Part of my thesis title explained (kinda); “between two worlds, I do belong”.
I wrote a song, ‘Four Women’, which went into these feelings a little. The women in the song are black, but their skin tones range from light to dark and their ideas of beauty and their own importance are deeply influenced by that. All the song did was to tell what entered the minds of the most black women in America when they thought about themselves” their complexions, their hair – straight, kinky, natural, which? – and what other women thought of them. Black women didn’t know what the hell they wanted because they were defined by things they didn’t control, and until they had the confidence to define themselves they’d be stuck in the same mess forever – that was the point the song made. When ‘Four Women’ was released in 1966 some black radio stations banned DJs from playing it because it they said it ‘insulted’ black women. It didn’t, and banning it was a stupid thing to do, but I wasn’t surprised. The song told a truth that many people in the USA – especially black men – simply weren’t ready to acknowledge at that time.
Nina Simone on composing ‘Four Women’ and racial identity in the US, from her autobiography I Put a Spell On You (1991), p. 117.