Taye Diggs Says Tyson Beckford Helped Him Love the Skin He’s In—Plus: A “Chocolate Me” Giveaway

By NICK CHILES

Despite his heartthrob status, actor Taye Diggs said it wasn’t until he was well into adulthood that he had recovered enough from the insults directed at his dark skin throughout his childhood for him to finally feel good about his looks. And the breakthrough came from a surprising source: a magazine article about model Tyson Beckford.

“When I saw Tyson Beckford hailed as this beautiful man by all people, that caused a shift in my being,” Diggs told MyBrownBaby. “I remember literally waking up and walking the streets the next day and, because I had a bald head as well, feeling a little bit more proud.”

Diggs spoke with MyBrownBaby as part of a roundtable discussion with several bloggers to promote his new children’s book, Chocolate Me! (MacMillan). The book, overflowing with gorgeous playful drawings by award-winning illustrator Shane W. Evans—a college friend of Taye’s—is an affirmation of the beauty of dark chocolate brown skin and the need for all children to love themselves the way God made them. Indeed, is there more ideal a message to celebrate on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King?

The painful incidents experienced by the little boy in the book are based on a similar experience Diggs went through when he was five. The mother in the book sweeps up the little boy and shows him how beautiful he is—“like velvet fudge frosting mixed in a bowl”—just like Taye’s mother did in real life.

These issues have become even more meaningful for Diggs after the birth of his own son, Walker, two-and-a-half years ago. Diggs says he and his wife, Tony Award-winning actress Idina Menzel, talk often about how race will impact their mixed-race child—and here he talks with MyBrownBaby about colorism, raising a mixed race child and how Tyson Beckford made the world alright for dark skin brothers.

MYBROWNBABY: The scenes in the book, especially early on in the book, sound pretty brutal. When did you feel like your self-esteem had recovered from all of those early experiences?

TAYE DIGGS: When I got into high school I started to hear, just from the black community, everybody is more attracted to the light skin girls and the light skin dudes with the light eyes. And from within the race the light skin black people and lighter brown people would make fun of the darker people. So then it was a completely different kind of struggle. And then funnily enough it was when dark skinned men, and this was just from my perspective, there seemed to be a shift where all of a sudden we saw Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, Tyson Beckford. I’m still trying to figure out how this came to be. For me, when I saw Tyson Beckford hailed as this beautiful man by all people, that caused a shift in my being. And I remember literally waking up and walking the streets feeling a little bit more proud. And then after the movie “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” when I had my own personal moments of weakness, I just had to remind myself of all the people that really enjoyed that movie and just kind of lean on that.

TAYE ON COLORISM:
At five-years-old, none of us knew the can of worms we were opening… the little white kids who were making fun of me, they didn’t know. Their whole questioning was coming from the fact that I was different. None of them ever used the N word or negro. They just knew, “ok, his skin is brown, my skin is white, his skin is white, his skin is white, let’s make fun of him.” It wasn’t even in a nasty way at 5. But I obviously didn’t take it well. And then the older you get, once that understanding came, then that was a whole different issue. Then you have to deal with serious self-reflection. My mother was very fair skin and my dad was dark. And back in my mother’s day, she was seeking out the dark men because she didn’t feel black enough. So it’s a continuing issue. We’ve come a long way, but I don’t think we’re fully over it as a society.

TAYE ON HIS PARENTS INSTILLING SELF-ESTEEM: 
My mother and my father made sure that whatever we were going to see, whether it was a movie, play, TV, they always brought attention to black performers; without in any way being discouraging to other races. It was just this, “we want to make sure you understand who you are and regardless of what mainstream society puts out there or may think, this is what is happening. These are positive people that look like you and are doing great things so there’s no excuse for you to not be doing things just as great.”

TAYE ON WHY HE WROTE “CHOCOLATE ME!”:
The idea to write this book came far before I was a father. I knew that I wanted to be a father, but that had no influence on the actual writing of the book. The inspiration came straight from more of an experience of being a son… my mother’s son. That being said, once we got pregnant, my perspective completely transformed and though the words didn’t change, though the message didn’t change, how I felt about what I was writing changed and I just started to get really excited for the day that I could read my book to my son. And every time I continue to read the book to my son—now he can say the words along with me—words can’t explain how it makes me feel.

TAYE ON RAISING A MIXED-RACE CHILD:
Me and my wife, we discuss this and we’re still trying to figure some of this out just with Walker and what he should call himself and how he views himself. When I was growing up if you were half a shade darker than white, the white people would not accept you. You weren’t white. These days, thank God, people are a little bit more accepting and people’s views are broadening and it’s not as accepted to just choose one, how you might have been forced to in the past. I think it depends on the parents’ perspective and how they feel about those issues and how they kind of want to pass that down to their child. As proud as I am of my blackness, I think it’s important to show Walker that he should be just as proud of his Jewish mother and all of the culture that that includes as well.

WANT A COPY OF CHOCOLATE ME?

Of course we encourage you to buy a copy—or two!–of  “Chocolate Me!” for your children’s personal libraries; we at MyBrownBaby are passionate about supporting books for, by and featuring African American characters. But if you want to win a copy of “Chocolate Me!” with Taye’s autograph (!), enter below. Oh yeah—you know MyBrownBaby’s got you covered!  Who loves you, darlings? Good luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

RELATED POSTS:

1. Taye Diggs Says Fatherhood Is A Little Scary—But Easy and Romantic
2. Fatherhood: Tray Chaney Of “The Wire” Celebrates Dedicated Black Dads In His New Video
3.We Need More Black Children’s Books On Borders’s Bookshelves NOW.
4. MyBrownBaby Mom: Holly Robinson Peete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

70 Comments

  1. Please seek therapy Mr. Diggs or you will pass your color issues onto your son. Every time he does an article, it’s about race. I am sick of him. Also, what did he mean when he said this: ” These days, thank God, people are a little bit more accepting and people’s views are broadening and it’s not as accepted to just choose one, how you might have been forced to in the past.” We need to start ignoring men like him altogether and maybe they will disappear.

  2. Some of the links didn’t work…so I hope I found the stuff on my own. This book looks great! Thanks for the giveaway. I want my babies growing up proud of who they are and as a white momma to brown babies, I have a little more challenge with that. AS ALWAYS…LOVE your blog! :0)

  3. Really,
    Really? The man just wrote a children’s book that specifically deals with race and skin color issues. Perhaps that might be why all the recent articles about him are about race and skin color issues. No coincidence. That’s how publicity works. We did an interview with Taye so that more people would know he has a wonderful new children’s book on the market. It’s not like the man was on a street corner, standing on a box, yelling at passersby to let them know how he feels about race. He made himself available, we asked questions, he answered them. Maybe your reaction to him shows that even more people need to be discussing these issues in a public forum because clearly we all have more work to do.

  4. I’m glad that Taye was so willing to share his perspective regarding his challenges about race. I look forward to sharing the book with my daughter.

  5. Poor thing, his mamma and pappa did a poor job at building his self esteem. I now understand why he had to find himself a white woman to make his wife and baby mamma. He was so ashamed of his color that he wanted his child to be pale. You need counseling. I don’t understand why these black successful people cannot stand to make children that look like themselves. He hates his mamma, his pappa and all of his black relatives. Black people no not buy his book, he is a hipocrite. Go bag your black face.

    • Didnt he just sat hes momma was light so as far as the white woman crack there are no light skin women in Africa he has the right to like and marry who he chooses unless that women is married to some one else the pity in your voice is not cute maybe hes happy

      • So that means hes mamma is a least part white so believe it or not he may actually love his wife all mixed people are not light. I just i resent your comment because im african and white no one else except God has the right to tell me who to love and sincr He says love everyone i think he’s not the one with the problem

  6. Well, I think its sad that this Black man didn’t realize his beauty earlier on in his life, then maybe he would have married a black woman and had black children and cherished them so much. I just hate it when Black men seem to have revalations but you still seek porcelain skin. Its contradicts it self in a lot of ways, almost like an oxymoron. How can you love and exceopt your self now, but you still didn’t/won’t date black women.

  7. Let’s not hate on someone that has created what appears to be a quality book for our youth. I am buying the book. I don’t have any hate for him. His wife is accomplished and talented. He didn’t marry some random butt shaking music video broad to impress his buddies. When you haters publish a book that supports our youth then maybe you can criticize.

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      THANK YOU, Nique—I so appreciate your comment, not just as a woman who believes we should choose the mate we love, no matter what others have to say about it, but as an author who writes children’s books specifically with African American children in mind. I’m proud of Taye for using his craft to tap into a serious issue all-too-many of us are STILL dealing with: colorism. That he’s penned a book encouraging children to love the skin they’re in, particularly if it’s chocolate, is something to applaud.

    • Nique, I agree with you to an extend, but I find a distrubing fallacy in one of your statements. When you say “He didn’t marry some random butt shaking music video broad to impress his buddies” it seems you are insinuating that there aren’t eligible black women he could’ve married except a “butt shaking music video broad”, hereby perpetuating a stereotype about black women and, furthermore, you are conveying the illusion that famous black men either marry white women or a “butt shaking music video broad”.
      As a black man who strongly hates the perpetual myths and stereotypes that serve to reduce and further objectify black women thereby stripping away their humanity, I take offense to this!
      I’m sure you meant right, but let’s be careful of how we word things!

  8. Nice! You all censor here. That’s fine…I’ll post it and the fact that this site is no better than Stormfront.

    Girl, bye! Be depressed and a bunch of sad little dark girls…

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      Aurora: Please refer to the top of this website, where it says “DENENE MILLNER’S MyBrownBaby.” If you want to want to waste 20 minutes of your life cursing out a man you don’t know, calling him disgusting names NO ONE should be using against another human being, that’s your business. But you won’t be doing it on MY site. Go on ahead and waste your time on your Facebook page, dear. Ain’t nobody studying you.

  9. His son will probably grow up with the same issues. How can you teach your child to be proud of their heritage if you are not proud of it yourself. White kids picked on you and instead of blaming them, you instead developed a disdain for your own people. Massa sure did a number on black people. We still have a long way to go.

  10. When I was a child my dad’s sister, my aunt; was very fair skinned and I always thought something was wrong with her because her color was different from everyone else. My dad was dark skinned, his other sister dark skinned and his parents were dark as well so I did not understand why she was different. When I became a teenager, I assumed my grandmother had an affair with a white man and produced my aunt but later found out my aunt was her 1st child when she and my granddad got married. So now I was confused again. It was not until my father died that I found out that my great grandmother was half white and half Cherokee Indian. That explained my Aunt’s skin color, I finally met cousins of my mine who are white on my father’s side. My mom side of the family is kinda the same way. So it explains the varying skin tones of myself and my siblings. We range from in skin color from light brown to very deep dark “special” chocolate brown. It is interesting how powerful genetics are. When I had my own children whose father is a black man, they are all light brown. When I had my first child I thought someone had switched my dark like me baby with some light child. They nurses kept telling over and over that she was my baby. I expected to have a dark skinned child not one that looked white. I expected my other two to be the same but they came out light too. People used to say that I slept with a white man to produce my children but that is not true. I guess I just was not meant to have any dark skinned children and wanted them my color.

  11. To finish my story from before. It is hard enough trying grow up to accept yourself just to be successful in the world; so to make color an issue is psychologically self destructive to yourself and especially to our children. Now I am not saying my family was perfect with no issues related to color that were negative. My grandmother on my mom’s side was part white, part Cuban and part black and she hated her Hispanic heritage and barely tolerated her black heritage. she refused to have her children speak Spanish and did not recognize that part of her heritage at all, but loved her white heritage and bragged about how she could pass for white. She treated her dark children different from the lighter ones, (one being my mom) and she really didn’t like her dark skinned grand children always referring to us as monkeys. When she saw my children she spread rumors that I was a whore who slept with a white man because I was too dark to have light skinned children. We did not like each other. In reality we just need to stop all the self-hate BS and embrace the life that was given to us and accept and love the diversity that we all as members of the human family have. It starts with the person in the mirror 1st.

  12. I just think it is another example at how insecure black men are. (As most men do place the blame on women to cover for their own shortcomings) But in this case, black men have always tried to make it seem as though it was ‘black women’ who had the problem . But the more of these interviews I read with Taye, Tyson Beckford, Tyrese, etc…. i see they it is actually their own low self esteem and even hatred of their dark skin that has led them to date white and latin women to make themselves feel better and to not pass on their full blackness to thier children.

    Im not mad, it just actually makes me feel better to be able to say no brother…its not me…its YOU!…but do your thang…Find love where you can is what I say

  13. It’s great that you make it seem like you ran Aurora off. Nice touch deleting her response.

    • Yes I saw that too and thought it was the highest form of censorship considering that quite a few others have said the same thing. This is one reason why I don’t visit sites such as this.

      With that being said, we all have to take the good with the bad and at the end of the day, we go on about our business. There are so many important issues in this world and skin color should be the least of them, but sadly for a lot of individuals, it isn’t.

      That being said, I am a dark-skinned sister and I’ve always embraced my Blackness. I was never teased or humiliated by it because I wear my blackness with pride. If you instill it in your children, they won’t have any reason to be ashamed of it. I am so disgusted with this light-skinned/dark-skinned topic. It is 2012 people. When are some of you going to let it go. The thought of me marrying a man because of the color of his skin or the texture of his hair is ridiculous and then factor in that my child will come out looking better for it. RIDAMNDICULOUS. I married for love and respect, not color. I have family members that are Alabaster to Ebony and we love each other for who we are, not the color of our skin.

      In my opinion, I think there are a lot more issues with Taye that he is letting on and I will let it go at that.

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      Aurora’s original comment was deleted because she called someone the “p” word. I did send her a personal message explaining why. She came back and left another comment, nastier than the first, making it clear that she was more interested in name-calling and insulting than saying anything about the topic at hand. That is not the kind of blog that I run. By any stretch. So her IP addy was added to the “spam” list, which automatically deletes her messages. That’s the way WordPress works. That’s the way I work on this site—a site meant for mothers/parents and their children. This is not Bossip. It’s not Necole Bitchie. It’s not MediaTakeout. If you are reading through the comments, clearly you see that I’m not censoring anyone’s negative opinions on Taye Diggs. What I am doing, though, is keeping disgusting words and personal insults directed at ME off MY site. You don’t like that? Stop wasting time here and go read Bossip.

      • Wow, you are certainly assuming a lot. For the record, I don’t read nor have I ever visited the websites you just posted. Funny, how you are just looking at one particular comment that I made and not anything else that I commented on. I read all of the comments posted here and I read her comments yesterday before you deleted them. Please stop saying they were nasty, because they weren’t. There are times when people don’t like to read what others are saying, but that’s the way of the world.

        I didn’t come here to banter back and forth with you and yes I am wasting my time here. Be blessed and have a good day.

      • WOW. “Stop wasting time and go read Bossip.” Damn girl, what’s got your panties in a bunch? Taye Diggs is acting just like a “p-word” with this mess. He needs to blame his lame parents for not validating him when he was a child. It’s sad that in 2012, we’re still dealing with this issue.

        Sadly, I think Aurora was run off because you know deep down, she was absolutely right in what she said.

        • i disagree you may be angry eith taye but to curse him out is inappropriate you may have a valid point then you need to explain it not using profanity and further degradation which is what white people do to black people everyday address the real problem not thr symptom of it thanks

  14. I make it a point to buy books for all of the children in my life and get tired of the options available as it seems no one is writing…wait…no one is PUBLISHING books for Black children specifically.

    That said, I applaud this book and the sentiment behind it and can’t wait to put my hands on a copy so I may read it for myself in order to be able to give an honest opinion of the book instead of projecting issues and assuming anything. If it’s good…I will add it to my list of books to give children as gifts.

  15. why is everyone blaming HIM when yawl know people who was picking at him, maybe you did it yourself. i was picked at for my color and wont say which it b/c guess what? its shouldnt matter i’ll leave it to yurs imagination. Besides, if you hating on him for having a white/jewish white you are part of the problem not the solution. B/C guess what if you in America many ppl got white blood and those that don’t i rarely hea talking like they trying to learn about the IGBO or tryn go back to Nairaland. so stop hating on a brotha. Many folks with they gold digging , wouldnt have given Taye the time of day cuz he was in plays and doing shakespeare maybe not everyone but i know PLENTY of folks who would have made fun of him b/c he was not a BALLER or a MC. So i’m sick of hearing folks flapping they gums but being part of the problem. Its white folks issue not mine.

  16. so GO TAYE, keep writing them books and silence the HATERZZZZZ!

  17. AND (last thing) if his family is multicolored meaning he has both in his family (he said his mom was light) So WHAT right to you have to tell him WHO he needs to date. GUESS what? There are mixed ppl who are dark-skinned. I think ppl need to MIND their OWN business are you gonna pick up his clothes and wash his drawers, OKAY then, let people live there life cuz the truth is you might SEE whatever you want to see but that dont mean its truth. Because YOU don’t KNOW him. I get real tired of people telling others how they need to be living their life. ESPECIALLY when you aint paying their bills. Great book.

  18. Truely how can you say you have come to except your color when you married outside of your race.

  19. My childrens GodMother gave them this book for Christmas and it is a favorite. We (all colors) should teach our children that complexion is what make us unique and most beautiful. Black is beautiful! It really is.

  20. Black children shouldnt be picking white dolls over their own. Black women teach your children BETTER so we wont have anymore Taye Diggs growing up.

  21. As a dark skinned black man coming of age in the 70′s & 80′s I can somewhat relate to feelings insecure about my black skin. This didn’t last long for me and everyone is different. I grew out of that quick and haven’t turned back since. I love my black woman and there are brothers like me that are 100% dedicated to the females of our community. I question brothers that associate with black people when it’s time to make money. I won’t name names but Taye comes from a long list of black men that look at white woman as liberating. It’s as if they’re expressing their freedom to marry the once forbidden fruit. Once I learned true black history and the fact that the black woman is the Mother of Civilization I could never choose another. Her pain and substance is in perfect alignment with my own. My kids will share in that legacy and we will rise as a people. When we rise as a nation brothers like Taye will feel the shame and be looked at as outsiders.

  22. I think the book is a great idea. Let’s focus on what is still going on today. In middle America (not East and West Coast), I think there is still an issue with children making other children feel ashamed of their complexion. We still have ignorant people walking around claiming that one color is better than another when it comes to the various shades of being black. I think having a book for kids to feel that it is okay to be comfortable in your skin and realize that no matter what shade you are then you are still beautiful is a great start to addressing some of the issues in the black community.

  23. Okay seriously, you’re hating on the man because he married outside his race. I’m pretty sure there is only 1 race, and that’s the HUMAN race!

    Once upon a time it was illegal for interracial marriages to occur. Black people weren’t allowed to ride at the front of the bus. There were ‘white only’ establishments that were LEGAL and a million of other ways to separate. It’s like some people are stuck in the days of segregation and have yet to move on. Marrying people you love regardless of skin color and religion is not the problem, the problem isn’t with those people. It’s with people who think they have the right to judge and judge so harshly they insult not only a man but he’s entire a family.

  24. I read this book at the book store and considered it for my 3 year old granddaughter. The pictures were quite colorful, lovely, and child pleasing; and the story had a wise lesson/moral, overall. However, I couldn’t bring myself to buy it for my little one. She is 3 and I found the first part of the story really negative. I don’t think she has ever seen herself as ugly at all; or different (in a bad way). She likes her nose, her cinnamon skin, her full heart-shaped lips AND her long frizzy head full of hair. She has been successful at beauty pagenats where many of the girls don’t look at all like her; but she thinks she’s beautiful and sassy. Thus, I wasn’t sure I wanted to put a negative idea in her head. Our family is chock full of various racial mixtures and cultures, and she hasn’t had this happen to her in our suburban neighborhood.

    However, I am not blind, nor naive: I am a Psychologist and I know these kind of incidents happen; but don’t think small children have these kind of negative things said very often. I wanted to support another Black writer, but just concerned that my 3 year old might be exposed ideas that have never crossed her mind about herself. In fact my bi-racial (half Asian) nephew has very full lips (got them from my brother); and people NEVER stop telling him how gorgeous he is with those full lips! Maybe I am over-thinking it. I did buy this type of book for my very “chocolate” daughter when she was young (because she was always being asked where her hair long wavy hair came from); but not so sure this is the book for our kids now. Or maybe 3 is just too young… I might consider it later when her self-identity is very strong and she can take such harsh information as having “teeth that are too white”, etc. i guess people should just consider for themselves, and be objective about their child’s needs.

  25. I am appalled and disturbed by many of the comments on here. I haven’t heard such antiquated thinking since watching a video clip of a KKK rally.
    #1) In case you were not aware, “race” is social, not biological…as in…it does not exist. To say that Taye Diggs is self-hating because of his choice of spouse, is to use the same logic as ‘white’ people when they say that they wouldn’t marry a Black person because they are ghetto. It’s a mass overgeneralization! I would never take anything away from Idina (who by the way, is an extremely talented performer!) just because of the color of her skin. Taye moved passed his own color issues, yet you want him to cling to the same thinking that fostered his color issues in the first place. Hello!!
    #2)- You CANNOT and WILL NOT destroy the concept of race/racism/prejudice by using the exact same mentality. I am not less than because of my ancestry, and neither is his wife, because she is Jewish. None of us are less than because we are dark, or light, or Black, or bi-racial or what have you. I think many of you would dishonor your ancestors, many of whom may have been white, Indian, or bi-racial, by speaking that way about non-Black people.
    #3) Our children need more books like these. All children should have access to positive, life-affirming books with characters that look like themselves, whether they are black as the beautiful night, or as white as freshly fallen snow.
    #4) Please, ELEVATE your thinking above the superficial. Are most of you not aware that a)all humanity started in Africa and that b)all humans are more similar than dissimilar and that c)Africans have the GREATEST genetic variability, so Taye Diggs and his wife may be closer genetically than Taye Diggs to another African American person from the same city!!

    Race is NOT Biological!!! If you didn’t know that by now, please….put the computer down, and run (don’t walk) to your nearest library. Anytime you espouse the same doctrine as known hate groups, you should probably take your foot out of your mouth and sit down somewhere.

    Love,

    A self-actualized African American woman, fully versed in history AND her culture.

    • Funny…when one of his shows got cancelled he jokingly blamed it on BLACK WOMEN…but let’s keep up with the race does not matter bs.

  26. Dark skinned brothers have been hot for a very long time. I’m thoroughly confused. Where has he been?

  27. Karen Rogers, I agree with you.

Leave a Reply