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BY Francis Akhalbey, 9:00am June 14, 2024,

Tyla says she never denied her Blackness after identifying as ‘coloured’ sparked controversy

Tyla recently set the record straight about her identity -- Photos: Tyla/Instagram

South Africa’s global-rising singer Tyla took to social media on Thursday to set the record straight about her identity following an interview on iHeartRadio radio show The Breakfast Club.

The “controversy” surrounding the Water singer’s identity stemmed from a December 2023 video that she posted, Entertainment Weekly reported. The 22-year-old in the video described herself as “Coloured South African.” But Tyla, who was wearing the traditional Zulu Bantu knots hairstyle, also explained it meant that she “comes from a lot of different cultures.” 

The Breakfast Club’s co-host Charlamagne Tha God revisited that topic when the Grammy winner appeared on the show, asking her to explain why she describes herself as a “Coloured” person. Tyla later went silent before her rep asked for that question to be skipped. 

Tyla ultimately shared a post on X [formerly Twitter] to address the said controversy. “Never denied my Blackness, idk where that came from,” she started. “I’m mixed with Black/Zulu, Irish, Mauritian/Indian, and Coloured. In Southa [South Africa] I would be classified as a Coloured woman and other places I would be classified as a Black woman. Race is classified differently in different parts of the world.”

The Jump singer also said she does not expect to be identified as “Coloured” outside of her home country “by anyone not comfortable doing so” as she understands the “weight of that word outside of SA [South Africa].”

She added: “But to close this conversation, I’m both Coloured in South Africa and a Black women [sic].” She also concluded her statement with the Zulu word, “Asambeee”, which means “Let’s go.”

Tyla’s identity particularly came under scrutiny after she penetrated the American market. Per BBC, using the word “Coloured” to describe a person is regarded as a slur by Americans – though that is not the case in her native South Africa. And the musician using that word to describe herself made a section of Americans suggest she’s denying her Blackness.

“When people are like, ‘You’re denying your Blackness,’ it’s not that at all. I never said I am not Black,” the 22-year-old said in an April interview with Cosmopolitan. “It’s just that I grew up as a South African knowing myself as Coloured. And now that I’m exposed to more things, it has made me other things too. I’m also mixed-race. I’m also Black. I know people like finding a definition for things, but it’s ‘and,’ not ‘or.'”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 14, 2024

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