Lilian Min
December 29, 2015 6:45 pm

Tinashe is the kind of performer who might’ve seemed destined to succeed: A quadruple threat (singing on top of acting, dancing, and modeling) whose career started young and who has steadily risen to the forefront of pop culture. But in a recent interview with xoNecole, the R&B star dropped some insight as to how race, colorism, and gender play into how pop stars, particularly female ones, are packaged out and received by the industry.

Now, with a work ethic that’s put out five releases of original material (four mixtapes, one smash debut album in Aquarius) and a new album Joyride coming out next year, as well as tours with Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj under her belt, it should be clear that Tinashe can hold her own both within and without her genre. But when asked about how she fits in with her contemporaries, particularly other black and biracial celebrities, the singer thoughtfully addressed both how colorism (or, discrimination based on skin shades that suggests “lighter is better”) and racism affect her and other WOC differently:

“I think it comes from a place of there is only room for one. Or there is only room for two. Again, the way I see it, obviously, is if a Black girl is winning – whether she is lightskin, darkskin, or any type of shade in-between, that should be a win for the Black community, period. But it’s not necessarily always perceived as such. It’s like ‘Oh, she’s on the more lighter spectrum, so that is why she wins.’”

She continued, “It’s just kind of ridiculous because there are like a hundred blonde, white actresses and leading ladies. There are a hundred rappers that all virtually look the same, sound the same, and dress the same and no one cares. But for some reason, when it comes to young women, they want to pit them against each other. There can’t be room [for us all]. There can’t be five Black girls winning. It’s weird.”

Though the effects of colorism can’t and shouldn’t be boiled down to something that affects all WOC equally, it’s refreshing for a pop idol to speak candidly about race, gender, inter-racial discrimination, and the intersections between. Here’s hoping to a 2016 that proffers up more conversations that start at this level, and go up from here.

Related reading:

LOVE this: Sia, Charli XCX, Tinashe lend their voices to an all-female covers album

27 best albums made by and featuring women in 2015

Image via Shutterstock.

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