Tyla Sparks Online Debate After Saying She Identifies As “Coloured”

by Gee NY

South African rising star and singer Tyla, recognized for her popular track “Water,” stirred a lively online debate after her Western fans discovered she identifies as “coloured” rather than Black.

The 21-year-old Johannesburg native, Tyla Laura Seethal, mentioned her “Coloured” upbringing in a past interview, linking it to her love for old-school R&B.

The use of “coloured” with a “u” raised eyebrows, as in Western countries, referring to a Black person as “colored” is a racial slur with historical implications.

However, in South Africa, “coloured” denotes a specific mixed-race community with its own culture and identity, distinct from the racial binary perceived in the West.

Tyla has previously shared her diverse ancestry, including Zulu, Indian, and Mauritian descent, aligning with the South African definition of “coloured.”

Despite this, the online response revealed a significant misunderstanding, with some criticizing Tyla for not embracing her Black identity.

Others, including Black and South African users, defended her, emphasizing the need for education on the nuanced usage of the term.

Meanwhile, a journalist has explained the use of “coloured” as follows:

“Coloured is a term that identifies a community who have cultivated a culture, language, and overall identity that wasn’t related to their segregation, but rather to identify the newly established community…Coloured” (again, with a u), was legally defined as a racial classification during South Africa’s apartheid, which lasted from 1948 until the early ’90s. It specifically refers to those who are neither white nor among Africa’s aboriginal groups. They are regarded as a separate race group in the country alongside those who identify as Black, white, and Indian. It does not have the same connotation as it does in America, where it does not feature a “u.” The community is incredibly diverse and doesn’t fit into America’s idea of racial binary.

As Tyla recently gained prominence in the West, especially with her hit “Water,” the debate underscores the complexities of identity and the importance of cultural understanding.

As of now, Tyla hasn’t addressed the controversy publicly.

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