“I think a lot of people are going to be shocked with this video, this is my comeback,” he said. “I’m back, homie. We’re going to bring class, tact and good energy back to these videos. "
His Black female fans were “shocked," but surely not in the way “Jody” anticipated.
There was nothing classy or tactful about the video, and of the 15-20 women featured on set, there was just one Black female model among a mix of White, Asian and women of non-descript, multi-ethnic origin.
“You still should remember where you came from and bring a little home,” wrote an ESSENCE.com commenter. “By the way WHERE "DID" YOU COME FROM? The ignorance of your having been brainwashed by what you see as beautiful always comes out. Bring a little back home. It doesn’t even have to be by putting a ring on, just stay true to your people."
When fans questioned him about the lack of Black women, Ty responded on Twitter: "I had a 2 day audition. I welcomed ALL women and went with the BEST. I don't do favors... Doesn't matter the race!! I'm Black as sh--!!! Love my sisters!! You do auditions and go for the BEST! Not race! Love u!"
“Best," of course, is subjective. And it says a lot about the preferences of Compton born singer-turned-actor that he refers to complexion “as sh--" and that the “best” happened to be a room full of non-Black women. This is a ongoing issue with Black men of a certain stature who prefer an “exotic” woman over the women who birthed them, raised them, and supported them until they got put on and had the option to explore “other” women who look nothing at all like them.
For excluding Black women, some will rake Tyrese over the clichéd coals (and I get why as ignoring his core fan base makes no sense), but I won’t, and it has nothing to do with how fine, chiseled and talented he is.
I know Black women want to be represented and thought of as desirable, (especially when our support makes them famous and wealthy), but this isn’t the way we need to be seen to feel appreciated or have our beauty validated. The video was a virtual smut-fest with oiled-up women on all-fours in barely-there lingerie wriggling, grinding and dry humping one another as Tyrese croons lyrics such as, “I f---s with her hard/ She’s my lil’ ghetto sex soldier.”
I would love to see Black women admired and treasured, but it has to be for more than a cliché of what too many music videos have become -- expensive ambiance and scantily clad women at a man’s beck and call. Surely, Black women can live another day without being reduced to (or in some twisted male way, celebrated for) the crass role that Tyrese offers here.
Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. She has recently been nominated for an African American Literary Award. Vote for her now on literaryawardshow.com