Observations like Tinashe’s most recent in an xoNecole profile are so categorically obvious that it’s frustrating that they must be said time and again: the entertainment industry as a whole has a racial bias against black women, which adversely affects all the black women within it.

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“For me, I feel like I still have to represent the [Black] community. That has been what has been my struggle because people do feel like there is only room for one. There is a Beyoncé, there is a Rihanna, there is Zendaya, there is a Jourdan Dunn. There is a Black girl in all of these positions and we don’t need another one.

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.”

These quotes were in the context of colorism, as well: “If a Black girl is winning,” said Tinashe, “Whether she is lightskin, darkskin, or any type of shade in between, that should be a win for the Black community, period.”

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That’s in response to assertions that Tinashe is unexceptional, allowed to flourish as she has because of her light skin tone; it’s undeniable, of course, that colorism is an insidious racism within racism, that women with darker skin may not get the roles that women with lighter skin might. As xoNecole points out, Jesse Williams “is aware that his fairer skin has allowed him into certain spaces,” and leverages that privilege to speak out about racial justice.

Tinashe’s had a banner year—she dropped a wonderful mixtape (which, like her past mixtapes, she produced); toured with both Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry; dropped two songs from her 2016 album Joyride; and wrote for others, including the forthcoming single for Fifth Harmony. She’s been hovering in or around the Billboard top 10 R&B songs for months (with “Player,” which unfortunately features Chris Brown) and more recently on the R&B album charts (with her song on The Buffet, an album unfortunately by R. Kelly).

When Jezebel spoke with her in November, she discussed her work ethic—now 22, she’s been in the entertainment industry since she was just a toddler, and spent her teen years in television roles and in a girl group called The Stunners. One of those TV roles was Two and a Half Men with Charlie Sheen, whose recent admission that he is HIV-positive has lent Tinashe some drive to promote safe sex, she tells xoNecole. “You know these guys want to hit it without condoms,” she said. “Make them wear condoms. That’s the bottom line.”


Contact the author at julianne@jezebel.com.

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