Did Aaliyah’s Career Benefit From People Thinking She Was Biracial?
I’m the wrong person to ask about a person’s ethnicity. I can see Black in a lot of people—like a lot. My favorite line is “I know my people when I see them.” Since the human race began in Africa, I tend to see African features or potentially African features in a lot of people. Plus, I grew up around quite a few biracial children. What I know is that you never know how genes will shake out.
Keeping that in mind, there was never a question that the late singer Aaliyah was anything but a Black woman. She was on the lighter side of the color spectrum but she looked like a Black woman, with a Black woman’s hair.
Yet, as far back as 2008, people on internet forums, have been wondering if the singer was biracial. They attribute this question to the length of her hair—which was straightened and later, enhanced by extensions and her light skin. Don’t shoot the messenger, y’all. I know Black girls can have long hair—especially when there’s a relaxer involved.—I’m just telling you what the internet has said.
Given the outrage when Alexandra Shipp was cast to play her in the Lifetime biopic, I don’t know how this became a thing, but here we are.
Since Aaliyah’s racial makeup has become a part of the conversation, there are even people who were wondering if we can attribute at least some of her success to the possibility that people thought she was a biracial woman.
I don’t think it would be a stretch to argue that Aaliyah’s skin complexion and the length of her hair helped her in the music industry. But I think most people recognized that she was Black.
I think it’s human nature to elevate the status, impact and importance of a person after he or she dies, specially such a talented artist who died so young and unexpectedly. Aaliyah, for her tragic death, has been amplified to near angelic status. And in the quest for the younger generation to understand her and for people who are still yearning for information about the singer, people want to create things to make her more interesting and appealing.
What’s unfortunate though is that they had to make her biracial in order to do so.
Did you ever have any questions about Aaliyah’s race?