Beyonce Sports Blackface To Honor Fela Kuti

Just when we thought she couldn't get any lighter, the singer takes a turn in the opposite direction.

By Jorge Rivas Feb 21, 2011

Not too long ago we took issue with Beyoncé being airbrushed to a much lighter skintone. Today we’re writing about the complete opposite scenario: the singer being photographed in blackface.

One of France’s premiere fashion magazines, L’Officiel Paris, thought they would honor Nigerian musician and human rights activist Fela Kuti by dressing Beyoncé up as, what they would like to call, an "African Queen." 

The editorial shoot includes images of the international pop sensation in blackface, clad in leopard prints, feathers, head-dresses and necklaces with bones hanging off of them. A "return to Beyoncé’s African roots," according to L’Officiel.

Clutch Magazine posted a statement from the L’Officiel Paris:

The fashion magazine is about to celebrate its 90th birthday. To celebrate this anniversary, the festivities start with the March issue, with Beyoncé on the cover. The star agreed to pose for an incredible fashion shoot, with the theme of African Queen, paying a tribute to the legendary Fela Kuti (Nigerian political singer who died in 1997). Far from the glamorous Sasha Fierce, the beauty posed for the magazine in amazing fashion designer clothes, but also in a dress created by her mother. A return to her African roots, as you can see on the picture, on which her face was voluntarily darkened. All the pictures will be available in the collector edition, on sale at the end of this month.

Nigerian-British blogger Lulu at says that for her, a Nigerian and someone who was in the country when Fela was still alive, "this is not a tribute to him."

If this were a Martin Luther King tribute would she have painted her face black? In Nigeria we have all shades of black so I’m not really sure how this is a tribute to Fela.

And I don’t even see how the clothes factor into the tribute. The only thing close to anything I’ve seen my mom wear or that I wore as a kid is the headress and even then it’s not tied properly.

Jay-Z, Beyoncé’s husband, is one of the producers of "Fela!," a musical celebrating the life of the Nigerian star, so you can’t say that she’s completely oblivious to his legacy. And she must know that black face carries a deeply rooted racist history in the United States that extends back to minstrel shows where white actors would paint their faces black to mock the physical appearance African-Americans.

Let us know what you think.