Posted on February 6, 2018

Beyoncé’s Father Takes On ‘Colorism’: He Dated Her Mother Because He Thought She Was White

Travis M. Andrews and Amber Ferguson, Washington Post, February 5, 2018

Racism is a common topic in the mainstream media. But an insidious cousin, colorism, gets less attention. Novelist Alice Walker defined colorism an 1982 essay as “prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color.” In other words, it’s the concept of prejudice within a race against someone because of their skin tone.


Most recently, Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé’s father and former manager, decided to use his celebrity in an attempt to highlight the issue of colorism — even if it meant exposing an unpleasant truth about himself.


He was born in 1952 in Gadsden, Alabama, a small city about 60 miles northeast of Birmingham. Knowles said his experiences in the South led to his prejudice against dark-skinned black women, even though he is black himself.

“When I was growing up, my mother used to say, ‘Don’t ever bring no nappy-head Black girl to my house,”‘ Knowles told Ebony. {snip}

With that in mind, Knowles said he “used to date mainly White women or very high-complexion Black women that looked White.”

When he met Tina Knowles-Lawson, she appeared white to him, he said, which is why he began dating and eventually married her.

“I had been conditioned from childhood,” he said. “With eroticized rage, there was actual rage in me as a Black man, and I saw the White female as a way, subconsciously, of getting even or getting back. There are a lot of Black men of my era that are not aware of this thing.”