‘The Good Place’ and Chidi help redefine the Black nerd

William Jackson Harper is nervous. He and I have been on the phone for five minutes, and he’s walking around his living room as we speak, analyzing everything he’s saying and hoping he hasn’t said anything stupid. I can relate.

“Are you pacing right now?” I asked. “Because I pace all the time.”

“Yeah, I’m pacing,” he said. “I am.”

As a self-described neurotic, he takes his nervousness as a given. Later, he tells me about how hard it is to make dinner plans. He and his girlfriend have talked about it. 

Why do light-skinned women dominate the pop charts?

It seems every conversation about colourism in pop music must come back to Beyoncé. So it was when Mathew Knowles, record exec, former Destiny’s Child manager and Beyoncé’s father, appeared on SiriusXM radio to discuss research by Texas Southern University, where he is a visiting professor. Their study found that over a 15-year period it was lighter-skinned black women – the likes of Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and, of course, Beyoncé – who dominated Top 40 airplay. When asked how different Beyoncé’s career would have been had she been darker-skinned, Knowles was unequivocal: “I think it would’ve affected her success.”