Kendrick Lamar appeared on the latest cover of Rolling Stone and the image has rocked some feminists and pro-Black folks to the core. Lamar is sitting, getting his hair twisted by a woman, who’s stomach and hands are also featured on the cover. We don’t know the ethnic background of this woman, but many critics are claiming that she’s either not Black or not Black enough. What and what?!
Instead of getting to rejoice that one of our fave rappers scored a major magazine cover, we witnessed an unexpected backlash against the alleged racial suggestions of the photo that was chosen. Courtesy of the world’s biggest high school, otherwise known as the Internet, some Black Twitter users were annoyed and actually upset that Lamar’s naturally and beautifully coiled locks were seemingly twisted by a non-Black woman.
First, second, and third of all, we were appalled by the commentary. On the cover itself, we admit that the woman doesn’t look apparently Black. But with a closer look at it and then the release of a 40-second behind the scenes video from the Rolling Stone shoot, the woman appears to be Black. Keyboard thugs were over this woman not being “Black-enough.”*Rolls eyes* This argument again? And from our own community? When did having light skin equate to not being Black enough in 2015?
The OWN documentary Light Girls tried to match the hardships of what historically discriminated against darker-skinned women went through to what light women experience as well. We found the film unnecessary because it only further cemented the separation of what is or isn’t “Black.”
We’re seeing this hurtful cycle again with the Lamar’s Rolling Stone cover even thought it hasn’t been confirmed exactly who the woman is. She’s not even important here. Would a “traditionally” brown or darker-skinned been better?
It would have definitely been great to see someone with a richer skin tone on the cover with Lamar, but if you switched the skin tone, guess what we would still be dealing with? A headless, Black woman on the cover of Rolling Stone. We know that too many Black feminists would’ve gone in about the Black woman being used as a prop. The near-erasure of the woman’s face and the blatant glorification of her flat mid-section is classically sexist, if our feminist minds wanted to go there.
His album To Pimp A Butterfly and the Rolling Stone story haven’t been released yet! Can we hear the album and read the article first before we’re judging the visual?!
Lamar has stood with and for dark skin Black women, like insisting his love interest in “Poetic Justice” be a brown girl (played by Brittany Sky) and his “i” video had lots of dark skin girls featured. With lyrics from his latest single, like: Everything Black, want all things Black/I don’t need Black, want everything Black/Don’t need Black, Our eyes ain’t Black/I own Black, own everything Black,” it’s clear that Lamar is nothing if not a champion for guess what, all things Black!
It is not Kendrick’s responsibility to be some kind of savior for all Black women. It’s beautiful when men stand with us, because we will always stand for them, but Lamar has made it clear lyrically and visually that he supports Black women. Not everything he does, from his album cover to magazine covers has to reflect that every time.
The conversation has been lit on social media since the cover’s been out. The entire controversy of this hot topic is the latest example we’re of looking for every possible chance to get angry or uproar about implied or suggested accounts of racism or racial selection. And this is getting extremely out of hand.
Brutal and blatant incidents of racism, like the frat boys of SAE is one thing, but to now have Kendrick Lamar’s cover art, both on Rolling Stone and his album cover spark conversations about the skin tone–we’re misguided and in the words of Kanye, we’re “worried about the wrong things.”