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: