Tina Knowles-Lawson Reveals How She Defended JAY-Z After a Woman Called Him a 'Gangster Rapper'

Beyoncé’s mom tells PEOPLE about the incident, which she recalls in her powerful new Discovery+ docuseries, Profiled: The Black Man

Beyonce, Tina Knowles and Jay-Z
Beyoncé, Tina Knowles -Lawson and JAY-Z. Photo: KMazur/WireImage for NARAS

Tina Knowles-Lawson will never forget the moment a flight attendant confronted her on a plane and criticized her for allowing her daughter Beyoncé to marry JAY-Z.

"I can remember getting on a plane and an older white woman saying, 'Oh, your son[-in-law] is a gangster rapper, right? How did you let him marry your daughter?'" the mother and grandmother, 68, remembers.

Knowles-Lawson recalls the conversation in Profiled: The Black Man, a new Discovery+ docuseries, which challenges the negative popular stereotypes about African American men. The Texan businesswoman and philanthropist serves as executive producer on the project that premieres on Feb. 12.

The first episode explores the narrative that Black men "are dangerous" and Knowles-Lawson took the "shocking" incident on the plane as the perfect opportunity to defend JAY-Z, who has been married to the "Brown Skin Girl" singer since 2008.

profiled the black man
Knowles-Lawson is the executive producer of a new four-part Discovery+ docuseries debunking popular myths about Black men. Discovery+

"I was very happy to educate her," Knowles-Lawson tells PEOPLE. "She apologized at the end, and she said, 'I'm sorry. I just hear that.' And I said, 'Yes, you assume, but you really should go and do some research on it because, no, he's a CEO of a record label.' (At the time he was a CEO for Def Jam.) And I was like, 'He's a very good person. He gives, he helps people.'"

Profiled: The Black Man offers Knowles-Lawson the opportunity to defend African American men and boys with the same passion that she defended JAY-Z, the 52-year-old father of three of her grandchildren.

It's a project that she worked on with Trell Thomas, a producer and friend whom she says pitched the idea after tiring of seeing "negative documentaries" about Black men.

"What I was saying is, after watching it, I need a palate cleanse," says Thomas. "I was like, OK, I've seen this. This is really heavy. Let me find something that celebrates us. And I searched all these platforms, and I couldn't find anything. It was just frustrating for me."

Knowles-Lawson adds, "So, I said, 'Well, if you don't see it, create it.' And so, he did."

The result is a four-part docuseries that doesn't just highlight (and attempt to debunk) popular negative stereotypes about Black men being dangerous criminals to be feared. It also interweaves positive stories, uplifting profiles of African American males being businessmen, leaders, philanthropists and great husbands and fathers.

"Hopefully this show will debunk some of those fears, and just show people that we are just normal people and we're not threatening to you," says Knowles-Lawson who, as fans know, is mother to two daughters, Beyoncé, 40, and Solange, 35. "You have no reason to be fearful and we have data and research and experts to back everything up."

Tina Knowles Solange Knowles Beyonce Knowles
Tina Knowles-Lawson with her daughters Beyoncé and Solange. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty/Geffen Records

"We know that our men are not dangerous," she adds. "We know that they're good fathers and all of that. But we want the other races to see that, and get some kind of comfort in it, hopefully."

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Thomas hopes that his palate cleanser will be a welcome respite. "Oftentimes, even when people are trying to celebrate Black people, it's through a traumatic experience," he says. "[During] Black History Month, all the networks are showing slavery movies. So, we are very, intentional that this has to show the joy of being Black. It has to show Black men as real people, and that comes with all the things, right.

"We have families. We have birthday dinners. We celebrate things, just like everybody else does. We have joy just like everybody else does and that needs to be shown."

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