Beyoncé's Sister Just Opened up About What It's Like Hearing White People Say The "N" Word

September 30th 2016

Laura Donovan

Solange Knowles, the younger sister of singer Beyoncé, opened up about how it feels to hear white people utter racial slurs. The singer has previously discussed what it's like to be a black woman in "white spaces" in a series of now-deleted tweets.


Knowles and her mother Tina Lawson recently did an interview on the music website Saint Heron about Knowles' new album "A Seat at the Table," which documents some of her experiences with racism. Saint Heron is also the name of a previous record by Knowles, and part of her record company Saint Records.

Her song "F.U.B.U.", which was inspired by the hip hop apparel company called "For Us By Us," got the attention of Saint Heron interviewer Judnick Maynard, who noted that the first line of the song includes the "n" word (and white people won't be able to sing it in good conscience).

Knowles responded by sharing her uncomfortable experiences with hearing white people say this word in her presence, and she stated that black people aren't always allowed to artistically express their frustrations in the same way as white people are:

"The reality is that I have been in countless situations where non-black people sing and say the n-word around me or around a predominately black group of people. That has been really traumatic for me in some ways, and I have constantly had to have that conversation. But, when I think of 'F.U.B.U.' and the album as a whole, I think of punk music and how white kids were allowed to be completely disruptive, allowed to be anti-establishment, and express rage and anger. They were allowed to have the space to do all of that, even if it meant being violent or destroying property and that wasn’t exactly inclusive to us even if we created the groundwork for rock and roll. If we were inclusive and we were violent and destroying property and able to express that kind of rage, then it would not be allowed in the same way."

She noted that the song "F.U.B.U." was previously going to be called "Be Very Afraid" and include the hook "Be very afraid of the color." In talking about moments that inspired the song, Knowles revealed that she and her friends were once barred from driving into their own private neighborhood because police officers did not believe they lived there, even though Knowles and her friends had a residence pass. They decided to let it go out of fear that the situation with police officers could "escalate":

"It was the police and we knew that the situation would escalate, so we went around and had to walk blocks. I had on these crazy heels and one heel broke, and I just remember actually being humiliated internally that we had to experience that. After that experience, I remember reflecting on the every day micro-aggresions that we experience on a daily and completely reconstructed the chorus, the track and freestyling that specific song. That song has resonated with so many people that have heard it because it is almost an allowance to just let it out. I named it 'F.U.B.U.' because I wanted to empower, and I looked to people who have done that in their own ways."

This comes a few weeks after Knowles published a series of since-deleted tweets about the discomfort black people sometimes feel in "white spaces." Knowles published these tweets after white women asked her to sit down at a concert, a move that she interpreted as racially motivated:

Solange Twitter

Solange Twitter

Read the full interview over at Saint Heron.