By Nayo Campbell
World-renowned Entrepreneur, Record Label Owner, and Professor Mathew Knowles spoke with Spotlight GM Nayo Campbell, about his latest book Racism from the Eyes of the Child. The book talks growing up in the segregated south, colorism in the media and his hope for the future of America. Knowles also talks how the book was a form of therapy for some of his past that he never quite dealt with. The full interview can be found below and you can purchase his book at any local and online bookstore.
Nayo Campbell: Why did you decide to release this book from the standpoint of a child?
Mathew Knowles: I decided to name it racism from the eyes of a child because for me it started when I was 5 years old. I tell my story all the way from when I was a child to today. I talk about racism, colorism in the music industry, attending Fisk University my junior year; (I’ve never attended a black school until I attended Fisk), and I talk about White America through my experience. The book is to create more dialogue about racism and colorism.
Nayo Campbell: Do you think children and teenagers are having this conversation?
Mathew Knowles: I wanted to tell my story and let young people know, that aren’t really aware, where we came from and about the Civil Rights Movement. I wanted to let them know what it was like getting beaten by the police, spit on by the mob, seeing colored bathrooms and having to wait. I wanted to share how it affected me and the things I internalized even throughout my corporate life.
Nayo Campbell: In the book, you stated that your mom didn’t want you to bring home a nappy headed woman, do you think that was because of her experiences?
Mathew Knowles: I know it was from her experiences. My mother came from a small town, and that is how they felt. They wanted to bleach their hair and skin, and these ideas stemmed from slavery. We get it from the Masters, he would have slave kids and engrained in them to hate the other slaves. Colorism was imposed on these slave women, and they had no other option and this was how they passed it down to other generations.
Nayo Campbell: You released one comment, stating that when it comes to pop music lighter skin women get more airplay. I believe people took it out of context and assumed you meant “that your daughter wouldn’t be famous if she wasn’t light skin”, but that wasn’t what you were saying. Can you explain this comment?
Mathew Knowles: If anyone read the book, they would have said exactly what you just said; and, you are one of the first people to actually say it right. Obviously, they didn’t read the book, let’s start there. I don’t like when people review my book without actually reading it. There was NO MENTION OF BEYONCE in that statement, I talked about Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, she could have been but she’s not. My students at Texas Southern did research and saw that there were no women of darker color, being played on popular radio. That’s a fact.
Nayo Campbell: Do you think this can change?
Mathew Knowles: When I say this, most of your readers will say “You know, I never thought about it.” The purpose of this book is to make you think about it. How can you change something when you never thought about it. For example, recently I was in Philadelphia and I went to a fast food restaurant with my publicist and driver. I went to the restroom and then I washed my hands and the faucet wouldn’t work, it was one of the automatic ones. So I went back to the table got a white piece of a paper, and I put it underneath and it came on automatically. So I told the people at the table, and they couldn’t believe it. Each one of them went and the same thing happened, the faucets are sensitive to your skin color! They come on automatically for white people, but who knows that. The purpose of this book is to bring awareness, we can’t change things we don’t know.
Nayo Campbell: Do you think race plays a role in how much interest the press will have on you when it comes to the entertainment industry?
Mathew Knowles: Absolutely. I just looked at ABC News and Billboard and I am talking about race, and these guys want to talk about something that happens, two years ago which was Solange and the Elevator. That’s a deflection that’s used, and like our president says “fake news,” that’s a deflection that they used. Whether then dealing with a subject, as important as racism we talk about something that’s not newsworthy anymore because it happened 2 or 3 years ago. Let me do something that’s crazy and buffoonery, and it will be everywhere. We aren’t supposed to be knowledgeable or intellectual with the media.
Nayo Campbell: Lastly, how do you want your book to add to the perspective on colorism?
Mathew Knowles: I want people to have critical thinking and perspective. I am hopeful that people will have a perspective and this will spark social courage and have a conversation on colorism. Let’s get folks in a room, let’s talk about it and walk out understanding how we got here. Let’s start there, and see what we can do to make this a better world. I know I can’t ever mend a country racial chaos with a book, but I am sure I can fix a chaotic part of myself by writing this book.
Mathew Knowles, next book will be coming out very soon entitled “The Emancipation of Slaves through Music.” He continues to want people to go out, support both books and of course continue reading! It’s important for us to be educated on subjects like this so that we can continue to grow.