Open Thread: Chester French’s “Black Girls” [NSFW]

Presented without comment (for the second). If you haven’t seen/heard it, here’s the NSFW video, lyrics after the jump.

This ain’t no fetish, ain’t objectifying no one
I reject your deconstruction of my taste
But ignoramus always look in my direction
They’re so frustrated I don’t keep it in the race
Like they’ve never seen this before
Like it’s 1954
But the whole world’s turning brown and who cares

[Hook]
I’ve got a thing for black girls
La, la la la la, la la, la la la la la
Yeah, my mom says
I’ve got a thing for black girls
La, la la la la, la la, la la la la la
You know I got some love for black girls
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Well I have tried to taste the rainbow in my life
I’ve sampled many different flavors I enjoy
It’s not to say I wouldn’t settle down with Sally
Dilly dally with her heart like it’s my toy
I’ve been to England a few times
And it’s common over there
Plus the whole world’s turning brown and who cares

[Hook x2]

(I’m ? so what)
(And I need to know, where’s all the love for black girls)
(No the girl don’t need no tan)
(I keep on ballin’ hard for black girls)

Okay, I lied, micro-commentary.

Helena Andrews said she doesn’t know what to think. The video creeped Britni out. The first tipster said they were offended; the second tipster was thrilled. I’m not expressing an opinion intentionally, partially because I’m gonna place a bet with Carmen on how this will turn out in the comments section (hint for long time readers: it’s gonna be the preference vs. fetish convo, round 682!).

So, have at it.

(Thanks to Jackie, Elon, and Tiffany for the tip!)

  • http://twitter.com/JustMsMia Maria I Holt

    Good call Digital Coyote! Now THAT was a video that I’m sure would stir some debate.  This isn’t a new topic in Pop/Rock. I am old enough to remember the song “Brother Louie” by The Stories.  It was obviously about the Taboo love between a Black woman and a White man.  What I REALLY want to see is someone sing about the love of a black woman by an “other” man in a matter of fact way. What’s wrong with showing appreciation for the physical attributes of the object of your desire in a non-fetish way? I think the song and original video  “Potbelly” by the fabulous Freshlyground, a South African group, is a good example of not making a big deal out of the color difference.  I didn’t mind the Chester French song or video.   Sure it would be nice if the video showed the man singing about the black woman, but the pen-ultimate of many a man’s desire–blond haired white women–singing about it is okay too. I get their point–kill two taboo stereotypes with one song/video. Poor timing? Maybe, but when will it ever be “Just right” and NO ONE have anything negative to say about it?

  • Anonymous

    Seriously, you must be very young b/c Jon B. was on the scene doing that before Robin Thicke…

  • Weedie

    Not really, especially white male/black female. I go to to (an admittedly rather small) top fifty university, and I can count the number of wm/bf relationships I’ve seen here- be it in the present or past- on one hand. So personally, I kinda dig him coming “out” about something that in many circles could really lead to some issues. 

  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/3codUm8BxvqjexiiRD_vT6du6nFanFt0#6779e roundelay78

    Yep—typical fantasy fetish thing—interesting to see two women getting their swerve on, but to me it still came off as the same old racial fetish thing—like if it’s about sisters,why is a blonde-hair-flipping white woman dominating/taking up most of the space?  It’s like the sister is just window dressing. How come the lead singer, whom I presume is white due to his singing voice,didn’t appear in the video? Now that would have been cool, to see a sister and a white guy getting it on, or a sister and a Latino dude kicking it like that—-this just came off as another glorify the white girl while the sister is just background window dressing and a male fantasy for other males to jerk off too.

    • Mousey

      I thought the singer (white “lady”) was a dude? With the david bowie thing going on?

  • Sue

    I’m an old white dyke. Who loves me some women-loving-women. (I also like this whole blog a lot.) But I’ve never heard of Chester French (like I said, I’m old). I sort of guessed it might be a male group, from the name, and I sure didn’t care about hearing a man sing those (kind of lame) lyrics. Plus I knew I wouldn’t be into the music itself (old, I said, WAY old).  What to do? Watch it with the sound off! I thought it was lovely—and I still don’t know or care who the band is or what they sound like.

  • Anonymous

    as opposed to cementing the gender barrier by putting a man’s voice in a woman’s mouth? Using a white woman as proxy?

    Meh, video bored me, song is youthful and silly. I think it’s sadder that we as Black women are so starved for external validation through media that people have expressed they’ll “take it anyway [they] can.” THAT is heartbreaking.

    And “it” is not common, everywhere. Lots of urban folks on this site, don’t let your existence lull you into a sense that we’re universally desirable in non-fetish ways. We should be, but I’m not seeing it.

  • Anonymous

    That buckets all things together in ways that aren’t helpful.  For example, some black men may profess an exclusive desire for black women, as both a romantic and political statement against the way that black women have been treated historically.  That isn’t quite the same as stereotype based preferences.  

    Also, attraction more generally is influenced (but not governed by) our environment.  You can have a preference that cloaks a fetish, or you can have a preference that appears to be race based, but actually isn’t if it’s applied across different groups. It’s much more complicated than a pat “this is this and this is that” analysis because we are dealing with people.  And if humans can’t define specifically what “race” is, what makes you think adding the politics of attraction to this quagmire will make things easier to understand?

    • http://www.elenamary.com/ Elenamary

       No, I don’t understand.  If “humans can’t define specifically what ‘race’ is” why are we then able to define it when it comes to attraction?  Expressing an exclusive desire for any race as a “political statement”, is just that racist.  If  a neo-nazi declared white-women as the epitome of beauty “as both a romantic and political statement” wouldn’t that be fucked up? 

      Yes, we are more attracted to some people than others.  As evidenced in the fact that  we all deal with our fair share of broken hearts.  But exclusively being attracted to a certain ‘race’ is racist.  We weren’t designed to inherently find a social construct (race) attractive or non-attractive.

      • Anonymous

        Racism is more complicated than that. You can fetishize people within your own race without ever entering into convos about fetishes because that is reserved for IR relationships. You can date intraracially but inter-ethnically. And race is a category that shifts.

        What is important is to understand that racism isn’t just simple interactions between people. It’s also about power structures that people play into or frame our points of reference. Power structures are why black-black love or Asian-Asian love is such a big deal, it grabs headlines. Power structures turn something as simple as stating a preference for people who look like you into a radical act – either one of racism or one of resistance against a racist frame that devalues people who look like you. And not understanding that power is at the root of these problems, instead, trying to oversimplify what is or is not, allows racism to persist. Context matters. Power structures matter.

  • Alexis

    What. The. Actual. Fuck?
    I, personally, didn’t even take this as a compliment. Sure black women are receiving a lot of hate, but we don’t really need this. It’s offensive. 

  • Alexis

    What. The. Actual. Fuck?
    I, personally, didn’t even take this as a compliment. Sure black women are receiving a lot of hate, but we don’t really need this. It’s offensive. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FIN6IQP2R5QWALHVUDALMTLXAM MST2010

      Well, confound the haters and LOVE YOURSELF!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FIN6IQP2R5QWALHVUDALMTLXAM MST2010

      Well, confound the haters and LOVE YOURSELF!

  • Anonymous

    I feel creeped out by the video, in a way that I’m not usually creeped out by most white guys who say they’re “in to” black girls.   It still fetishizes and showcases a conventionally attractive white blonde woman in addition to, if not more than, that black actress.  I’m trying now to think of a single music video I’ve seen by a white male artist that even featured black females as sexy or love interests, and I can’t.  Even a song about being into black girls still needs to say “don’t worry, blonde girls, we will never stop loving you” to the point that it seems like the white woman is still in the forefront of attention, with the black woman feeling more like a prop to contrast the whiteness of the background and the white actress.

    Also, I seem to be in the minority here, but I found the song really clunky and annoying, and way too generic as far as the music and the “na na na”s go.  This sounds like every indie pop group I’ve ever suffered through listening to, they just happen to acknowledge that women come in colors aside from white.  And my reaction is “so what.”  If he was really into “black girls” as something other than a fetish or a hipster status symbol, he wouldn’t have to screech about it.

    • Weedie

      Don’t know if it counts, but Robin Thicke’s “Lost Without You” video features his lovely biracial wife, Paula Patton :)

    • Mickey

      What about “Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones?

      • Anonymous

        What about it?

        • Mickey

          That is a song that openly praises black women. Is it considered a song that black women would appreciate or not?

          • Anonymous

            Not really…Check the lyrics again.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, Jon B used to always used black women, and dark-skinned ones at that, in his videos.  

      I think a better question would be if it’s every done in music that isn’t aimed at a black audience.

  • Anonymous

    I feel creeped out by the video, in a way that I’m not usually creeped out by most white guys who say they’re “in to” black girls.   It still fetishizes and showcases a conventionally attractive white blonde woman in addition to, if not more than, that black actress.  I’m trying now to think of a single music video I’ve seen by a white male artist that even featured black females as sexy or love interests, and I can’t.  Even a song about being into black girls still needs to say “don’t worry, blonde girls, we will never stop loving you” to the point that it seems like the white woman is still in the forefront of attention, with the black woman feeling more like a prop to contrast the whiteness of the background and the white actress.

    Also, I seem to be in the minority here, but I found the song really clunky and annoying, and way too generic as far as the music and the “na na na”s go.  This sounds like every indie pop group I’ve ever suffered through listening to, they just happen to acknowledge that women come in colors aside from white.  And my reaction is “so what.”  If he was really into “black girls” as something other than a fetish or a hipster status symbol, he wouldn’t have to screech about it.

  • rin

    Fetishizing, despite the vocalist’s claims to the contrary. Any time you’re interested  in a group of people based entirely on race -and they have nothing else in common- you are fetishizing. It suggests you’re silly enough to believe black women are monolithic. So the lyrics are so-so. I can see why some want to see good intentions or something positive here, but any attention is not necessarily good attention, and black women have been sexualized and fetishized historically, so don’t think it’s progress either. It’s classic racism to sexualize the other, an old tactic that’s been perpetrated on many populations.

    And the video really makes that clear. The white woman’s conquering the black woman, and they stress the colors deliberately. They didn’t need to have her naked. They could have easily had a coy black woman clothed. I guess that’s not “edgy” enough. In this case, they tried to be edgy by exploiting a population that’s already been exploited backwards and forwards, so no points or respect from me. If they really wanted at least some props and a more debatable video, in my opinion, they wouldn’t have sexualized her. They would have exulted her by making the video about her, showing different glimpses of her, but that would have been too “romantic” or “soft” for their brand. It really is about the money. Btw, I agree it’s rehashing the lesbian fantasy yet again.

  • rin

    Fetishizing, despite the vocalist’s claims to the contrary. Any time you’re interested  in a group of people based entirely on race -and they have nothing else in common- you are fetishizing. It suggests you’re silly enough to believe black women are monolithic. So the lyrics are so-so. I can see why some want to see good intentions or something positive here, but any attention is not necessarily good attention, and black women have been sexualized and fetishized historically, so don’t think it’s progress either. It’s classic racism to sexualize the other, an old tactic that’s been perpetrated on many populations.

    And the video really makes that clear. The white woman’s conquering the black woman, and they stress the colors deliberately. They didn’t need to have her naked. They could have easily had a coy black woman clothed. I guess that’s not “edgy” enough. In this case, they tried to be edgy by exploiting a population that’s already been exploited backwards and forwards, so no points or respect from me. If they really wanted at least some props and a more debatable video, in my opinion, they wouldn’t have sexualized her. They would have exulted her by making the video about her, showing different glimpses of her, but that would have been too “romantic” or “soft” for their brand. It really is about the money. Btw, I agree it’s rehashing the lesbian fantasy yet again.

  • http://twitter.com/Ellington3 Rhonda Yearwood

    Who is Chester French?!? : )
    As for the song, its meh, neither bad nor good.
    As for the video, not a fan of the soft core pornishess of it to be honest.
    Would have been more impressed if they actually used a white guy singing this to the black woman, rather than fetishizing a lesbian interracial romance.

  • http://twitter.com/Ellington3 Rhonda Yearwood

    Who is Chester French?!? : )
    As for the song, its meh, neither bad nor good.
    As for the video, not a fan of the soft core pornishess of it to be honest.
    Would have been more impressed if they actually used a white guy singing this to the black woman, rather than fetishizing a lesbian interracial romance.

  • Anonymous

    Honestly, I don’t mind the lyrics–they’re a bit silly, in a hipster kind of way. The vid, however, undercuts the message because you mostly see the white girl working her blondish-looking hair. The Black girl, in contrast, seems like an accent on all of the whiteness on the screen. 

  • Keisha

    I personally love the song and liked Chester French since 2009 when I saw them as an opening act for Pharrell and Common.  I’m indifferent towards the video.  Reading some of the comments about the video (on other blogs and posts) and the song, I do think that some are reaching with the idea that by stating that because they are saying “they have a thing for black girls”, they are automatically fulfilling the idea of the black women as a fetish to all other races trope.  I do, however, think that this is due to the bombardment of ideas of how no one wants black women, not even black men.  And of course, the new recent crusade of black men (both celebrity and non) needing to “save” black women by basically denigrating every single thing about us.  We get so wrapped up in constantly trying to defend ourselves that when a white guy comes along and says that he has a “thing” for us, we automatically downplay it as a fetish and not a real preference.  Yeah, he could have gone a different route with the video but honestly who cares.  Music videos are vastly becoming antiquated so this video didn’t really phase me and why would it.  Sure it plays to the lesbian fantasy of males but at least it’s not some greasy half naked girl making her butt cheeks clap in front of the camera with champagne and money being thrown at her.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Laina-Dawes/100000171351317 Laina Dawes

    I’m going to repeat what I wrote to friends yesterday:

    It seems like a ‘chocolate fantasy’ gone wrong. I know there is going to be backlash or at least some commentary about this video and white people are going to say “but there’s a black girl in the video – how is this racist?”Black women are ripe for objectification and for being the brunt of a joke. I am so tired of this. Also, apparently these guys are signed under Pharrell Williams Star Track label? Not that he has a track record of promoting black womanhood, but I was thinking o of how this video is the fantasy for white men – the lesbianism or at least the perceived sexual acts between women, and then how the white women is in control of the black women in relation to the perceived / suggested sexual act. It’s control and power, hearkening back to some awful sexualized / racialized stereotypes about black women’s sexuality and ownership of their bodies. A fetish, but not a romanticized body / relationship. I was actually thinking of contacting you about this, this morning so I’m glad to see a thread on this subject. Can we also come with some constructive ideas about how to muzzle clueless white (and in this case, black) people to stop using black women’s bodies as a tool to promote ironic racism?

  • http://www.facebook.com/staceyygoodlett Stacey Yvonne Goodlett

    I love it, but only because I love anything that gives love to black girls.  Is it objectifying?  Sure, but in such a positive way that who cares?  Now this is situational, because if it were a white woman doing a song about black men or ESPECIALLY a black man doing a song about a white girl I’d hate it.  But whatevs, it’s about showing some love to my sisters.  I’ll take it anyway I can.

  • Tobaccos Daughter

    I would believe the song more if one of the MEN in the group actually appeared in the video.  Instead, they do the whole lesbian-ish male fantasy thing without having to own up to their professed preferences.

    • http://www.facebook.com/galiotica Nejasna ちゃん

      Objectifying her as a woman, fetishising her race by contrasting her against a white girl, having her roleplay a lesbian, all for the sake of selling a product. Racism, homophobia and misogyny packed into one neat parcel and sold under the guise of giving a compliment.  In other words – business as usual :/ 

    • http://www.facebook.com/optometristatl Tasha Johnson

      Exactly.

      And why is it that when interracial homosexuality is portrayed in the media, it’s always the Black partner in service to the white one? 

      I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that.

      And if the song is about Black girls, then why is a white girl in the video AT ALL?

      • Anonymous

        lol almost like I fell in love with a black girl by the catarcs although hetero..

        I do think the’ in service to’ thing happens partially because of who is singing it.
        when lil wayne or any rapper for that mater talks about red bones or kanye about white girls (“i’ll do anything for a blonde dyke”).. there’s still that feeling that the women they’re speaking of with that aesthetic are objects or pets

        and if you’re a POC especially black singing about being primarily attracted to anything else, that’s dangerous.  beware of people hurdling accusations at you for being  a self hating negro. so you hardly see it.

        as for why a white girl is present. idk lol i don’t know.

      • Anonymous

        lol almost like I fell in love with a black girl by the catarcs although hetero..

        I do think the’ in service to’ thing happens partially because of who is singing it.
        when lil wayne or any rapper for that mater talks about red bones or kanye about white girls (“i’ll do anything for a blonde dyke”).. there’s still that feeling that the women they’re speaking of with that aesthetic are objects or pets

        and if you’re a POC especially black singing about being primarily attracted to anything else, that’s dangerous.  beware of people hurdling accusations at you for being  a self hating negro. so you hardly see it.

        as for why a white girl is present. idk lol i don’t know.

  • http://twitter.com/MalikPanama Malik

    The video is a conceptually failure, lazy, and typical. The actual song is ehhhh. My English friends tell me it is not in fact common over there. So yeah. I mean they gave it the ol’ college try. Given that there hasn’t been a Black women appreciation song since what Black Star’s Brown Skin Lady (I’m genuinely curious and not being sarcastic) they’ll get a lot a love despite a bad video and a mediocre song because no one openly expressions love and adoration for Black women unless they specifically say a “redbone” woman.

    • LondonTown

      Hey Malik, I’m from England (London to be precise). It is actually pretty common to see WM /BW couples over there.. it’s not a big deal. So I get where the artist is coming from with that line in the lyrics.. In comparison to NYC (where I currently live) it’s very common…

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, I was about to agree it’s a pretty common thing. In their television programming, too, like on Misfits and Being Human.