Because the light-skinned versus dark-skinned conversations will never die in the Black community, especially concerning Black women, Eric Benet took an opportunity to fuel the conversation with his controversial song “Redbone Girl.” Of course, the song was met with a heavy dose of criticism. Many were blasting him for esteeming light-skinned women as more sexually desirable than dark-skinned women.
The controversy was not lost on him and he defended the song to CBS Local saying that the criticism of the song was a form of racism.
“I think it’s its own form of racism,” he told CBS Local of the controversy. “I did a song called “Chocolate Legs’ about my experience with a dark skin lady. There was no anger or uproar of ‘How dare you.’ So ‘Redbone Girl’ is one song about one experience about a girl who happens to be light complected but there was quite an uproar.”
As far as Benet is concerned, there is a double standard when it comes to how society and singers can express themselves about a woman’s beauty in the black community.
“You can talk about how wonderful it is to be with a dark complected person but how dare you talk about having an experience with light skin person,” he said. “By no way is ‘Redbone Girl’ me professing my preference for any type of skin color. It’s just the songwriter talking about one experience. When people look into it much deeper than that, it’s on them.”
To be sure, Benet is not oblivious to the longtime issues of race and colorism within the black community. He opens ”Redbone Girl” with a type of disclaimer that he hoped would inoculate him against such charges.
“I love all women,” he says on the song’s introduction. “I love them dark and light. Short, tall, thick, thin and back one more ‘gain.”
If we really want to get deep then we can talk about the fact that Chocolate Legs is more sexual than Redbone Girl but, after reading the lyrics, I realize neither songs are very flattering. Who wants to be desired solely based on skin tone anyway?
Still, Eric Benet’s defense is laughable. People throw the “racism” word around too easy. Nobody is “racist” because they don’t like his song. If he called them “oversensitive” then that would be one thing, but as outdated as it may seem, colorism is still a major issue in our community. It’s hard to believe he didn’t see a controversy coming when he made the song. I’m sure he understands that there is a prevailing notion that light-skinned black women are universally preferred, so singing about a dark-skinned woman is unexpected and thus welcomed.
Benet says no matter which side of the argument you stand, songs like “Redbone Girl” ultimately provide an opportunity to have the discussion about how blacks view each other.
“I think the fact that we are talking about it, it’s an issue,” he said. “Now it makes me, on my next record, want to talk about an experinece with an Asian girl. What I was trying to do as a songwriter is talk about the beauty of all. One at a time. The fact that it’s so sensitive, we need to talk about it.”
We do talk about it. We talk about it all the time, but some still find it offensive.
Of course, men and women are allowed to prefer what ever skin tone they want to prefer in another person. It is truly not that serious. Especially considering this man is an admitted sex-addict who stepped out on his marriage despite being married to a “redbone”. And Lil Wayne…well, he’s Lil Wayne and seems to have children with all women without regard to skin tone. Both of these men are an utter mess in relationships thus making their preference a non-issue.
I do think it is important that entertainers pay attention to the messages they put out, but light-skinned girls are worthy of love too and honestly there’s nothing noble about preferring any person solely based on her skin tone whether light-skinned or dark-skinned. And what about those of us who are neither light-skinned nor dark-skinned? Is there a song for us too? Maybe instead of encouraging these entertainers to refrain from singing about light-skinned women, we can ask them to think a little deeper and tell us the reasons why they love us that have nothing do with something as shallow as skin tone.
Watch the video of his interview here:
What do you think? Does the backlash from Eric Benet’s “Redbone” song stem from racism?
Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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