What’s Wrong With Liking ‘Redbone Girls’?

The backlash over Eric Benet's new ode to a light-skinned lady has this writer seeing red.

Eric Benet and Manuela Testolini (now his wife) in 2009(Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Eric Benet and Manuela Testolini (now his wife) in 2009(Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

For the record, I am well aware that the “color complex” remains a prevalent problem in our community. In fact, I’ve hosted several forums on this through TalkBLACK, the African-American discussion group that I co-founded in Atlanta. I also agree (whether the Willie Lynch Letter is phony or not) that this issue is an unfortunate legacy passed on through the centuries of chattel slavery that we endured in this country.

Knowing this divisive and repugnant aspect of our history should beckon us, collectively, to commit to regularly examining our perceptions of beauty and what we deem attractive in general; revamp our vocabulary (do away with phrases like “good hair,” “fair skin” and any statement that automatically asserts blackness or dark skin as negative); and take the time to learn more about the roots of our deeply entrenched skin-color issues.

Just because this divisive message of light versus dark gets perpetuated every day in everything from music videos to reality television doesn’t mean it should translate into some bogus rule that no black person (Benet included) can ever give props to a light-skinned person. To do so would be perpetuating another form of bigotry and hatred. The fact is that we all need love and want to feel attractive. “Redbones” included!

Chandra Thomas Whitfield is an award-winning freelance journalist and a contributor to a color-complex-themed essay featured in the anthology Family Affair: What It Means to Be African American Today.

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