If I Had Interviewed Quincy Jones, I Would’ve Asked Him About His Views On Colorism And…
Well, basically I would’ve just pushed him on the topic of colorism — and hopefully expanded into how he thinks his actions contributed to the miserable treatment that is still afforded Black women — who are dark-skinned and void of any of the prized features that men like him value.
The only “Catwoman” that matters — Eartha Kitt — famously summed up her experience when it came to dating the eligible Black bachelors of her era:
The men I wanted to be with, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, dated predominately white women. I’m talking about the 50s. When Harry Belafonte picks me out of his bed in Philadelphia and said: ‘I don’t want you to take me seriously because no Black woman can do anything for me’. I could not help him to progress into where he was going to go. “A black woman would hold a black man back’, that’s what he told me. If I wanted to marry a black man there wasn’t one because the white girls had them.”
Quincy Jones is currently trending at the age of almost eighty-five — and naturally the first thing that comes to mind is the worst case scenario — until you peep that not only did he curse out The Beatles — but he proudly reminisces about that one time he and Ivanka Trump hung out — twelve years ago.
I used to date Ivanka, you know. Yes sir. Twelve years ago. Tommy Hilfiger, who was working with my daughter Kidada, said, “Ivanka wants to have dinner with you.” I said “No problem. She’s a fine motherfucker.” She had the most beautiful legs I ever saw in my life. Wrong father, though.
Of course it’s hard to avoid doing the math — even though you know the result will be fucked up — regardless. Jones was seventy-two when he indulged in the “most beautiful legs” attached to “a fine motherfucker” who was about twenty-four at the time. The forty-eight-year age gap is quite disturbing on every level and it summons the query of why Jones felt the need to divulge something that scandalous during a climate that is too sensitive to host such damning revelations.
It’s quite possible that the forty-eight-year-old version of himself would have been careful “not to go there” but judging from the varied reception to his latest exposé — it seems that he’s being given a pass based on the privilege of his advanced age.
Either way — it’s quite unsettling that Jones happily brags about a fling with a woman old enough to be his grand-daughter and despite his esteemed state of maturity — there’s the strong indication that when it comes to fessing up about romantic ties with famous White women — Black men have no issue raising their hands — despite the implications.
I would’ve pressed further into the topic of colorism on the heels of his surprising admission as a way to delve deeper into his insatiable appetite for non-Black women — particularly — White women. A lifetime habit that he openly shares with his comrades who also inhabited an era that mercilessly challenged their integrity.
Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, James Earl Jones and Quincy Jones were a handful of Black men trying to navigate the entertainment industry during the sixties — which to their credit was no small feat — when you consider what they were up against. The turbulent times called for desperate measures and the willingness to do whatever it took to maintain the momentum needed to compete with their White counterparts.
All four men enjoyed illustrious careers amidst the racial strife that gripped the nation and history has recorded the consistent years of activism and humanitarian efforts that continue to dominate their existence.
However — the other symbolic characteristic they have in common is the fact that they chose to be romantically involved with White women — as a way to secure their status in a society that demanded their ability to successfully prove their viability and virility with public pride.
They may have marched the streets in defiance of the suffocating temperament of inequality — but in their personal endeavors — there wasn’t much flexibility. They each married White women and produced offspring that reflect the choice to parent children with superior qualities.
It’s likely that if queried — Jones would insist his decision to only date and marry White women was something that happened organically based on his station in life. He wouldn’t deny or downplay his track record because he lived through a time when it was almost impossible to escape the temptation of authenticating your worth as a Black man — without aiming for the ultimate prize.
Here’s an excerpt from an interview Jones recently gave to GQ:
“Here’s what you’ve got to understand: The interracial thing was part of a revolution, too.” “Because back in the ’40s and stuff, they would say, ‘You can’t mess with a white man’s money.… Don’t mess with his women.’ We weren’t going to take that shit. Charlie Parker, everybody there, was married to a white wife.”
Truth be told — it’s a hard slap in the face as a Black woman to witness Jones boldly declare how “interracial” dating “was part of a revolution” when in the same breath — he denounces the audacity of White supremacy as if he truly comprehends the tragedy of placing another human being above another in an act of aggression with the assignment of degradation.
The disease of colorism is still a major cause for concern in the Black community and the world-at-large.
European based cosmetic companies are thriving from the unbeatable demand for skin-lightening creams that are exported with urgent frequency to African countries like Nigeria and Ghana. The high demand for these offensively-polluted products is spearheaded by the constant stream of images in the media that elevate the global endorsement of the White aesthetic or anything that closely matches the automatic default.
As the conversation around this sensitive topic continues to broaden — the confessionals are streaming in from unlikely sources as a way to profitably benefit from the latest trend.
The father of Beyonce and Solange — Mathew Knowles is currently on a book tour — and his interview with Ebony magazine reveals how he was molded from childhood to reject women that weren’t White or bright. He claims he assumed the mother of his two famous daughters was a White woman when they first met. He also confirms that his eldest daughter’s meteoric rise couldn’t have happened so seamlessly if she was sheathed in dark skin.
Knowles was hailed for his disarming honesty — despite the fact that dark-skinned women like singer-songwriter India. Arie have been calling out this level of discrimination in their industry — for decades. How convenient that Knowles chooses this time to offload his soul — in an attempt to be earnestly refreshing.
If I had interviewed Quincy Jones — I would’ve done a deep dive into his psyche and uprooted the self-hatred that he parades around as misguided awareness or even worse “a revolt” against White men — who dared him to go where he clearly worked hard as fuck to freely venture and settle.
As Black History Month unfolds — we have to face the ugliness of our past and how it continues to haunt the present with righteous vengeance. It’s hard to receive how much more work needs to be done as well as the disappointment that laces the legacy of the icons who stubbornly refuse to consider how their actions raised the contagiousness of a still virulent practice.
Let the conversation continue…