In an interview with Ebony to promote his new book, Racism: From the Eyes of A Child, Mathew Knowles revealed just how much colorism affected him and the Black community.
In the interview, Knowles explains that he was taught colorism from an early age. “When I was growing up, my mother used to say, ‘Don’t ever bring no nappy-head Black girl to my house,'” he said. “In the deep South in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, the shade of your blackness was considered important. So I, unfortunately, grew up hearing that message.”
He added that things weren’t much different when he went off to college. At Fisk University, Knowles said he still faced colorism. “They had a colorism issue there. I was in the last class where they’d take out a brown paper bag, and if you were darker than the bag, you could not get into Fisk.”
Knowles added that he developed an “eroticized rage,” which is one of the reasons he initially approached ex-wife Tina Knowles-Lawson. “One day I had a breakthrough. I used to date mainly white women or very high-complexion black women that looked white… I had been conditioned from childhood. Within eroticized rage, there was actual rage in me as a black man, and I saw the white female as a way, subconsciously, of getting even or getting back.”
He added, “I actually thought when I met Tina, my former wife, that she was white. Later I found out that she wasn’t, and she was actually very much in-tune with her blackness.”
Lawson and Knowles were married for nearly 30 years before Lawson filed for divorce in 2009. The couple have two daughters together, Beyoncé and Solange.
Continuing his discussion about colorism, Knowles went on to say, “I challenge my students at Texas Southern to think about this. When it comes to Black females, who are the people who get their music played on pop radio? Mariah Carey, Rihanna, the female rapper Nicki Minaj, my kids, and what do they all have in common?”
The interviewer then answered the question, “They’re all lighter skinned.”