MN Exclusive: Blogger Pharrell Williams Shouted Out On Oprah Talks Photo Controversy And GIRL Album Drama

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April 15, 2014 ‐ By
Blogger Pharrell Williams Shouted Out On Oprah

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This past Sunday, we were glued to our televisions and completely enamored as Oprah Winfrey interviewed award-winning producer and singer Pharrell about his career, marriage, and fatherhood. While he gave thought-provoking responses, Oprah quizzed Pharrell on the recent controversy surrounding his GIRL album cover. When hip hop feminist Dream Hampton called him out for not having a darker skin women on the cover, the media and internet buzzed with the age-old issue of dark skin women not receiving enough coverage in the entertainment industry. As Pharrell explained the idea behind his cover, he sweetly shouted out Lauren Rogers (@TheLaurenRogers), a Pace University Alum and freelancer in marketing/music management for artist Isa Lopez. Pharrell reposted a photo of Rogers  who “put on her robe” (imitating the women on his GIRL cover). The commentary on her photo was less than amiable on his Instagram page and showed how people are never satisfied, even when entertainers celebrate a variety of women. Yesterday, we met up with Lauren to gain insight on her photo’s backlash and why she remained a loyal Pharrell fan after the GIRL cover controversy.

Were you surprised by the backlash you received when Pharrell reposted your photo?

“I posted my photo to Instagram because I am a huge Pharrell fan (since his NERD days). That night I was about to go to the shower and I said to myself “Im feeling good in my robe. Let me take this picture.” I posted it and my friends and Pharrell liked and commented on it. The next day, Pharrell reposted it and initially it was fun to see everyone’s reaction to my photo until they became negative. I had to remember these people do not know me, at all. I could not take what they said about seriously.”

What were your initial thoughts on Pharrell’s GIRL cover?

“When I saw the cover of GIRL, I thought nothing of it. But in a conversation with my mom, she thought he should have had a darker skinned woman. I had to let her know, the woman next to him is black. The larger issue revolving around the cover is, trying to determine who is black enough or isn’t. It is not fair to judge someone’s worth by the color of their skin. My main priority with the album was to listen to it. After listening to it, as a woman I felt sexy, happy and free. I view the women on the cover as sexy because that is the way I felt after enjoying the music on the album.”

Do you think black women should be guaranteed representation in entertainers’ art work?

“I work with a few artists in the industry and I know how the creative process is. Sometimes, I do think there is a lack of representation where it concerns black women on the covers of albums and magazines. But at the end of the day, no one can tell an artist what to put in their work or what visuals to use. It is hard for artists to decide how they will use their creative control, especially if they feel obligated to do something. Sometimes artists just want to share their work with fans and others no matter what their album covers look like.”

What do you think about Pharrell’s new definition of sexy (i.e. putting your robe on)?

“I think it means feeling good about yourself!  Since I am a college graduate and career woman it means to me, I need to embrace who I am. Yes, I will go through some struggles. Yes, there will be some hard times but at the end of the day I am still myself. I feel comfortable in my skin and I got my robe on, feeling powerful.”

Pharrell states his perception of the “new black” identity as not blaming other races for the issues blacks face in Western society. Do you agree with this idea?

“For black women, we always have to be better. I remember when I used to intern my mom would always tell my to dress up even if the office culture was casual. It is all about how you present yourself. Therefore, our struggles are our own person journeys. You cannot necessarily blame anyone because of the choices you make. You may not have an opportunity currently but when it comes, you must be ready!”

Pharrell prolifically said no one should seek confidence outside of their own mirror. What does that mean to you?

“I agree with him. You have to be able to validate your own self. That has been my biggest struggle but its conversations with my mother that center me. You may want to be friends with a certain kind of people or want a certain kind of job, but if you’re not happy nothing will work.”

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  • TX2Hi

    She had to let her mother know the woman on the album was black! LMAO. Guess momma could not tell. Neither could I. The woman is not black. Black women like the above are always used when it’s convenient. Let us face it the industry has no interest in darker women. You see them here and there in videos. Black women who want to continue supporting men that think nothing of them need to wake up. Let these men choose who they want, but you don’t have to support it.

  • SBoog

    My two cents::: some darker-skinned women personally felt slighted because they love Pharrell… Support him and want to feel included on a cover that is titled, “Girl” … We are girls too right? The Lil Wayne’s and others have not included the darker female for a minute. No one cares… Not a major darker women never included issue there…But Pharrell is “different”…and he’s suppose to include us…cause he’s down….and he IS…So there goes that. The video “Frontin” he had a darker sis as the lead. He appreciates ALL women. So I, as a darker sis, am over this…Rock rock on Pharrell.

  • always right

    I just feel like I need to throw this out here for all of the intelligent people on this blog who may not know this, there is no such thing as being “dark skinned” or “light skinned”. Skin in the way that it is being used is not a verb, as such -ed can not be added to the end of it. Just using the word skinned lessens your argument. The correct way of saying it would just be dark skin or light skin. That simple. Just wanted to put that out there…now carry on with your intellectual conversations.

    • hollyw

      I think you are mistaken. One, anything can basically be made into a verb, as language is an evolving form of communication. Two, “light-skinned”, “light-complected”, and “light-complexioned” are all definable terms currently in use by Merriam-Webster, dictionary. com, and Wikipedia. In other words, even if these terms made no sense literally (which they do), they still hold sociological relevance and are, thus, valid in ‘intellectual conversation’. Good day :-)

      • mmmdot

        I think I love you, lol.

        • hollyw

          Hahaha you just made me laugh :-D

  • hollyw

    …but really, let’s put things into chronological order, so we don’t just end up throwing out a lot of issues and -isms to deflect from the REAL issue. What Lauren and Pharrell saisolidifiesd were true, to a certain extent; some people are never happy, and debating who is “Black enough”, or having to ‘legitimize’ one’s blackness, is also a present issue in the black community…

    However, one came before the others. First, the Eurocentric ideal was forced upon and eventually adopted by blacks, pit lights and darks against each other in an arbitrary hierarchy, and solidified the Eurocentric beauty ideal as also the black beauty ideal; hence, the backlash over Lauren’s photo (thick black woman w/natural hair). So basically, Pharrell AGAIN only perpetuated the same stereotype that fuels the type of negativity towards Lauren’s photo. Way to put a diehard fan to good use, though, Pharrell!

  • Smh

    The “new black” person does not blame other races for our plights in /modern’ Western society? Pfft, that is laughable! The FACT is that although there are certain aspects of our ‘plight’ which can be resolved there are other deep seeded issues that have YET to be addressed! It is like wiping all of our history under the rug and expecting us to just forget that those things did happen and that they do not affect us. EVERYDAY is a constant reminder as to how we were STOLEN from our homes, forced to assimilate into a culture losing our own religions, traditions, languages and everything else and now we have NOTHING to call our own. This representation on the album is just another reminder that we have NOTHING. We cannot even have hip-hop. We cant even be represented into a ‘culture’ that we ‘shaped’ and used as an outlet … initially, to express ourselves. Its all for everyone else now. Lets be real. Its alot bigger than just ‘there are no dark women’ … It is just funny that people are so blind to what is right in front of them. I know that my opinion is not the popular one, but that is seriously the way I see it. (will probably repost on facebook, lol)

  • Andiegurl

    Ok. Did we really think she was gonna say anything negative about Pharell after he gave her a shout out and reposted her photo? Hardly…

    • hollyw

      Lmbo I said the same thing! He reposted a dark-skinned black woman who was fashioning herself after the light -skinned women on his controversial colorism cover…not obvious at all, Pharrell.

      • SBoogie

        He reposted many many different women… Not just her.

        • hollyw

          I see.

  • Jenb

    Maybe I’m one of the few black women who didn’t give to craps about the cover. I never gave it a second thought. My parents taught me to look to myself for validation and not other people. Just because someone has their idea of what beauty is doesn’t mean I have to pity myself or feel bad because I don’t look white. That’s weakness. As for the girl on the cover, I knew she was black in less than 1 second of looking at her. I’m not sure how someone would think she is ‘ambiguous.’ Now if they said the redhead girl was black, then I would go hmmmmm.

    • mmmdot

      Please check out the doll test. They did one in 2006 and got the same results as when they did the test in the 1940’s. As much as black parents teach their black children to love and value their black selves and black culture, society still has a detrimental effect on many of their psyches. And obviously due to numerous studies concerning colorism, it has a conscious and subconscious effect on many black adults as well. http://thegrio dot com/2014/01/16/study-light-skinned-black-men-perceived-as-better-educated/; http://thegrio dot com/2011/12/21/americans-rank-mixed-race-people-ahead-of-blacks-socially/

      • guest

        Who doesn’t know about the doll tests, mmmdot? It does not negate how Jenb feels about herself, thank goodness!

        • mmmdot

          Please read this again “My parents taught me to look to myself for validation and not other people. Just because someone has their idea of what beauty is doesn’t mean I have to pity myself or feel bad because I don’t look white. That’s weakness.” and then read MY response “As much as black parents teach their black children to love and value their black selves and black culture, society still has a detrimental effect on many of their psyches. And obviously due to numerous studies concerning colorism, it has a conscious and subconscious effect on many black adults as well.” This is not about how any individual black person feels about themselves, it’s about the societal issues that lead to many black children and adults struggling with colorism no matter HOW they are raised. This is a MACRO, societal level issue not a MICRO, individual level issue. Thanks.

          • mal

            Duh, mmmdot. Understand your point. Still good that Jenb is making things work for her.

            • mmmdot

              No, you really didn’t understand shxt because if you did, your dingbat a$$ would’ve have shut the fxck up instead of inserting your IRRELEVANT A$$ COMMENT in this when people are trying to have an intelligent discussion. DUH! So sit your dumb a$$ down, thanks.

              • Joyce

                No need to curse at someone if they disagree with you. Wow.

                • mmmdot

                  I repeat: A) first this person made a truly superficial, flippant, glib, and irrelevant a$$ comment about how “Everybody knows the doll test” and tried to defend the tendency of some people like Jenb to inappropriately individualize important MACRO level societal issues. B) In their second comment to me, not only did they reiterate their flippant, glib, and irrelevant a$$ point but in reply to my thought-out and *POLITE* response they got RUDE with by telling me “Duh!” Nope. I mean when you truly *think* about it, If I was truly on some rude shxt I probably could have rudely told them to sit down because their *FIRST* comment was stupid, ridiculous, and irrelevant, but I humored them and POLITELY took the time to explain where I was coming from then this person had the nerve to be not only be flippant again but to add some rudeness in RESPONSE? No. I don’t go there with people who don’t go there with me FIRST. So if you want someone to blame for the lack of civility, please point the finger at the person who INITIATED it with their rude behavior: Guest/Mal. The first comment was already bad enough for being completely unnecessary and it already showed a lack of basic comprehension about the issue at hand but to repeat the same damn flippant, irrelevant, and unintelligent thing in a *RUDE* way in order to get *ME* to dumb down this important societal issue to the superficial, non-critical thinking level that *THEY* are comfortable with? That is some ‘hell no’ behavior all the way around.

              • Joyce

                Jenb was making a personal comment, which is fine. This is a forum. Guest was making a positive comment about Jenb’s attitude. Nothing wrong with that, either.

                You, on the other hand, are more interested in looking at the big picture, which is fine, too. What doesn’t work for me is a lack of civility when discussing a topic from different angles.

                • mmmdot

                  Look , I know you’re still mad about getting all your SEXIST and UNEDUCATED COMMENTS about black women removed off a previous thread, but you need to take that up with THERAPY, not me. Stop stalking and trolling my comments because you can’t get your pathetic grudge about that situation under control. Kay? Your MADE UP accusation is wrong and is based on nothing but a grudge. Build a bridge and get the fxck over it.

                  • Joyce

                    I’ve never been deleted, Guest. You are accusing the wrong person. LOL.

                    • mmmdot

                      Is this “Joyce”? Because your name is coming up as “Guest”.

                • mmmdot

                  This is a two pronged issue.
                  First of all, are you truly going to pretend that Jenb’s comment *isn’t* being
                  critical of black people who are NOT like her and ARE struggling with feeling validated
                  because of the darker color of their skin? Are you really going to do that? I’d
                  really rather converse with Jenb and not have people coming out of the woodwork
                  to make flippant, superficial, and irrelevant a$$ comments like Mal/Guest’s so
                  that JENB herself can explicitly confirm that she is in fact being critical of
                  people who struggle with intra-racism and colorism, but her comment is having
                  the implicit affect of criticizing people who struggle with feeling validated
                  and beautiful in the face of intra-racism REGARDLESS of what her intent is. Why
                  did I come to that conclusion? I’ll try to explain, and I really truly hope to
                  God that you and people who think similarly to you (like Guest/ Mal) understand
                  what I am trying to convey to you the first time (and probably the only time)
                  that I am *truly* going to take the time to break this down. I brought up the
                  doll test for a REASON, and it is germane to why I feel like Jenb comment was
                  inappropriate: because this kind of mentality starts in childhood with many
                  black people struggling with feeling validated because of the darker color of
                  their skin no matter what they were taught by their parents. When you bring up
                  things like parenting and “weakness” in response to black people
                  falling prey to the issues intra-racism, colorism, and the Eurocentric standard
                  of beauty, on it’s face, it’s patently unfair to those black folks struggling
                  with their skin color and intra-racism. If you look at this like a macro
                  societal level issue as a opposed to micro level individual issue and see the
                  way that even black CHILDREN that were raised in loving black homes where
                  parents tried to instill the concepts of confidence and self-validation
                  struggle with internalized racism, self-hatred, and colorism then you really
                  can’t give black ADULTS, particularly women, 100% of the blame for continuing
                  to have subconscious and not so subconciously fxcked up issues around their
                  skin color, even if they *CONCIOUSLY* know better. You can’t really individualize
                  situations like colorism and blame it on black individuals lacking proper
                  parenting growing up, nor can you can you really claim that it’s
                  “weak” for black individuals to struggle with issues of colorism
                  because it has the affect of simply shaming people for having those feelings,
                  when it’s kind of NORMAL and AVERAGE to have those feelings when we live in a
                  virulently racist society that literally DOES prefer lighter skinned black
                  people. It’s fxcked up but it’s an AVERAGE response. If we truly want
                  black CHILDREN and ADULTS to stop having these fxcked up but unfortunately
                  normal and average responses about the Eurocentric standard of beauty, lighter
                  skin, and darker skin colors we ultimately have to remedy it on a SOCIETAL
                  level. And one of the EASIET ways to do
                  that is to *AT LEAST* have some more affirming images of desirable darker
                  skinned black people in our OWN black media and push to have more affirming
                  images of desirable darker skinned black people in the mainstream media, particularly
                  of darker skinned black WOMEN. No matter
                  what anyone says, seeing yourself reflected positively in the media is
                  important for self-esteem– as the doll test AGAIN demonstrates. And if can’t
                  be white media, then it DEFINITELY needs start with black created media. When macro
                  level societal issues like this come up, people such as Jenb always come along
                  who always come along and really unfairly individualize situations rather
                  than approach them with systemic analysis in mind (this is akin to
                  many white people having the preference
                  for seeing racism as a bunch of isolated, overt, or extreme incidents
                  such as racial epithets, rather than ongoing and often unintentional set of
                  attitudes which lead to structures of domination). It’s has the effect of
                  trying to shame other people for not being “strong” like them and A) NOTICING that there were no recognizably
                  black and/or darker skinned women on the album cover in first place B) Having a
                  problem with it and C) voicing that colorism problem is a *CONSISTENT* and
                  *PERSISTANT* issue that we face in this society. That is the effect they are
                  having. Instead looking at the root cause of this systematic issue and holding
                  people’s feet to the fire for creating media that supports the SYSTEMATIC
                  issues the black community and society at large has with raising up certain black
                  women as more beautiful, desirable, intelligent, etc because they have lighter
                  skin and fit a more Eurocentric standard of beauty, they’re blaming black
                  people for noticing it and having a problem with it. As for Guest/Mal: A) first this person made a truly
                  superficial flippant, glib, and irrelevant a$$ comment about how “Everybody
                  knows the doll test” and tried to defend the tendency of people like Jenb to inappropriately
                  individualizing MACRO level societal issues. B) In their second comment to me,
                  not only did they again make a truly flippant, glib, and irrelevant a$$ comment
                  in reply to my *POLITE* response inwere EXTRA RUDE with it by telling me “DUH!” Nope. I mean when you
                  *think* about it, I could have told them to kick rocks and shut up with their
                  *FIRST* ridiculous and irrelevant comment, but I took the time to explain where
                  I was coming from and be polite and then this person had the nerve to get rude
                  in RESPONSE. I don’t go there with people who don’t go there with me FIRST. So
                  if you want someone to blame for the lack of civility, please point the finger
                  at the person who INITIATED it: Guest/Mal. The first comment was already completely
                  unnecessary and already showed a lack of basic comprehension about the issue at
                  hand but to repeat the same damn flippant, irrelevant, and unintelligent thing
                  in a *RUDE* way in order to get *ME* to dumb down this issue to the
                  superficial, non-critical thinking level that *THEY* are comfortable with? That
                  is some ‘hell no’ behavior all the way around.

                • mmmdot

                  This is a two pronged issue. First of all, are you truly going to pretend that Jenb’s comment *isn’t* being critical of black people who are NOT like her and ARE struggling with feeling validated because of the darker color of their skin? Are you really going to do that? I’d really rather converse with Jenb and not have people coming out of the woodwork to make flippant, superficial, and irrelevant a$$ comments like Mal/Guest’s so that JENB herself can explicitly confirm that she is in fact being critical of people who struggle with intra-racism and colorism, but her comment is having the implicit affect of criticizing people who struggle with feeling validated and beautiful in the face of intra-racism REGARDLESS of what her intent is. Why did I come to that conclusion? I’ll try to explain, and I really truly hope to God that you and people who think similarly to you (like Guest/ Mal) understand what I am trying to convey to you the first time (and probably the only time) that I am *truly* going to take the time to break this down. I brought up the doll test for a REASON, and it is germane to why I feel like Jenb’ s comment was inappropriate: because this kind of mentality starts in childhood with many black people struggling with feeling validated because of the darker color of their skin no matter what they were taught by their parents. When you bring up things like parenting and “weakness” in response to black people falling prey to the issues intra-racism, colorism, and the Eurocentric standard of beauty, those types of arguments on their face, are patently unfair to those black folks struggling with their skin color and intra-racism.

                  If you look at this like a macro societal level issue as a opposed to micro level individual issue and see the way that even black CHILDREN that were raised in loving black homes where parents tried to instill the concepts of confidence and self-validation struggle with internalized racism, self-hatred, and colorism then you really can’t give black ADULTS, particularly women, 100% of the blame for continuing to have subconscious and not so subconciously fxcked up issues around their skin color, even if they *CONSCIOUSLY* know better.You can’t really individualize situations like colorism and blame it on black individuals lacking proper parenting growing up, nor can you can you really claim that it’s “weak” for black individuals with darker skin to struggle with issues of colorism because it has the effect of simply shaming people for having those feelings, when it’s kind of NORMAL and AVERAGE to have those feelings when we live in a virulently racist society that literally DOES prefer lighter skinned black people. It’s fxcked up but it’s an AVERAGE response. If we truly want black CHILDREN and ADULTS to stop having these fxcked up but unfortunately normal and average responses about the Eurocentric standard of beauty, lighter skin, and darker skin colors we ultimately have to remedy it on a SOCIETAL level. And one of the EASIEST ways to do that is to *AT LEAST* have some more affirming images of desirable darker skinned black people in our OWN black media and push to have more affirming images of desirable darker skinned black people in the mainstream media, particularly of darker skinned black WOMEN. No matter what anyone says, seeing yourself reflected positively in the media is important for self-esteem– as the doll test AGAIN demonstrates. And if can’t be white media, then it
                  DEFINITELY needs start with black created media.

                  When macro level societal issues like this come up, people such as Jenb always come along who always come along and really unfairly individualize situations rather than approach them with systemic analysis in mind (this is akin to many white people having the preference for seeing racism as a bunch of isolated, overt, or extreme incidents such as racial epithets, rather than ongoing and often UNINTENTIONAL set of attitudes which lead to structures of domination). It’s has the effect of trying to shame other people for not being “strong” like them and A) NOTICING that there were no recognizably black and/or darker skinned women on the album cover in first place B) Having a PROBLEM with it and C) PUBLICLY voicing (on social media like Twitter and such) that colorism problem is a *SYSTEMATIC*, *CONSISTENT* and *PERSISTENT* issue that we face in this society. That is the effect they are having. Instead looking at the root cause of this systematic issue and holding people’s feet to the fire for creating media that supports the SYSTEMATIC issues the black community and society at large has with raising up certain black women as more beautiful, desirable, intelligent, etc because they have lighter skin and fit a more Eurocentric standard of beauty, they’re blaming black people for noticing it and having a problem with it.

                  As for Guest/Mal: A) first this person made a truly superficial, flippant, glib, and irrelevant a$$ comment about how “Everybody knows the doll test” and tried to defend the tendency of some people like Jenb to inappropriately individualize important MACRO level societal issues. B) In their second comment to me, not only did they reiterate their flippant, glib, and irrelevant a$$ point but in reply to my thought-out and *POLITE* response they got RUDE with by telling me “Duh!” Nope. I mean when you truly *think* about it, If I was truly on some rude shxt I probably could have rudely told them to sit down because their *FIRST* comment was stupid, ridiculous, and irrelevant, but I humored them and POLITELY took the time to explain where I was coming from then this person had the nerve to be not only be flippant again but add some rudeness in RESPONSE? No. I don’t go there with people who don’t go there with me FIRST. So if you want someone to blame for the lack of civility, please point the finger at the person who INITIATED it with their rude behavior: Guest/Mal. The first comment was already bad enough for being completely unnecessary and it already showed a lack of basic comprehension about the issue at hand but to repeat the same damn flippant, irrelevant, and unintelligent thing in a *RUDE* way in order to get *ME* to dumb down this important societal issue to the superficial, non-critical thinking level that *THEY* are comfortable with? That is some ‘hell no’ behavior all the way around.

          • Von

            Amen! And I’ve rejected any ideology that told me I was inferior regardless of what society says. This way of thinking by rejecting societal norms takes courage.

  • mmmdot

    Look this is bigger then Pharrell. He is a symptom of the problem. Let’s stop acting like the black community and society at large doesn’t have a colorism issue.http://thegrio dot com/2014/01/16/study-light-skinned-black-men-perceived-as-better-educated/; http://thegrio dot com/2011/12/21/americans-rank-mixed-race-people-ahead-of-blacks-socially/ Maybe if there was more *BALANCE* in the the media (and by that I mean black media and mainstream white media) and darker skinned women were reflected more there wouldn’t be such an outcry when black women look at media item that is created by BLACK people, like Pharrell’s album cover for ‘Girl’, see women all over it, can’t spot anybody else who is recognizably black besides him, and literally have to be *TOLD* that there is a black woman on the cover. Come on now. Let’s use our critical thinking skills, PHARRELL, and look beyond the surface of this issue. And even though this girl is a fan of his, as a dark skinned black girl, she *ALSO* needs to use her critical thinking skills in situations like this. I’m a fan of Pharrell’s too but I am NOT going to pretend like there was no colorism at work here when there clearly was. This is obviously about a media and society at large that attempts to subjugate black women by means of substituting our blackness with more socially acceptable light skinned black women or racially mixed women, who then turn around and publicly complain that black women aren’t accepting of them. It’s a vicious circle. I obviously, the light skinned women aren’t to blame for being light skinned and being used to uphold a more Eurocentric standard of beauty, THE MEDIA and SOCIETY are. So many of them need to stop taking it personally when black people are critiquing THE MEDIA that is using them to subjugate darker black people through colorism. We need to be able to hold people’s feet to the fire for participating in colorism consciously OR subconsciously. Period.

    And I like Pharell’s music and I’m glad he’s having success but he needs to shut the entire fxck up about the “new black”. I understand that he has to pander to white people if he wants to keep working with them but all things considered “EQUAL” in the “EQUAL OPPORTUNITY” American job market, A WHITE EX-CON is more likely to be hired then a black person with EQUAL QUALIFICATIONS and NO CRIMINAL RECORD AT ALL. http://rethinkecon dot org/2013/08/19/job-discrimination/ Black unemployment has “OFFICIALLY” twice that of white unemployment since the government started tracking employment statistics in 1972. No matter what the education level is, from high school dropout to college educated we are consistently unemployed at least twice the rate of whites. We are unemployed at rates that would be considered RECESSION or DEPRESSION level rates for the rest of the country i.e. white people . And for anyone even THINKING about bringing up affirmative action, white people benefit from it more then black people do http://ideas.time dot com/2013/06/17/affirmative-action-has-helped-white-women-more-than-anyone/. I don’t think Pharrell is stupid, but I sure as hell do KNOW that he is extremely ignorant and uneducated about how pervasive racism is in this country, not to mention globally. His money is protecting him from seeing how bad things have gotten for black people to the point that we are having to fight to keep our rights to vote again. So I reiterate, he and any other black people like him need to say something like “no comment” when they can’t speak intelligibly about racism and fair opportunities in this country.

    • Guest

      Pharrell acknowledged the impact of racism during his interview with Oprah. I think that he is trying to say that blacks need to focus on making ourselves competitive to be successful in our society…and that nothing can hold black people back.

      We can acknowledge racism but succeed despite it, obviously. As tough as things may be in America, Africans are immigrating here at unprecedented rates. They come because they are focused on the opportunities, not the limitations. Many of their children are thriving and are taking are taking a disproportionate number of spots at elite universities.

      I think that Pharrell’s intentions are good and his advice is good, too.

      • mmmdot

        I’m sorry but how could you have possibly read my ENTIRE post and still managed to have said this: “blacks need to focus on making ourselves competitive to be successful in our society…and that nothing can hold black people back.” I just can’t. Did you read the part about white ex-cons being more likely to get jobs than similarly qualified black people WITH NO CRIMINAL RECORD? Please read what I wrote again and again until you understand what I’m saying. Then please try to attempt to consider the notion of not blaming black people for white racism. I am NOT responsible for employers thinking that a white ex con is MORE EMPLOYABLE then a black person like me with no criminal record. I am not responsible for employers discarding the resumes of people with “black names” when they have they same EXACT qualifications as a white applicant. Do you know anything about selective migration? Many of the Africans that immigrate here, particularly the Nigerians, tend to ALREADY come from AFFLUENT FAMILIES, that are ALREADY HIGHLY EDUCATED. It takes money and drive to come here. When you have money you have resources. Resources help make PERVASIVE RACISM easier to deal with. That doesn’t mean that the racism doesn’t exist, it means that these particular people ALREADY have money and education as a buffer to deal with the racism when they are exposed to it. Besides the fact that immigrants to ANY country tend to be a particularly high achieving people in the first place. That certainly doesn’t mean that there aren’t a bunch of poor, lazy, or no-account people back in the country they immigrated from where they came from. Again, please put your critical think hat on and research these issues before jumping to easy conclusions. Thanks. http://www.education dot com/reference/article/unraveling-minority-myth-asian-students/ ;
        https://www.bostonreview dot net/books-ideas/stephen-steinberg-chua-rubenfeld-triple-package

        • guest

          I read both of your posts. I stand by my comments about Pharrell, and I acknowledged that racism exists. I did not blame black people for white racism either. My question to you is this: what are we, as black Americans to do when racism is not going to go away anytime soon? If we don’t prepare ourselves to compete all will be lost.

          Despite the recent economic turmoil there are still millions of middle class African Americans. Most of them faced significant obstacles in this society, and yet they prevailed.

          Of course it takes drive to immigrate. Yet you cannot deny that immigrants come to the U.S. because they see more opportunities than obstacles. As for money….many of the Africans and black Caribbeans who immigrate don’t have a lot of money. They scraped together every penny they had to get here to give it a shot….just like my father did.

          • mmmdot

            Look, if you are going to be consistently willfully ignorant then don’t converse with me. Maybe you read what I wrote but you surely didn’t comprehend it. And since you know that you have a flimsy and weak point now you’re attempting to change the goal posts of you’re “There are sucessful black immigrants, so any black person who is constantly complaining about racism is not willing to work hard enough” arguement from the Africans to the Afro-Caribbeans? Why can’t you just stick with the African immigrants? Oh, I know, once you found out that many of them come here with financial and educational resources, they couldn’t make your incredibly superficial and simplistic argument work anymore! You’re not slick. Maybe if you had looked at the two links that I PURPOSELY, and I do mean PURPOSELY provided at the end of my second post to illustrate my argument, you would have probably been loathe to bring up Afro-Caribbeans in response to this issue. Next time, don’t attempt to tell people what YOU “THINK” YOU KNOW when they are telling you what they ACTUALLY KNOW. Yes you have acknowledged racism exists. Great. Now admit how fxcking pervasive and omnipresent racism in this country is. Do some research about: A) How pervasive racism is B) The economic status of the black middle class BEFORE and AFTER the recession C) Selective Migration and the differences between how Black Americans and Black Immigrants are treated before you try and come back at me again, because I really have no intention of CONTINUING to humor your willful ignorance when we’re on the internet where this information is readily available for anyone who is willing to look for it. Even worse is when I provide information and you fxcking ignore it–I mean that kind of willful ignorance is extremely shocking.

            In answer to this: “what are we, as black Americans to do when racism is not going to go away anytime soon?” Well the first thing to do is to stop blaming black people for white racism which is EXACTLY what you’re doing when you say things like this “[Africans immigrants] are focused on the opportunities, not the limitations.” ; “you cannot deny that immigrants come to the U.S. because they see more opportunities than obstacles.” Stop blaming black people who are ANGRY and AWARE for their attitude about all of those of all the obstacles because their attitude in response to racism is normal and completely justified. As James Baldwin said :”To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” Second, is to OPENLY acknowledging where and when those racial obstacles are occurring at .Every .Single .Turn and laying the blame for the obstacles where they belong. ( I recognize that not everybody has the fortitude for that all the time, but don’t go on to try and use stupid a$$ arguments like “This immigrant group did it, so why can’t more black Americans”with black people who DO have the fortitude openly have that kind of stance. I get enough of that stupid a$$ “model minority” argument from racist whites, I don’t need to hear it from other black people.) Third is trying to REMOVE and FIX those racial obstacles so that they will no longer be there, instead of trying to tell other black people who again have the fortitude to not put up with this shxt to get by them and “live” with them. That’s equivalent to saying “don’t stir up trouble”. I don’t think so. That’s my answer and it all brings me DIRECTLY back to this: Yes you have acknowledged racism exists. Great. Now admit how fxcking pervasive and omnipresent racism in this country is. When you do that, maybe, just maybe you’ll stop using the ridiculous arguments you’ve been using.

            • louvres

              why do you always have to be insulting while talking to someone who doesn’t agree with you? why call her/him ignorant?!!

              • mmmdot

                Look troll, I know you’re still mad about getting all your SEXIST and UNEDUCATED COMMENTS about black women removed off a previous thread, but you need to take that up with THERAPY, not me. Stop stalking and trolling my comments because you can’t get your pathetic grudge about that situation under control. Kay? Your MADE UP accusation is wrong and is based on nothing but a grudge. Build a bridge and get the fxck over it.

                • louvres

                  so I made this up “Look, if you are going to be consistently willfully ignorant then don’t converse with me.”? and “When you do that, maybe, just maybe you’ll stop using the ridiculous arguments you’ve been using.” just to quote a few…that was rude.

                  • mmmdot

                    Look troll, I know you’re still mad about getting all your SEXIST and UNEDUCATED COMMENTS about black women removed off a previous thread, but you need to take that up with THERAPY, not me. Stop stalking and trolling my comments because you can’t get your pathetic grudge about that situation under control. Kay? Your MADE UP accusation is wrong and is based on nothing but a grudge. Build a bridge and get the fxck over it.

            • Guest

              You do not understand the rationale behind my arguments. I actually know quite a bit about the topics at hand. It is possible to understand the facts and studies and data that you reference and come to a different conclusion about the remedy The difference between you and me is that I do not think that you can “remove” or “fix” racism. Legal remedies will not suffice and hearts are hardened.

              I really don’t think that racists will change to the degree necessary to address the issues that you outline. So…I believe that we have to compete better because it is the best strategy in a horrible situation.

              I will take you up on your suggestion to converse no longer. Your lack of curiosity about my position and name-calling are annoying me. LOL.

              • mmmdot

                Did you? Is that why you attempted to change the goal posts of your “There are successful black immigrants, so any black person who is constantly complaining about racism is not willing to work hard enough” argument from the Africans to the Afro-Caribbeans and couldn’t just stick with the African immigrants? Is that why when the “African immigrants” argument didn’t work you tried to bring up the fact that Afro-Caribbeans don’t tend to immigrate here with money when one of the articles I referenced SPECIFICALLY said this about Afro-Caribbeans: “As for the Caribbean students who succeed, whether in college admissions or in business, they rarely come from affluent families, but they still have class advantages that place them a rung higher on the ladder than African Americans, and they encounter less racism as a result.” Is that what someone does when they know “quite a bit” about the topics at hand? Oh, please. You keep using nothing but anecdotes and the superficial simplistic conclusions you jumped to because of how successful many black immigrants are in comparison to black Americans to back up your arguments. It’s plain to see. I mean the first problem was when you said you read my first comment where I pointed out that white ex-cons are more likely to get jobs than similarly qualified black people WITH NO CRIMINAL RECORD and white people benefit more from affirmative action than black people do and you still responded with this: “blacks need to focus on making ourselves competitive to be successful in our society…and that nothing can hold black people back.” I mean claiming that “NOTHING” can hold black people back after reading that white ex cons are considered more employable black people with the same qualifications and no criminal record? That was just fxcking shocking.

                As for using different groups of black immigrants to support your arguments: I’m not even saying I don’t understand the conclusion you JUMPED TO with believing that because black immigrants come to America looking at the situation of racism in a more optimistic manner and they end up having more positive outcomes (i.e. focusing on opportunities, rather the limitations or obstacles that racism causes). It’s an utterly understandable and very easy conclusion to jump to–which is why I tried to help you see there is more that is going on beneath the surface (such as many African immigrants having resources), asked you to research these issues, provided some links regarding the issue, and asked you to use some critical thinking skills in my FIRST reply to you. Then when you made that comment about Afro-Caribbeans, it was obvious that you had not only not bothered to do any research before replying, YOU HAD NO INTENTION OF DOING ANY RESEARCH AT ALL. In fact, you didn’t even look at the links I provided. Which is why by the time I made my SECOND reply to you I was HERE with it: “I have no intention of CONTINUING to humor your willful ignorance.” Sorry that you’re choosing to continuously be willfully ignorant. It’s not “calling names”, it’s stating the facts and I don’t have time for it, because it was particularly shocking that you obviously hadn’t AT LEAST read any of the links that I provided. I’m *STILL* struggling to understand why you *JUST* couldn’t read the links BEFORE responding. You could have *easily* saved yourself the embarrassment of making a comment where you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s almost like I included them for nothing.

      • Alice

        The problem with the argument “if black people just worked harder, then they can all do better” is that it completely ignores the fact that there are social and political structures set in place to make sure no matter how hard some black people work they will never prevail. That is a fact.

        • Guest

          My point, perhaps a cynical one, is that the socio/political/economic barriers that black people face are NOT going to go away. I am certainly not ignoring them. I just think that the only tactic that we have left is to compete more effectively.

          • hollyw

            You’re right; that is cynical. There are two; fighting to become better, but also fighting for our right to equal treatment. Both are our responsibility, not just the one.

        • Barbara

          this is the sad truth, growin up in the 70s i thought by now this would be a non issue but it is worse than ever,now i see a country that will be all brown within the next 20 yrs and maybe bein 2 white will be an issue please lets get over this and move on 2 real issues like hunger and homelessness and war peace my friends

    • louvres

      college dropout? affirmative action? 2 whole paragraphs?!!!!! it’s just a cover! chill!

      • mmmdot

        Look we already went through this sh!t before. I refuse to dumb down my sh!t for dumb trolling fxcks like you. Kay?

      • mmmdot

        Look troll, I know you’re still mad about getting all your SEXIST and UNEDUCATED COMMENTS about black women removed off a previous thread, but you need to take that up with THERAPY, not me. Stop stalking and trolling my comments because you can’t get your pathetic grudge about that situation under control. Kay? Build a bridge and get the fxck over it. I don’t even KNOW why you replying to something that *I’M* writing when you clearly haven’t gotten a handle on your bitterness yet. We already went through this sh!t before, and I refuse to tolerate your trolling bullsh!t, so I’m not sure why you’re replying to MY comment at all when you clearly have nothing productive, relevant, positive, intelligent, or insightful to say to me–AS USUAL.

        • louvres

          So you think I’m mad because of something at madamenoire? really? that is ENTERTAINMENT! I already forgot LOLL! You are taking thing things here way too seriously..we can exchange ideas but at the end of the day it’s an entertainment blog and people are gonna respectfully agree to disagree…you are the only one mad here calling people names…that is crazyness…

          • mmmdot

            Look troll, I know you’re still mad about getting all your SEXIST and UNEDUCATED COMMENTS about black women removed off a previous thread, but you need to take that up with THERAPY, not me. Stop stalking and trolling my comments because you can’t get your pathetic grudge about that situation under control. Kay? Your MADE UP accusation is wrong and is based on nothing but a grudge. Build a bridge and get the fxck over it.

    • Alice

      You have been spot on this entire discussion! I couldn’t have said it better myself!

      • mmmdot

        Thanks for the support! It’s been coming at me from all sides but I *do* try to know my shxt and I always advocate for critical thinking and looking beyond the surface of things. The fact that Pharrell did not chose ANY darker black women to be on that album cover doesn’t come out of a cultural vacuum.

  • always right

    You know I never understood why some women got so upset over that cover. I’m a dark skin woman and I don’t need to see women of my same skin color to appreciate by beauty or to feel like I’m accepted in hip hop or society as a whole. If Pharrell wants to use white or lighter skin women then that’s his choice. He’s used darker women in his videos before yet many don’t bring that up. I just don’t get it. It’s like some people are never satisfied and are always looking for reasons to bring someone down. Why can’t we all just be happy for his success?

    • sunny

      I don’t see the issue either, as many lighter skinned women that represent these arenas, yet you still have lighter skinned women with self esteem issues… These issues are from within, not because of what is being advertised in the world.