Why It’s Wrong, Stupid, And Self-Defeating To Be Mad About Eric Benet’s “Redbone Girl”

Perhaps my favorite aspect of Twitter is how our reactions to it instinctively let us know exactly how “relevant” a star currently happens to be. For instance, no one bats an eye if a name like Obama, Lebron, or Rihanna is repeatably showing up in people’s mentions. The same concept could be applied to someone like Stevie J, except that for someone like him, their “relevance” is completely time dependent. (In Stevie J’s case, it’s dependent on whether “Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta” is currently airing or if Joseline has murdered him yet)

On the other hand, you have celebrities so far off the current relevancy grid that their name trending only inspires one immediate reaction:

“Oh shit, **** just died!”

With that being said, you can imagine my elation last week when seeing Eric Benet’s name all over Twitter, immediately thinking he was dead, feeling bad, feeling even worse for not feeling as bad as I thought I should, feeling completely shitty for asking myself if it would be wrong to sleep with a woman who used to be married to a dead guy, and feeling much better when seeing that he was in fact alive and that the only reason why he was trending was because of a song he recently released.

The song? “Redbone Girl.” The tweet-able issue? Some people were feeling a certain way about the fact that he devoted an entire song to light-skinned Black women.

After listening to the song and reading a few of the articles devoted to it, I knew what my official stance would be — “This controversy is so f*cking stupid it’s making my ears bleed” — but I wasn’t quite sure which angle I would take when writing about it.

I initially considered making a list titled “10 Reasons Why It’s Wrong To Be Mad About Eric Benet’s “Redbone Girl.” That list would have included perfectly legitimate reasons such as “Light-skinned Black women are Black people too” and “No one gave a shit when he made “Chocolate Legs,” and I also would have touched on how insane we looked giving a light brown-skinned Black man — Yes. Eric Benet is light brown-skinned. The only way he wouldn’t pass a paper bag test is if the paper bags had malaria — shit about writing a song devoted to light-skinned Black women. (“Damn you, Black man, for writing a song about women who happen to the same complexion you happen to be, you self-hating motherf*cker“)

Thing is, while that list would have worked, it would have taken attention away from what I hope is the main takeaway from this, Namely, the fact that becoming upset with people for praising lighter-skinned Black women does nothing but reinforce the opinion that lighter-skinned Black women are, in fact, generally more physically attractive than their darker counterparts. It’s affirmative action for attraction.

I understand that those upset with the Black community’s perpetual praise of mulatto redbone, quadroon, octoroon, and half-cave women feel that the criticism of said praise has historical and sociological merit. This is not incorrect. We have a long and complicated history of giving women “points” just for looking closer to White than other Black women. Even many of the darker-skinned Black women universally praised for their beauty tend to have physical features more synonymous with lighter-skinned women.

Thing is, while complaining about unfairness and eventually demanding that things are made more fair works with other injustices, you cannot demand that people start finding other people more attractive. Physical attraction just doesn’t work like that. You can’t rely on guilt or obligation to make things “equal”. Erections don’t give a damn about social justice.

And, as I said earlier, this process becomes self-defeating because when a person complains about the praise of light-skinned women it implies that the person doing the complaining also feels that light-skinned women are more attractive. It’s as if they’re saying “Them bitches already on top. They don’t need no more praise” — an assertion that makes their gripes disingenuous. It’s not about appreciating what other shades have to offer as much as it’s acquiescing to “defeat” and asking the victors not to stomp on your grave. You want men — and, to be clear, this isn’t all Black men. Not even most — to start praising darker-skinned Black woman more? Instead of getting pissed about the attention redbones receive, start the process by…not caring. Or, even better, start praising darker-skinned women more yourself.

Now, should I have touched on the fact that Eric Benet reached out to Lil Wayne — the founder, president, and social media manager of “f*ckdarkbuttbitches.com” — to drop a verse for this song? Maybe. Am I being generous with the hyperbole by calling this issue about a song seven people outside of the Benet family have actually heard a “controversy?” Definitely. You’ll have to forgive me, though. I’m just glad Eric Benet is still living, and I suggest those sore about redbone chicks getting praise from singers and rappers they wouldn’t be interested in dating anyway start living too.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Maybe Eric Benet Wasn’t Making It Up

Vindication, b*tch. YOUNG MULA BABY!

You remember when we all found out that Halle Berry and Eric Benet were divorcing because he was a “sex addict”?

If you’re like most people, you called bull malarkey, tagged her as crazy since, really, who cheats on Halle Berry then claims to be a sex addict JUST to find a reason to break up unless there are some deeper issues he’s trying to run from. Well, you know, aside from Eric Benet.


Well maybe Barefoot Jones really did have a problem. And maybe it’s in his genes. Not his jeans as that would be majorly en fuego.

(By the way, I’m totally aware that being a sex addict can be a real problem. However, cheating on your spouse because you’re a sex addict seems like a copout. Thank you and good night.)

According to a study done by researchers at SUNY-Binghamton, there might actually be a certain genetic disposition to infidelity and one-night stands, EVEN  if you’re in a committed and loving relationship. Go figure.

“What we found was that individuals with a certain variant of the DRD4 gene were more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, including one-night stands and acts of infidelity,” said Garcia. “The motivation seems to stem from a system of pleasure and reward, which is where the release of dopamine comes in. In cases of uncommitted sex, the risks are high, the rewards substantial and the motivation variable – all elements that ensure a dopamine ‘rush.’”

According to Garcia, these results provide some of the first biological evidence that at first glance, seems to be somewhat of a contradiction: that individuals could be looking for a serious committed long-term relationship, but have a history of one-night stands. At the same time, the data also suggests it is also reasonable that someone could be wildly in love with their partner, commit infidelity, and yet still be deeply attached and care for their partner. It all came back to a DRD4 variation in these individuals. Individual differences in the internal drive for a dopamine ‘rush’ can function independently from the drive for commitment.

Again, go figure. Let me address something here – and to be clear, I’m not saying it’s RIGHT –  but I’ve always thought that it was possible to cheat on somebody, strictly for the physical release of it, and remain emotionally invested in somebody else. The decision to cheat, while driven by an emotionally impulsive thought process, is still a decision that could be avoided. Loving somebody is completely emotional. Now, I understand how folks would contend that if you really loved somebody you wouldn’t be compelled to cheat. Fair enough.

I’m just saying. It’s possible. And no I do not know from personal experience.

And now we have science to back it up. But to be fair, our friends at SUNY-Binghamton make sure to note that just because this gene may exist in your spouse doesn’t mean that they will cheat.

“The study doesn’t let transgressors off the hook,” said Garcia. “These relationships are associative, which means that not everyone with this genotype will have one-night stands or commit infidelity. Indeed, many people without this genotype still have one-night stands and commit infidelity. The study merely suggests that a much higher proportion of those with this genetic type are likely to engage in these behaviors.”

Makes sense.

Now keep in mind, I’m not going to make excuses for anybody that cheats.

Don’t cheat. Baaaaad cheater! *wagging finger*

And I definitely wouldn’t advise ANYBODY who thinks that they MIGHT have some genetic trait that predisposes them to cheating to really come home and say, “I really couldn’t help it, it’s just who I am.” This study doesn’t even state that these people are guaranteed to do it, just that they might have a higher pleasure-reward center than others. I’m not sure this is really breaking any new ground either.

But man, what if Eric Benet had used some science during his divorce proceedings to state that he didn’t cheat on Halle on purpose, he got it from his daddy?

At this point, very little is known about how genetics and neurobiology influence one’s sexuality propensities and tendencies but Garcia is hopeful that this study will add to the growing base of knowledge – in particular, how genes might predispose individuals to pursue sensation seeking across all sorts of domains – from substance use to sexuality. This study also provides further support for the notion that the biological foundations for sexual desire may often operate independently from, although absolutely linked to, deep feelings of romantic attachment.

Thoughts? Any of this surprising? Would this ever be a legit reason to you? Even if your guy or gal had science to prove they had a higher propensity to cheat, or rather engage in infidelitous activity because they “couldn’t help it”? I know the answer is a resounding no, but I had to ask. Does anybody believe this mess?

Bad science. Sit Ubu sit.

Good dog.


***EDIT: If you are thinking of coming out to Tabaq tonight, could you shoot Panama an email at contact@verysmartbrothas.com? Trying to get an idea how many folks to look out for and to make sure that we do catch up with everybody unlike the Park debacle.***

P.S. If you’re in the DMV and looking for something to do this evening from 8-12, head on out to Tabaq (1336 U Street, NW) and hang with Panama Jackson for the viewing party for BET/Centric’s Master of the Mix Viewing Party hosted by Lil SoSo Productions and sponsored by Smirnoff. Smirnoff Open bar from 9-10pm. Peep the flyer below and come check the rhyme. For those on Twitter, @ reply me to let me know you’re there @panamajackson. Holla.

Also for the DMV Hip-Hop and New Jack Swing afficionados, this Saturday, December 11, at Liv Nightclub (2001 11th Street, NW), EPMD will be performing live. Real hip-hop dog. Word up. Get tickets here.  And for all the old school R&B, new jack swing cats, B.B. (MOTHERF*CKING)D. will be performing at Liv on Sunday, December 19th. Doors open at 6pm. You KNOW you don’t want to miss this. Get tickets here. It’s BBD, you know good and damn well you can’t afford to miss this show. Get right, or get left. Shine On Me Productions like a big dog.