Mathew Knowles has a long interesting resume, with him owning a record label, creating Destiny’s Child, being a professor, and an author. He previously wrote the book, The DNA of Achievers: 10 Traits of Highly Successful Professionals.
Now he is back to writing, and this time, his book dives into his personal life. He recently opened up to Ebony about his upbringing, including how racism and colorism have affected his choices in life. He also touches on how these prejudices affect society and how they play into his the career of his daughter, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.
Here are seven things to know about what he revealed, including the one reason why he says Beyoncé became successful in our music industry.
1. Mathew Knowles wrote a book called Racism: From the Eyes of a Child
The reason the father is making headlines is that he wrote a book called Racism: From the Eyes of a Child. In it, he talks about how racism and colorist became engrained in his mind while growing up in the South and attending mostly white schools.
As Knowles described of his experiences to Ebony:
I grew up in a small town and never went to a Black school. I went to Catholic school with White nuns until the eighth grade, when I was one of six kids to integrate Litchfield Junior High that [at the time] had about 700 or 800 students. Then we integrated Gadsden High. At University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, I was one of the first Blacks there. I didn’t go to a Black school until my junior year of college, when I went to Fisk University.
Next: The author talks about having to undergo “the paper bag test” in college.
2. He says there was colorism even in his historically black university
Sadly, colorism is very much internalized in the black community, so that meant it also was part of the culture at Fisk University. “I was in the last class where they’d take out a brown paper bag, and if you were darker than the bag, you could not get into Fisk,” he told Ebony.
Next: The former talent manager said his mother had strong words about who he can date.
3. Knowles’ mother also showed signs of prejudice
Colorism is often passed on by previous generations, and Knowles dives into how his mother discouraged him from dating certain women.
“When I was growing up, my mother used to say, ‘Don’t ever bring no nappy-head Black girl to my house.’ In the deep South in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, the shade of your Blackness was considered important,” he told Ebony. “So I, unfortunately, grew up hearing that message.”
Next: Knowles talks about coming to a realization through therapy.
4. He realized in therapy that he was following a pattern
The Destiny’s Child creator then said he had a breakthrough from going to therapy about his upbringing.
“[In the book] I talk about going to therapy and sharing–one day I had a breakthrough–that I used to date mainly White women or very high-complexion Black women that looked White,” he told Ebony.
Next: Knowles shockingly mistook his ex-wife for this when they first dated.
5. He said he thought Tina Knowles Lawson was white
The father also opened up about how colorism affected his love life to the point where he mainly dated white women.
“I actually thought when I met Tina, my former wife, that she was White,” he told Ebony. “Later I found out that she wasn’t, and she was actually very much in-tune with her Blackness.”
Next: This is what the father said about his daughter’s career.
6. He says colorism may be a reason why Beyoncé is successful
When talking about colorism, an interviewer pointed out that it still exists in the music industry. Knowles then told Ebony, “I challenge my students at Texas Southern to think about this. When it comes to Black females, who are the people who get their music played on pop radio? Mariah Carey, Rihanna, the female rapper Nicki Minaj, my kids [Beyoncé and Solange], and what do they all have in common?”
When the interviewer pointed out they are all lighter-skinned, Knowles asked, “Do you think that’s an accident?,” implying that her lighter complexion may have played a role in Beyonce’s success.
Next: Knowles talks about rage from what he was taught.
7. Knowles talks about eroticized rage
He then explained how his experiences as a child were internalized in him as an adult. “I had been conditioned from childhood,” he told Ebony “With eroticized rage, there was actual rage in me as a Black man, and I saw the White female as a way, subconsciously, of getting even or getting back. There are a lot of Black men of my era that are not aware of this thing.”
Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.
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