Dear Everyone, How About We *Not* Police Paris Jackson’s Race?

“I am what I am. I’m aware of what I look like and [I’m] finally happy with it,” Jackson says

Stacy Lee Kong

Paris Jackson Photoshop: Paris Jackson at the 2018 Oscars in a green gown and high ponytail

Paris Jackson wants people to stop Photoshopping her skin tone. In a tweet posted on March 7, she asked fans who create edits (a.k.a. fan art) inspired by her to stop lightening and darkening her skin.

i appreciate everything y’all make for me, i enjoy every single edit i see. but please stop lightening my skin to make me look more white. and please stop darkening my skin to make me look more mixed. i am what i am. i’m aware of what i look like and i finally happy with it..

— Paris-Michael K. J. (@ParisJackson)

Her fans likely think they’re just making aesthetic choices, but what they’re actually doing is weighing in on her racial identity—and that’s a problem. It doesn’t matter if they’re making her look more white or more Black, by changing her skin tone, they’re communicating an idea of who they think she should be.

Of course, we’re guessing by the edits they’re creating that most of her fans haven’t been thinking about Jackson as Black, even though that’s how she identifies. Last year, she made waves when she told , “I consider myself Black… [my dad] would look me in the eyes and he’d point his finger at me and he’d be like, ‘You’re Black. Be proud of your roots.’ And I’d be like, ‘OK, he’s my dad, why would he lie to me?’ So I just believe what he told me. ‘Cause, to my knowledge, he’s never lied to me.”

We say “waves” because there was some  over Jackson’s identity on social media. Rumours about the Jackson kids’ paternity have been circulating for years, undermining Jackson’s claim to her racial identity. But that’s not fair—as she notes later in the Rolling Stone article, plenty of biracial people can pass for white, which shouldn’t negate their claims to the other half of their heritage.

Jackson isn’t the first celeb to open up about being biracial. In 2015, Zendaya told  that it means, “you get the best and the worst of both worlds,” but that “there were a lot of times when you try to figure out where you fit in.” And last year, Meghan Markle told , “I took an African-American studies class at Northwestern where we explored colorism; it was the first time I could put a name to feeling too light in the black community, too mixed in the white community.”

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