), Ethiopia was NEVER colonized so the extent of this “imposition” you speak of is minimal in the country. Thirdly, I could not disagree with your primary position more (I am referring to: “ALL Africans are Black. Light-skinned ones, dark-skinned ones. No-one identifies by nation first, then race second.”) I think this is the most reversed logic I have yet to come across. It should be all blacks are African. Africa is the root, it isn’t a term of nationalistic pride or anything, it is heritage. I don’t understand how when a white person says that they are 1/8 Irish, 1/4 Polish, etc. they are deemed to be proud of their heritage but when I say I am Ethiopian I’m just being nationalistic. No, Black originates from Africa not the other way around and because race is a very socially constructed idea, it would be a drastic oversimplification to only consider it as a matter of color. Lastly, if you wish to continue this conversation, I would be more than happy and willing to do so but please refrain from attacking me as a person, there is no need to quip that “I missed the memo”; it doesn’t support your argument and it’s rude.

  • http://designsdelight.net designs

    @bosslady

    the British are strange as you know, take John Terry, the former English football captain, he referes to Ferdinand brother “a black c–t”. when he knows the boy is a half caste.

    British say that he should stay captain.l

    The white man has no incentive to include them. In any racial classification by the white man, mixed raced were lower than Indians.

    We all know that mixed raced people are not really black but because they are rejected and mistreated by the white man, we include them. Imagine if black people had a radio station and told the mulattoes that we only cater to black people.

    Mulatoes know the score, that we share stuff with them.

    But the white man, knows they are weak for his love, they need his approval, as Duke Ellington was wrote the is a ” creole love call” the white man buries for the day he needs to buffer himself.

    Did you see how in Britain they are encouring mixed identity with the censors, I do not know why but there is something the white man is up to.

    I was born in South Africa and it is sad to see how the white man plays the coloured card.

    After apartheid, the coloured chose to go over to the whiteside, how dumb is that?

  • D-Chubb

    @Anonymous I thank you for your words. Now, I understand why such a revolutionary idea as Pan-Africanism could only have taken hold in West Africa and not in the East and the Horn. You have clarified it terrifically.

  • September’s Muse

    Once upon a time, there was a deeper version of me that proved exotic to a lighter race. Where he came from, I dont know. His name, I dont know. His blood courses through my veins and the only thing I can tell you is that he was a slave master. I was born in America, I relate to the “black race” because I cannot pin point an exact location in Africa but I know I came from there(although I do know one of the tribes). The story is different for Beyonce because she can trace her heritage. She has a different heritage. She may be able tell you more about her fair-skinned ancestors than I can tell you about mine. We have different stories. Do I care? Its interesting but no. Shes selling make-up. There are some Russian-Itatians who can also relate to her story. There are some white people who can relate to mine because they dont know what country they came from or that culture. Its a story thats going to sell because it market area is huge. Is this saying Im not important bc I cant relate to it, hell no. Would I like to see a black person who I can relate to up there: HELL YEAH!

  • Nee Nee

    I think a more accurate description for Beyonce would be “African American: African, French, Native American”, breaking down what “African American” is in her specific case, since African American historically encompasses many types of mixtures, including English, Irish, and Chinese, and specific ethnicities within the aforementioned groups. I think that “French” is correct in the context of her describing herself as “creole”, and would refer to an ethnic description in the historical context. We all know things are much different in France today. But we understand that her DNA test would have markers light up over France.

    Up until very recently, anyone who was part black was considered African American, including biracial/mulattos, and people who were much less than 50% or 25% black too. So for Beyonce, whose parents and all the ancestors she probably knows about are “black” and even if her mom is “creole”, her mother is a black creole, which is a type of African American, I think the list African American separately, is disingenuous, but perhaps Beyonce is just ignorant. Many black creoles and other Lousiana-area blacks are also mixed with Haitian ancestry, which I don’t see anyone going out of their way to claim :D

    As for Dominicans, I would never suggest that I thought they were black, because as most people know, and as the Dominican Minister of Culture said on the Gates “Black in Latin America” documentary, “Dominicans are in complete denial of their identity.” He said 90% have African ancestry, making it one of the blackest countries in the Latin America. The dark-skinned minister of culture said he didn’t realize he was black until people started calling him that when he had moved to the United States. Many claim to be “indio” (Native American), though far fewer of them are any portion Native American (I believe it was less than 20%), more are part Spanish. But there are plenty of African Americans who act the same way.

  • nnaattaayy

    Haha. That’s how Dominicans are. Most refuse to acknowledge their African ancestry but overly highlight their Spanish heritage. This is why they look down on Haitians. But the truth is, their just black lol. Just like every other person in the African Diaspora. That’s why they know how to straighten hair so perfect, they got kinky textures themselves lol. Don’t ever tell them that though ;)

  • http://www.shesgottawriteit.com a.chigozie

    i get the issue with Beyonce’s ad, i don’t think there is a black woman alive who saw that in a magazine or on TV and didn’t do a double-check, “say what” in response. But with regard to the Dominican hairdresser, she’s Dominican. I don’t know her history, but she’s probably had more Dominican influence in her life than Beyonce has had “Native American/French” influence and that makes a world of difference.

    all of our people who like to claim 1/4 this or 1/8 of that, they are claiming histories that have not contributed to their development as an individual. They are exaggerating the contribution of these groups to their lives and alternatively, when you ask a person who is Haitian, Dominican, Ghanian, or whoever that has been directly influenced by these respective cultures to simplify their existence to blackness, that’s a bit much, don’t you think?

  • http://www.shesgottawriteit.com a.chigozie

    also lets keep in mind that people experience “blackness” in very different ways. so in America, the black experience is homogenized, and that homogenized experience is packaged and distributed around the world. everyone who has brown skin does not identify with that black experience that is the “ultimate” experience.so trying to lump them into that is obviously not going to go over well.

  • 100% human

    What does Obama, tiger woods and beyonce all have in common. They are not all black. What is wrong with being proud of what you are. We as an individual never asked to be born into this world, let alond ask to be a color or race. So she is proud of being french, black etc. Sorry black people that you claim someone for your own without asking that person who they want to be known as. If she where all white or hispanic and had all the same talent would you buy her albums? Get over it. Obama was raised by whites when his african father abandoned him and god for bid he claim his white heritage. We are all human beings and untill we realize this and stop worring about the imanginary boarders and lines we make for each other things will never change. One day we will all be the same color the human color. be proud of who you are and give other people the same respect. Would you want someone else to claim you?

  • Ms. Information

    Obama and Tiger have immediate parents of different races…Beyonces mom is black as well as her father…I wish people would stop acting as if being black or mostly black is negative. Every other race mimicks US!! I am proud to be black..and yes there is some indian, some white…some whatever in the background but I am black and there is no shame associated with this.

  • 100% human

    I wish that claiming other heritages beside black or african was not treated as some sort of treason. alica key’s is half white never herd her speak on it same for halle berry. The message i am getting from this article is that is you have black or african heritage mixed with something else you can only claim your black side. That is rediculous. The only person acting as if she is assamed of her african root’s is the auther of this article and all the brainless morons agreeing with said person. She is as beautiful as she is because of all her heritages combined. just as all people are because of their heritage. She is proud of who she is, either you are down with it or you are not but i doubt she is losing any sleep over this article. she has a baby for that. Not to mention the main subject here, it was a commercial she got a big fat check for it. The point of it was diversity. She is diverse in more way’s then her blood. you where cool when she was putting rings on it and all bootylicous, but bring up the fact she is american indian or french and you lose your mind. I don’t know maybe i’m the one who is crazy.

  • Anonymous

    Beautifully said.

  • http://www.eboniejohnsoncooper.com EbsTheWay

    Hi Janelle- Let me first address the Dominican issue. It will help your argument to know, no one outside the US identifies with race before their nationality. As such your hairdresser IS in fact Dominican THEN black. It matters not that we share the same diasporic descent. In her country she never had to identify as a color before being a national of that country. Her pride comes in being Dominican not a black Dominican. Now for others such as Celia Cruz or Cuban singer Xiomara, they understand it like we do in many ways. But for the most part, when you run into my people (I grew up w/ Dominicans) don’t be offended.

    Also, as a very well traveled person I can tell you ‘black’ as it’s been made to be in the US is not anything anyone else wants to be. Sad as that may be. Internationally, folks don’t see black America as any thing special. It wasn’t until the Obamas that we got a little pull.

    Anyway, I digress….. every black person made in American ain’t all black. Period. We know this. We’ve simply made identity of being black as anyone who looks black. No matter if your mother or father is clearly white or other, you’re made to be black. And that’s fine. But at the end of the day, we cannot deny the racial mixture we ALL have. So if Beyonce wants to share that she is black, native american and french, so what? She still identifies as black because she knows that’s what she is. She shares many of our backgrounds- even those of us who you can’t tell overtly with similar backgrounds.

    All black is beautiful, no matter that the make up is. The irony is that is what makes us beautiful. I think you need to give Bey a break.

  • Finally

  • Anonymous

    @ Finally: I don’t know which comment your directing this towards but it’s hilarious :)

  • BassaBeauty

    Preach! Great article.

    I wish you would have clearly articulated the difference between race and ethnicity, just as you had for nationality. Most people are not aware of the difference.

    While you are right, many of our folks try so hard to distance themselves from just being plain ole “black”, we have to also understand exactly which kind of “black” they are referring to.

    Black, especially in the American context, is both a race and an ethnicity. Race meaning, you are a descendant of Africa, and Ethnicity which is more cultural.

    Perhaps the Dominican lady was referring to the “cultural” aspect? Dominican culture, is distinctly different from African American culture ( i.e. the food, the practices, etc.)

    So in the ethnicity context, all Blacks are created not equal! Which is fine, it just goes to show how diverse we really are! 

  • Tsion

    I’m an Ethiopian American living in Addis now and I have to say that when Ethiopians shy away from the term Black, it’s not because they’re not Black, but rather because they don’t want to identify with the struggle that comes along with that identity. It’s no secret that Blacks have had to fight for respect and for a positive self-image in this world, both when it comes to success and when it comes to beauty. The argument that Ethiopians don’t talk about people being Black or White is completely false. I’m called “Tiqurwa” (black woman) when a stranger is trying to identify me. My White coworker is called “nechwa” (white woman) when strangers try to identify her. There is also a damaging concept of the “qey” (red bones) and people seem to hold on to that classification when trying to escape the Black category. It’s sad. But Ethiopians who think they aren’t Black need to stop trying to jump out of the pot for the sake of escaping adversity. I’m Ethiopian, and that makes me Black and proud.

  • Anonymous

    Tsion, when you say you are “Ethiopian American” does that mean you were born in Ethiopia than moved to America or you were born in America of Ethiopian parents? Also, my argument was not that Ethiopians don’t talk about people being “black or white” but that in Ethiopia (not when you come to America) the need to so narrowly define color is not so prominent. When you are called “tiqurwah” you are being characterized in relation to those around you and hence what I meant when I said “in Ethiopia we celebrated the variety of colors of our people”. That isn’t to say there isn’t any discrimination or preferential treatment seen towards lighter skinned ethiopians, I’m sure you have heard things like “Kelash! Betam no ematamrew: You’ve gotten lighter, you look great!. However, there is a spectrum here not just black and white. I was definitely not saying Ethiopians are color blind; of course people would refer to a white person as “nech”. On a different note, I do not understand your insistence on thinking that my argument was geared towards “escaping the Black category”. Earlier in your comment, you referenced the fight Blacks have had (and continue to have) “for respect and for a positive self-image in this world” and though I agree with this statement, I, personally, cannot directly identify with the history behind this fight. Being brown skinned, I have faced disrespect and discrimination but that doesn’t mean I share the same background. As a commenter below stated beautifully: “people experience “blackness” in very different ways. so in America, the black experience is homogenized, and that homogenized experience is packaged and distributed around the world. Everyone who has brown skin does not identify with that black experience”. I just cannot understand why we are so quick to label ourselves so narrowly. Tan skinned people from around the world aren’t called “yellow”, they identify primarily with their country of origin. Likewise, I do not understand why being brown skinned requires me to accept the label “black”. I just feel like we all need to take a minute to challenge our labels to really understand what comes with them and strip them away if we feel that they either do not define us or are a misrepresentation of who we really are.

  • mary mary

    To Joan:

    I actually think Tiger Woods had more of a right to claim his mixed heritage because he was raised by an Asian mother and a black dad. Like he is one degree from it, so he making up a term makes sense. Both of Beyonce’s parents are black. She’s trying to make herself seem more exotic to increase her image and sell records. I saw her perform on TV once and she was so light I couldn’t even tell it was her at first. She got skin issues, which is unfortunate for many black women because she is just perpetuating the stereotype that black isn’t beautiful, but at the same time, it is what it is, those are her personal demons to work out.

  • Tsion

    I have no problem with being loyal to your nationality. However, as this article notes, race and nationality are two different things. Europeans are white are they not? They generally have no qualms with identifying as such. Latinos, same. Asians, same (yellow is not a term used to connote race because it is considered offensive). Saying that you are Black does not confine you to the Black American experience that is descended from slavery in this country. We have Black Latinos, Black Africans, Black Americans, Black West Indians and so on. If you have a fundamental problem with identifying as a Black African that’s your choice. I just think a lot of Ethiopians (myself excluded) like to hold on to the little bit of “qey” in them in order to separate themselves from what it means to be a Black person in this world. Dividing ourselves like this is not helpful to our race. If you’re not Black, what race are you? Please don’t tell me your race is Ethiopian….

  • Tsion

    Then again, if you’re protesting the entire concept of racial categorization, power to you. Racial boxes are a source of plenty of headache and heartache. If you want to shed the race label and be a raceless person I can respect that. However, if you go around complaining that people call you Black and it’s not right because you’re not African American you’re gonna get a lot of confused looks and shaking heads.

  • M

    Beyonce is foolish anyways, but she can sing and dance her behind off. I am Jamaican. In Jamaica I am just that Jamaican, In America I am black before I am Jamaican because that is how identity is classified in this country, and we are all living in America, right? The point is Beyonce has never endured what Native Americans endured and she never experienced the french creole experience either. Identifying all these other aspect of your race sometimes is just pointless and stupid. My great grandfather was as white as the day is bright, but you cannot look at me and tell I have his blood. It is apparent in other family members but we don’t wear it as a badge of distinction. In America we recognize that we are black, when we go home we accept that we are Jamaicans, not black, not white..Just Jamaicans.

  • Anonymous

    I have qualms with the entire social construct of race and just chose not to be identified by it. I know that by no means will that stop others from perceiving me as a certain race and that’s totally alright with me. Just like the social construct of sex and gender, I think there are similar constructs for race and social identity and I’m not pleased with it. By the way, Tsion is a very pretty name.

  • http://fusionchronicles.wordpress.com Stephanie

    Interesting…I’ve never heard her blood sister Solange claim all those other things…Hmmm

  • http://www.blackwomenofbrazil.com GatasNegrasBrasileiras

    How is it that we accept Halle Berry as a mixed race black woman but not Beyonce? This thing of someone only being “mixed” if their immediate parents are of different races is a sham. Is Beyonce’s black Creole mother’s phenotype not obvious in her appearance? Most black people from Canada to Argentina are of some degree of mixed race. Beyonce, Melissa Harris-Perry and and Halle Berry all define themselves as black women. There have always been a wide range of phenotypes in the African-American community. She’s a black woman of mixed ancestry. Period. If people didn’t already know, most people probably wouldn’t assume Boris Kodjoe had a white parent. Of the four singers of En Vogue, who can guess which member has a white parent? This is my point. Black people have a multitude of phenotypes. We are black but mixed, mixed but black. It’s that simple.

  • my2sense

    I’m 100% in agreement with you, Janelle, and don’t forget Tyler Perry in your list, lol.

    Though, what Beyonce is doing, I’ve seen it of Black Americans all my life, I think it may be what she and her handlers considering a good marketing tool, for both the products she endorse and for her white and other fan base.

  • Maurice

    I am Cherokee Indian, Irish, French Creole, Puerto Rican and African American. These are my cultural and DNA markers. These are what I have studied and been influenced by. At the same time I tell my children whose mother is full blooded Filipino, that if a cop pulls them over they will be recognized as BLACK. Even if you can tell they are mixed they will still be called black. The sad part about all of this is that black is an American concept. America since conception has played White as good and Black as evil. These are not even colors. You do not find black or white in the rainbow or color spectrum as they are only negative and positive energies. Because America has become so globally dominate black has become synonymous with anything that is not Latino, White or Asian. Just as white became anything that was not Latin, Asian or White etc. … etc… etc… I consider this a disservice to the cultures in the world. It is a fact that we can no longer be recognized solely because of our nationality. In America alone that is a concept that would denote that all Americans are one people. This is foreign because we hybrid everything (African American, Italian American, Japanese American…) It can historically be recognized that Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans are African slaves blended with Europeans and Spanish – but they are not black. They are their own culture. They have been raised and influenced by their own country. It is insane that in order to globalize a term and put people on one track that we have to say all people are black. This is crazy. It is better to say that all black people and/or people of color have African ancestry. (Personally I believe that all people have African ancestry)The media has brain washed us on many levels. We went from continent titles, country titles, tribal titles, city titles and of late color titles. By DNA I am many things, but I am a brown skin American with various immediate ancestries of which I am proud. I’m not trying to be lighter or darker. Content of character not the color of my skin. I relate to the sold and stolen, then enslaved Negro, Colored, African –American, Black culture as my main influence. Still do not do me a disservice by telling me I must consolidate and declare black rejecting all the things that have made me special and beautiful. I hate the title because of the historical negative connotations, but I am black, proud to be black. If you ask me my makeup I will still declare Cherokee Indian, Irish, French Creole, Puerto Rican and African American. My only consolidation will be I am AMERICAN, from AMERICAN! Content of character not the color of my skin. Get over the titles.

  • Metis Gal

    As a French Canadian who has multiple ties to Native Heritage (yes WHITE as you say or a bit darker than pastey, lol) I agree I am astounded at this controversy. It’s a commercial…she’s stating her ancestry and hopefully she’s proud of ALL aspects of it. She’s amazing and talented and that stand by itself. She OBVIOUSLY was not denying anything. There was a day even in my family my grandmother hid her mixed ancestry…yes she was considered mulatto being French and Native they even MOvED elsewhere to hide it when my great grandad died…I’m glad to live now where it’s embraced and not hidden. I am just trying to understand where being proud of being black makes it mandatory to denounce other ethnic origins…it seems like a step backwards in tolerance. Hypothetically If I was a portion black and denied it that’d be wrong in my eyes to not to embrace it, but at the same time what I’m seeing here, I’d be a “wanna-be” if I claimed so. It’s seems like a lose-lose situation. Just seems very unfair to Beyonce.

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