Their Struggles With Understanding Their Race & Identities
Quincy Jones has two daughters with his late ex-wife/actress-model, Peggy Lipton. Both daughters- the hilarious Black AF star, Rashida Jones; and Kidada Jones- are biracial and both of them had major issues with their racial identity growing up. They revealed this in detail in a Glamour Magazine interview several years ago and we think this is still a very relevant topic today.
Rashida was known as the one who “passed for White” while they were growing up, according to her sister, Kidada. Kidada tried everything in her power to “be Black” because she simply didn’t fit in with her mother, her sister, nor her White friends. They gave very detailed and interesting accounts of their racial identity issues and their mother and Quincy also chimed in.
Here are some excerpts from their interview:
Their Struggles With Understanding Their Race & Identities
RASHIDA: I wouldn’t trade my family for anything. My mother shocked her Jewish parents by marrying out of her religion and race. And my father: growing up poor and black, buckling the odds and becoming so successful, having the attitude of “I love this woman! We’re going to have babies and to hell with anyone who doesn’t like it!”
KIDADA: …When I was born in 1974, there were almost no other biracial families–or black families–in our neighborhood. I was brown-skinned with short, curly hair. Mommy would take me out in my stroller and people would say, “What a beautiful baby…whose is it?” Rashida came along in 1976. She had straight hair and lighter skin. My eyes were brown; hers were green. In preschool, our mother enrolled us in the Buckley School, an exclusive private school. It was almost all white.
RASHIDA: In reaction to all that differentess, Kidada tried hard to define herself as a unique person by becoming a real tomboy.
(L-R) Kidada Jones; Quincy Jones; Rashida Jones
KIDADA: While Rashida wore girly dresses, I loved my Mr. T dolls and my Jaws T-shirt. But seeing the straight hair like the other girls had, like my sister had…I felt: “It’s not fair! I want that hair!” […] One day a little blond classmate just out and called me “Chocolate bar.” I shot back: “Vanilla!”
Their Parents’ View On Their Racial Differences
PEGGY LIPTON: I was the besotted mother of two beautiful daughters I’d had with the man I loved–I saw Kidada through those eyes. I thought she had the most gorgeous hair–those curly, curly ringlets. I still think so!
QUINCY JONES: I felt deeply for Kidada; I thought racism would be over by the eighties. My role was to put things in perspective for her, project optimism, imply that things were better than they’d been for me growing up on the south side of Chicago in the 1930s.
Kidada then began to rebel because of learning disabilities and her “different” skin and hair:
KIDADA: I had another hurdle as a kid: I was dyslexic. I was held back in second grade. I flunked algebra three times. The hair, the skin, the frustration with schoolwork: It was all part of the shake. I was a strong-willed, quirky child–mischievous.
RASHIDA: Kidada was cool. I was a dork. I had a serious case of worship for my big sister. She was so strong, so popular, so rebellious.
How Kidada Tried Hiding White Mother From Black Friends
KIDADA: I was kicked out of Buckley in second grade for behavior problems. I didn’t want my mother to come to my new school. If kids saw her, it would be: “your mom’s white!” I told Mom she couldn’t pick me up; she had to wait down the street in her car. Did Rashida have that problem? No! She passed for white.
Rashida and Kidada with parents, Peggy Lipton and Quincy Jones
RASHIDA: “Passed”?! I had no control over how I looked. … Today I feel guilty, knowing that because of the way our genes tumbled out, Kidada had to go through pain I didn’t have to endure. Loving her so much, I’m sad that I’ll never share that experience with her.
Their mother’s family didn’t quite treat Kidada the same way as they treated Rashida because of her skin complexion:
RASHIDA: But it was different with our grandparents. Our dad’s father died before we were born. We didn’t see our dad’s mother often. I felt comfortable with Mommy’s parents, who’d come to love my dad like a son. Kidada wasn’t so comfortable with them. I felt Jewish; Kidada didn’t.
KIDADA: I knew Mommy’s parents were upset at first when she married a black man, and though they did the best they could, I picked up on what I thought was their subtle disapproval of me. Mommy says they loved me, but I felt estranged from them.
Rashida and Kidada Jones
PEGGY: Kidada never wanted to be white. She spoke with a little…twist in her language. She had ‘tude. Rashida spoke more primly, and her identity touched all bases. She’d announce, “I’m going to be the first female, black, Jewish president of the U.S.!”
Kidada and Rashida both had MAJOR social consequences for being biracial, but their experiences were very different:
KIDADA: When I was 11, a white girlfriend and I were going to meet up with these boys she knew. I’d told her, because I wanted to be accepted, “Tell them I’m tan.” When we met them, the one she was setting me up with said, “You didn’t tell me she was black.” That’s When I started defining myself as black, period. Why fight it? Everyone wanted to put me in a box. On passports, at doctor’s offices, when I changed schools, there were boxes to check: Caucasian, Black, Hispanic, Asian. I don’t mean any dishonor to my mother–who is the most wonderful mother in the world, and we are so alike–but: I am black. Rashida answers questions about “what” she is differently. She uses all the adjectives: black, white, Jewish.
RASHIDA: Yes, I do. And I get: “But you look so white!” “You’re not black!” I want to say: “Do you know how hurtful that is to somebody who identifies so strongly with half of who she is?” … When people don’t know “what” you are, you get your heart broken daily.
KIDADA: Rashida has it harder than I do: She can feel rejection from both parties.
Kidada finally got what she wanted when her mom decided to let her go to a Black school and that’s when EVERYTHING changed for Kidada:Kidada Jones with then boyfriend, Tupac Shakur
KIDADA: That changed everything. I’d go to my black girlfriends’ houses and–I wanted their life! I lived in a gated house in a gated neighborhood, where playdates were: “My security will call your security.” Going to my black friends’ houses, I saw a world that was warm and real, where families sat down for dinner together. At our house, Rashida and I often ate dinner on trays, watching TV in Anna’s room, because our dada was composing and performing at night and Mom sat in on his sessions. […] I experienced all that heart and soul in black families. I started putting pressure on Mommy to let me go to a mostly black public school. I was on her and on her and on her. I wouldn’t let up until she said yes.
PEGGY: So one day when Kidada was 14, we drove to Fairfax High, where I gave a fake address and enrolled her.
KIDADA: All those kids! A deejay in the quad at lunch! Bus passes! All those cute black boys; no offense, but I thought white boys were boring. I fit in right away; the kids had my outgoing vibe. My skin and hair had been inconveniences at my other schools–I could never get those Madonna spiked bangs that all the white girls were wearing–but my girlfriends at Fairfax thought my skin was beautiful, and they loved to put their hands in my hair and braid it. The kids knew who my dad was an my stock went up. I felt secure. I was home.
RASHIDA: Still, our love for the same music–Prince, Bobby Brown, Bell Biv DeVoe–would bring us together on weekends.
Now it makes sense why Kidada was engaged to Tupac. She chose to be with one of the most prominent pro-Black men of her generation because it probably helped her connect to her Blackness that she was also in search of as a child.