India Arie sparked some pretty ridiculous controversy on the web when she released the promo cover for her new single “Cocoa Butter.” The famously Afrocentric R&B singer was criticized for appearing to have a lighter complexion. While some suggested the image was altered, others went so far as to suggest Arie has chemically lightened her skin.
TMZ posted an image contrasting the promo shot with a recent performance photo and argued, “India approved the photo, and HAD to notice it wasn’t a true reflection of her skin color.” Which, frankly, begs the question: So, what?
Arie has a good sense of humor about the situation and took to Twitter to respond to the criticism:
“Personally speaking! i’m happy to say I have NOT BLEACHED my skin LOL! ROTF at the thought.”“1. I wouldn’t endanger my health that way 2. i’m so in love with myself I have no DESIRE to BLEACH myself. Lol 3. The GLOW you see IS (magnificent) lighting 4. THE LIGHT you see, Well thats all ME!!”“politically speaking racism/colorism in the black community is a MUUUUUUUCH larger #SongVersation #skinversaton THAT I’d LOVE to “shed light on”..that conversation IS REAL, …let’s keep talking.”“Oh! And yes! I love my #brownskin more than EVER! MUUUUUUUCH longer conversation.”
Arie is certainly not the first Black artist to be forced to respond to such claims. Singer and actress Tamar Braxton once had to tell the world via a BET interview, “It’s not my fault that I’m light-skinned and, no, I don’t bleach [my skin]. But don’t get it twisted; I would if I wanted to.”
The situation calls to mind lyrics from Arie’s 2007 Grammy-nominated single, “I Am Not My Hair,” which speaks to critics of her varying ethnic hairstyles. “I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am a soul that lives within,” Arie sings. Perhaps this skin lightening drama will promote not only some (apparently) much needed “skinversation,” but hopefully another great song or two as well.