‘Yo, You Don’t Need Nobody To Represent You:’ Pharrell On The Alleged Absence Of Black Women On ‘G I R L’ Album Cover

March 25, 2014  |  

Last month when Pharrell debuted the art work for his new album “G I R L,” he received a ton of backlash for failing to include black women on the cover. Though he initially responded to the controversy explaining that one of the girls appearing on the cover was actually black, in his recent interview GQ he provided more in-depth thoughts on the criticism he received.

“It’s insecurity,” he explained. “If you love who you are—and I’m not saying that there’s not a plight out there for people who have different skin colors, because Mexicans go through just as much discrimination, if not more discrimination, than black people do in this country. Right?”

Ironically, he adds that he actually put his friends on the album cover and reiterated that the young lady standing closest to him is black.

“You don’t gotta be waif, white, and thin to be beautiful. You can be anything that you want to be, and what I chose to do is put my friends on the cover. The girl that was closest next to me is black, but they didn’t know that, so they jumped the gun.”

The “Happy” singer went on to express that a lot of the backlash he received did come from black women, but not all of it.

“It wasn’t all black women. There were a lot of black women that were really angry at some of those girls, but some of those girls are the ones that instantly get mad when they don’t see somebody that’s dark. And it’s like: ‘Yo, you don’t need nobody to represent you. You represent you. You represent the best version of who you could be. You go out there and change the world.’ Because I’m black, and I wouldn’t trade my skin color for nothing. But I don’t need to keep wearing a badge that tells you that I’m black every time I do something! I’m black!”

He went on to argue that discussions regarding degrees of blackness in this country are senseless and foster division.

“My mother’s black, who’s a big part of my business; a black woman runs my business; and I’m married to a black woman. What more do you want? And why are we talking about this? And if we’re going to talk about degrees of black—what is it in this country? I still believe that if you are at least 1/32nd of black blood in your body, even if you look like you, you are deemed black. Right?”

“Right,” his interviewer responds.

“So why are we still having this conversation?” the newly married producer argued. “I’m a black man. I’m happy to be black, and anybody that is not happy to be black will point around and ask for that kind of sympathy. But the thing is, let’s not ask nobody for no more sympathy. Let’s get together ourselves and support ourselves.”

After citing a few major accomplishments of figures in the black community, he closed his argument by insisting that with all of the greatness out there, being black is nothing to be insecure about.

“So which is it? Is President Obama black or not? Since you’re so mad: Is he black or not? Come on, man! We ain’t got time for that. We are black people. This is the new black. Oprah Winfrey: That’s the new black. She’s a black billionaire. President Obama: He is a black American president. Regardless of what you think about him, this is his second term. That’s the new black. LeBron James: the first black man ever shot on a Vogue cover, a black man. Me: a guy that’s written a song at 40! Nominated for an Oscar, four Grammy awards—at 40! That’s the new black! And by the way: a song that has transcended my lyrics, my own intention, and has become a movement and helped cancer patients. That’s the new black! Black ain’t a color: Black is a spirit, and it is ubiquitous. In fact, there’s more black out in space than there is stars. We have nothing to be insecure about.”

Read Pharrell’s full interview here. What are your thoughts on his stance in the whole colorism debate?

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