Tinashe Sparks Debate with Race-Related Commentary

While Tinashe continues working on her long-awaited album Joyride, the singer’s latest interview has become the source of controversy.

In a new feature from The Guardian, the pop songstress discussed her problems with sexism and colorism. “It’s so much easier for male artists,” she said. “There are hundreds of [male] rappers that all look the same, that sound the same, but if you’re a black woman, you’re either Beyoncé or Rihanna. It’s very, very strange.”

According to the “Flame” singer, Ciara suffered as a result of this very issue. “It felt like they almost had to sacrifice someone because there wasn’t enough room, which isn’t true,” she added. “Ciara’s an amazing artist, Beyoncé’s an amazing artist, Rihanna’s an amazing artist, and they’re all very different!”

During the interview, Tinashe also pointed to “colourism” as a problem. “There’s colourism involved in the black community, which is very apparent,” she said. “It’s about trying to find a balance where I’m a mixed woman, and sometimes I feel like I don’t fully fit into the black community; they don’t fully accept me, even though I see myself as a black woman. That disconnect is confusing sometimes…I am what I am.”

It was the latter comment, in particular, that fueled critics online. Author Michael Arceneaux tweeted: “I really think Tinashe is talented and there is a struggle for Black girls in music, but this interview ain’t it and is totally unhelpful. I don’t even think most people knew Tinashe was mixed. Her name is Tinashe. Girl, we clocked in on your Blackness. The Blacks will usually lend a helping hand even if you only give us one and a half of a bop. Don’t blame us even partially.”

New York magazine’s Craig Jenkins added: “Tinashe career feels type hexed but she is correct that dudes in the biz with very little distinguishing characteristics still get to eat…Pinning her difficulty connecting to people on black community social politics when the music isn’t as sharp as it needs to be is..something.”

Fans went in on this notion, as well. “What is tinashe on? A light skin mixed chick blaming colorism for the lack of success in her career,” said one Twitter user. Another added: “Beyonce is light skinned. Mariah Carey is biracial. Rihanna is light skinned. J Cole & Drake are biracial. We’re just not into YOU Tinashe.”

This was echoed by others, including one fan who wrote: “The Black community won’t elevate Tinashe to the same level as other artists b/c her creative team is trash + time and artistic evolution.”

Others, however, seemed to side with the singer. “Tinashe made valid points about how she isn’t seen as Black ENOUGH to some Black people,” tweeted a fan. “That is very much true for some mixed ppl.” Another Twitter user added support. “This will pass,” she wrote. “You got this. P.S. I felt the same way in school also!”

Tinashe’s years-in-the-making a;bum Joyride is due this year. However, the pop songstress said she isn’t done with it just yet. “It’s not like it’s sitting in a vault locked up, it’s always getting better and improving,” she explained in The Guardian piece. “I plan on doing a solid few more months recording then hopefully getting it out this year…hopefully. It’s going to be great. They’re going to be the best songs!”