Beyoncé, who has been virtually untouchable as a performer and black icon, is drawing widespread scorn for allowing her face to be darkened for a Paris fashion shoot, honoring Nigerian musician and human rights activist Fela Kuti.
Ironically Beyoncé and husband Shawn Carter aka, Jay-Z, backed the production of Fela! on Broadway.
The photo shoot appears in L’Officiel Paris’s 90th anniversary issue. Beyonce wears traditional African clothes, but in at least one photo her face was noticeably darker.
“Far from the glamorous Sasha Fierce… [it is] a return to her African roots, as you can see on the picture, on which her face was voluntarily darkened,” the magazine said in a statement.
But reaction to the photo has been uniformly negative.
“As a fan of Fela Kuti, a man who was passionate about the freedom of Blacks/Africans throughout the Diaspora, I’m not quite sure as to how blackface pays tribute to him,” writes Charing Ball, an African American, in the Atlanta Post.
“I’m not quite sure as to why she would agree to do a photo shoot that associates her with one of the most deeply rooted racist images in American history.
“Nor do I understand the L’Officiel Paris’ rationale that to revel in one’s “African roots,” they have to be “far away from glamorous” and fierce.
The French appear to be obsessed with black-faced models.
French Vogue featured a 14 pages of white Dutch model Lara Stone in blackface.
Blackface became synonymous with racism because it was used by white actors to portray black characters at a time when actual black actors were barred from performing because of their race.
“Black folks must have a zero tolerance policy for any manifestation of blackface, period,” Ball writes.
Oddly, Beyoncé appeared in a 2008 L’Oreal ad, in which her skin appeared to be digitally lightened.