Last week, we spoke to Warryn Campbell in promotion of his latest compilation album “Warryn Campbell Presents: My Block Inc.” During the conversation, Campbell spoke about accepting responsibility for the infidelity in his marriage, the album, and he even spoke about colorism. Last year, on their TV One reality show, Krista, Warryn and Erica’s oldest daughter, told her mother that she was being made fun of because of her skin tone. We asked Warryn if he had his own conversations with Krista about colorism. He shared that because of his own experiences with both Black and White people, he wanted to prepare his daughter for what she might face.
MN: Your daughter Krista– she had a conversation with Erica about colorism on your reality show. Erica seemed kind of caught off guard by her bringing that up. And I know that she’s had several conversations with her about it since then. So I was wondering if you had spoken with her about colorism?
Warryn: That’s a conversation that I was used to having with my daughter because she’s dark complected like I am. My wife has never heard that from her. That’s a conversation she has with me because she identifies with me in that way, differently from her mother because her mother’s fair-skinned. So much so that when she was three-years-old–this is before we had the other two kids–we were in the bed and Krista was in the middle of us and she said, ‘Mom, how can Dad, a Black man, marry you a White lady?’ And [Erica] said, ‘I’m not White!’ Krista said, ‘Yes, you are.’ She thought her momma was White until she was about six.
So, I wanted to prepare her and tell her how I was treated as a kid, not by necessarily White people–I was treated bad by White people too. But I wanted her to understand how our own people treated me, especially in L.A. L.A. was all about the light skin in the eighties. I got called every black skillet, oil spot, ‘I shot you in the day time, the bullet came back and asked for a flashlight.’ All kind of just–I was discriminated against in school by teachers. In third grade, I had a teacher who would give everybody candy and give me a thing of dental floss or give everybody candy and give me a wet wipe.
There was a girl in that school, her name was Debbie. She created a game and the whole school played it. I was the only Black kid in the third grade at that school. I’d be playing on the playground and bump up against somebody. Anytime I’d touch somebody they had this imaginary spray and they’d spray the Black off of them. Now, at the time, I didn’t have any witty retorts. I wasn’t quick-witted with my tongue but I could knock you out with my fists at eight-years-old. My knuckles are black now because I fought so much. I busted so many lips and noses. I got sent home. ‘Oh he’s violent.’ But that’s just because they were talking about me.
So this girl Debbie, that started the game, I remember I was the only person outside, I was waiting for my mother to come pick me up, then I realized, ‘Oh wait, I’m supposed to walk home today.’ I used to walk a long way from my school to home. [On the way] I seen Debbie and I’m like, ‘I hate her.’ And I saw her run across the street and this car came. Bow, hits her. Knocks her up in the air. And this lady gets out the car, it’s a Black lady. She’s running like, ‘Oh my God.’ Debbie’s laying there and she gets up and started crying, I see blood on her face. She’s crying.
I was like ‘Ahh whatever.’ I didn’t go in the school. I didn’t tell anybody. I just left. And went home. I was so callous. That was a Friday. Monday, we found out Debbie died. I still was like, in my mind, I was like ‘That’s what she gets.’ For an eight-year-old to have gone through that, I didn’t want my daughter to go through the same thing. It was so bad to the point where my son was born, I was glad he was light-skinned so he doesn’t have to feel this, which is terrible.
So I have these conversations with her. Sometimes people treat us differently, even in our own race because we’re darker but you’re beautiful…just building her up. When she was talking to my wife, she said, ‘Well, you don’t understand because you’re light-skinned.’ And my wife had to realize in that moment, she really don’t understand because within our culture, you get treated a little bit better.
MN: Not a little bit.
Warryn: It’s so weird how that works. Let me tell you something that happened to me. I had some razor bumps, bad. I’m getting ready to get married and I got these bad razor bumps. So I go to the dermatologist and he gives me this cream for the razor bumps. I read about it, it says put it on in the morning and night so I did that, everyday. After a while. I was with my friends and they were like, ‘Man, you got on makeup?’ And I was like, ‘No, I ain’t got on makeup.’ I couldn’t see myself but what happened was I didn’t know it was like some bleach or something. So my complexion was light, light. Then I read the bottle again. It said use in the morning and use at night, for a week. It had been three months. I didn’t read that part. My face is just light. We get married and our wedding was on this show back then called “The Wedding Story” on TLC.
Ebony Magazine covered it, JET. So I would see all these comments, ‘Oh Erica Campbell husband is fine.’ I was like, ‘Man ain’t nobody ever called me fine before.’ We go on our honeymoon, I realized what happened. On the honeymoon, I laid on the beach every day because I don’t want to be light. I’m proud of my dark complexion. I said, ‘Okay, I got married a White man. I’m coming back a Black man.’ I came back, now I got my color back. I’m good. I started seeing all these things. ‘Ugh, he’s so ugly.’ It’s been a month. I’m the same cat. Our people are crazy like that. I got the same teeth…cuz my skin is lighter.
I didn’t want [my daughter] to go through that. So I wanted to make her very aware. My wife was just getting that conversation for the first time.