As far back as I can remember, “mulatto” was a derogatory word. So when I first discovered rapper Mulatto, I was taken aback she chose it as her stage name. But times have change quite a bit since I was in elementary school, so I played my own devil’s advocate and supposed there was power in taking back the word. Whatever the case, those were my first and last thoughts on Mulatto until recently when I saw her again in the WAP video and alongside Gucci Mane in the visuals for her song Muwop. Sis is also on the 2020 XXL Freshman Cover. Despite how I feel about her name, she is doing her thing. I salute.
Today, Mulatto and fellow rising femcee Light Skin Keisha are Twitter topics over their stage name. Twitter user, Yanncé started a Twitter thread that has over 11,000 RTs and tons of polarizing comments. “Light Skin Keisha and Mulatto could’ve had more support if they chose different names. I said what I said,” she wrote.
As annoying as it is to myself to constantly fall off the colorism cliff, I agree.
You may know Light Skin Keisha from Love & Hip Hop Atlanta where she made a small appearance before beefing with rapper Akbar V. Her name, she says was inspired, by the character Kisha in Belly, who was respected as a boss.
“She’s like a dark-skinned Kisha… I just loved the role that she played. She played the whole boss female… she handled the business. They respected her,” she said in an interview with DJSmallEyez.
She denounced claims her moniker was a form of colorism or that she was a colorist.
“Before you get to judging or assuming that someone is this or that… you have to understand where the meaning of that name comes from. And that name does not come from anything being colorist… I’ve never in no way shape or form – in no way period – have ever used a skin tone against somebody. Check my resume.”
I’m not here to debate if Mulatto and Light Skin Keisha are colorist, their names however are jarring and perpetuate colorism in an industry that has made it abundantly clear light skin is the preference. And biracial women are exoticized. Mulatto and Light Skin Keisha may not be colorist, by their definition, but they sure sound like “pick mes.” To answer my own headline question, “Do rapper names like Light Skin Keisha and Mulatto perpetuate colorism?” Yes. Whether it is intentional or not it is a privilege in a society that reinforces light is right.
Yanncé’s tweets sparked a long conversation online and fans of the artists came to their defense.
What say you readers? See everyone’s reactions, below:
Girlllllllll. Thank you for saying this. I’ve been trying to figure out how to express my feelings about this in words. The stage names just don’t sit right with me. It’s part of the reason I haven’t really gotten into their music. Mulatto got a cool lil accent though.— Subscribe: Take2Tay (@_TeeNicholle) August 13, 2020
I don’t mind their names but you’re definitely right about the audience. When I see their names I receive it as that’s the audience they want to cater to and I mind my black ass business because I understand everything isn’t for me or made for me to enjoy.— Jazmin Keyara (@Jazmin_Keyara) August 13, 2020
Idk about LSK but Mulatto said whole she was on the Rap Game that she was called that as an insult growing up and she wanted to take the power from it and make her name associated with something good. I think that’s valid 🤷🏾♀️— billy (@bennyblancc) August 13, 2020
to this day but my daughter won’t let me 🙄, she’s all about women’s empowerment and she’s forgiving 🙄🙄) ... I said all that to say this ... light skinned women understand their privilege completely... phuck light skinned keisha and mulatto EMPHATICALLY! ... full stop !— Medusa_Head_Pon_She (@KindOfSnobish) August 14, 2020
I agree on LightSkinKeisha but Mulatto is fine to me because 1 that word is old a lot of kids don’t know what it means, 2 that’s what she literally is and the name has a star ring to it, 3 she has a loyal strong fan base and it would be dumb to change her name after all this time— Queen Tingz 👑🦄 (@QueenTingzbby) August 13, 2020
My face the first time hearing their names pic.twitter.com/xjYXG2kavV— Joe Chill (@QbertQueso) August 13, 2020
And see that is my problem with this stage name. It's one thing for her to reclaim a term for heeself and refer to herself that way but now the people who should never use that term or do not wish to ever use that term must use it too in order to refer to you.— gluhwurmchen (@thevickeh) August 14, 2020
I agree. They could’ve created better stage names. I remember the first time I saw light skin Keisha... she not really that! But funnier is how people don’t get that’s your opinion! Not wrong or right but yours!— Ms. Janae (@janae_secrets) August 14, 2020
Yall make everything deeper than what it has to be can they just live their life like there is 7 billion mf on this earth trying to live their life but yall gotta make a big deal over names pic.twitter.com/KnJ100V3yV— Officialzayrose (@officialzayrose) August 13, 2020