Dark Skinned Activist Vs. Kendrick Lamar

First of all, I don't ever recall Kendrick Lamar calling himself a "conscious" rapper. I'm assuming because of his adamancy to have the dark skinned model star as his love interest in his 2013 "Poetic Justice" music video, his latest song "Blacker The Berry", and his surprise album that released last month (with many "pro-Black" themes in the songs), he was expected to have a girlfriend that looks, what is to be thought of as "fully Black".

This weekend, a woman named Rashida Marie Strober, who dubs herself as the "Dark Skinned Activist", stated on Facebook that she would no longer be supporting Kendrick's music because of his recent announcement of his engagement to his long-time girlfriend and high school sweetheart, Whitney Alford. If you haven't guessed it or saw pictures of the couple, Kendrick's fiancee is a lighter skinned woman.

Image: Bossip.com

While I do think it's ridiculous for Ms. Strober and many others to be going so hard at Kendrick Lamar, I understand their frustrations to an extent. There does seem to be a pattern of hypocrisy for some conscious/pro-Black artists and leaders to embrace Blackness and Black womanhood and manhood, but turn around and marry a non-Black person. (That's debatable on how problematic it is or is not) In the media, we always witness a pattern of Black male celebrities date, marry, and have children with women who are either lighter skinned Black women or non-Black women. It's no secret that lighter skin, long, curly and straight hair, and overall more Eurocentric features are praised and Afrocentric features are viewed as unattractive. In lyrics, music videos, magazines, films, and other media genres, many lighter skinned Black women and non-Black women are put on a pedestal as the standard of beauty. As we already understand, and if you don't, I encourage you to research, in American society, White, or closest to it, is "right". Anything "closest to White" is labeled as a symbol of "success."

From childhood to adulthood, many Black women have been told verbally, due to the generational effects of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, and subconsciously, through media consumption, that Black is not accepted. Growing up and having people tell you how bad nappy hair is, how ugly dark skin is, and then turning on the television to witness an on going theme of lighter skinned Black women and non-Black women be praised by Black men must mean that Black is a marker of shame. I think Ms. Strober is very hurt and

I also think this critique of Ms. Whitney Alford brings up another dialogue of lighter skinned Black women being ostracized in the Black community. After watching the "Light Girls" documentary, it shed a lot of light of the struggle that lighter skinned Black women experience, contrary to popular belief that they have no struggles. We don't know Ms. Alford's background. We don't know her ethnicity or racial make-up. We don't know her parents, or how she grew up. Based off the fact that many of are just now finding out that Kendrick has been in a relationship, not that that was any of our business in the first place, we damn sure don't know anything about their relationship. We just saw pictures of Ms. Alford and made assumptions based off societal stereotypes that have been brainwashed into our psyches. To devalue someone else's Blackness because they're of a lighter shade causes more of a divide and is blatantly ignorant.

Image: Bossip.com


In regards to the controversy that Ms. Strober has ignited, I can tell she's very hurt and tired of seeing the same standard of beauty being praised. Many Black women are hurt, sick, and tired of being belittled by society and other Black people. However, I do not think it's right to force or pressure anyone to withhold a relationship with someone of a certain skin shade so someone else's self-esteem or confidence can be lifted. No one is entitled to marrying someone of your preference. It baffles me that some people feel that it is their duty to pressure people to live how they think they should live, all the while going bananas when someone tells them how to live. The fact that people are taking an almost decade long relationship they know nothing of personally (as if it is a blatant attack against Black women) is ludicrous and insane. The hypocrisy is real in this situation and it is strong. Does this mean every "pro-Black" person who embraces dark skin should only date and marry a dark skinned individual? I like the fact that Ms. Strober is a "Dark Skinned Activist" because Lord knows dark skinned Black women are constantly shitted on, but being a dark skinned supremist and spewing hateful rhetoric from behind a computer screen is not the move and it will not bring equality or unity within the Black community.

Although many people are referencing his relationship choice to Kendrick's decision to have a darker skinned woman start in his music video and the overall pro-Black lyrics he has been spitting lately, that does not mean he is required to date a woman of a certain shade of Black. It does not make him a "fake conscious rapper" because of his fiance's skin color and just because she is of a lighter shade does not mean he cannot praise Blackness or dark skinned Black women. Every light-skinned-dark-skinned relationship is not created off of one party's discomfort of their own Blackness or desire to move up the social ladder.

To be quite frank, and please correct me if I'm wrong, Kendrick Lamar never claimed to be a "conscious artist" (many of you all gave him that title because you love placing people in boxes), he never claimed to be a leader for Black people (many of you all also love placing celebrities on such high pedestals they never wanted to be on because you are searching for a hero). So why he is being dragged by people who are probably not even fans, nor purchased his music is beyond me. Stop living vicariously through celebrities and stop looking for validation through other people's lives, lyrics, images, and relationships.

I think this issue shows why it is important that we put down the glass of media kool-aid and create and support our own positive images showcasing Black people of all shades. It's very discouraging that colorism still runs so rampant and is so deeply embedded in our global Black communities. The image propaganda we constantly consume from the media often disguised as "just entertainment" makes the dire situation no better. It is extremely important that Black people make it a personal responsibility and goal to decolonize our minds for ourselves and our children. Creating healing circles, seeking counseling, prayer, and self-love practice are some suggestions of how defeat the mental slavery many of us unknowingly undergo from a day to day basis. The future generations do not deserve to have to carry this load on their backs. No one should feel inferior or superior based off a skin shade. This battle we fight is more mental than anything else.


While reflecting on this message, what are ways you can help end colorism?

-Kendro

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