Mixing It Up

Observations and ideas about race, ethnicity and mixing.

The 2Cs (Creolization and Colorism)

My first introduction to the term Creole was when I discovered that Tina Knowles was Beyonce’s mother. In Rwanda the knowledge I had about people of African descent living in the diaspora was limited, to me the only introduction to blacks were the movie stars and artists I saw on TV. Hence, I was a big Beyonce fan, thus I knew almost every detail about her life that was out there. So I knew her father was a dark skin man from Alabama and her mom was of Creole descent (to me she looked white). In my mind Creole became associated with being mixed and looking almost white. Once I came to America and met people from different backgrounds that spoke creole I was intrigued not only were they not mixed some of them were as dark as me. Thus, this past week’s reading broke a lot of the previous misconceptions I had about the term and what it means. Going back to Tina Knowles, a while ago I read an article about how Matthew Knowles her ex husband had first thought she was white and was drawn to her in the beginning for that particular reason. He talked about how growing up it was encouraged to marry someone of a lighter skin complexion, he made points about how Beyonce’s light skin features have put her in much better position compared to her more dark skin counterparts. As a Beyonce fan I could not help but pause and really think about that, and to some degree I agree. There is really not that much representation of dark skin women in the music industry or Hollywood. But what baffled me most was the reaction the article received, a lot of people were in opposition and making statements such as “we are all black we go through the same struggle”. Colorism is real in black and communities of color everywhere in the world and it just sets us back as a people if we are in denial of the struggles that some of us still face on a daily basis.

5 Comments

  1. I’ve come to understand colorism as one of the ways to disunite all the kinds of people of color and to distract them from the real evil of white supremacy.

  2. I think it is super interesting how people come to discover and use the word Creole because it takes different meanings in different spaces. Your discovery of the term through Beyoncé reminds me of my own as I was looking up the ethnicity of a famous actress online and came across the term. Doing my online research, I came to associate creole with Louisiana and French descent, but never knew its complicated and multifaceted past and how it effects its current uses in different contexts and geographical locations.

  3. We need to start acknowledging the word Creole especially in America more often. I was brainwashed to think of everyone with dark skin or with any black ancestry as black. For some reason for a long time, I always thought Rihanna was black until I actually searched her up to find out that that isn’t the case. We don’t acknowledge the word Creole and when we do, we only associate it with people mixed or people who look white. Colorism on the other hand is a really big issue that will take a long time for marginalized groups to unlearn. I deal with colorism with people in my family everyday and we never think of how wrong it is to have such mentality.

  4. After reading in class about how ambiguous the definition of creole is, it makes me wonder when and how it is appropriate to use the term. I found your article to be really interesting and regarding colorism, it definitely is real. It is unfortunate to see how people of the same race or ethnicity can discriminate each other by the tone of their skin. It brings back memories of how I would educate family members that it is wrong to label or nickname people by the color of their skin tone.

  5. This reminds me of the controversy surrounding the Nina Simone biopic that was made a while ago starring Zoe Saldana. A lot of Nina Simone’s beliefs, messages, and struggles were centered around her identity as a dark-skinned woman of color, and no actresses with dark complexions were auditioned to play her in the film. Instead, they cast Zoe Saldana, who has a much lighter complexion, and made her skin appear darker and her nose wider through the use of makeup and prosthetics.

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