Looks like Skateboard P’s got a lot to say in his GQ interview, and he’s not biting his tongue. In addition to talking about the 2016 presidential race (he thinks Hillary Clinton is a lock), Pharrell took a little time share his thoughts on the controversy surrounding the cover for his album G I R L.
Many called the “Happy” musician out for his lack of a brown-skinned Black woman on the cover art, despite the fact that he’s made his career making music Black folks have supported over the years. At the time, Pharrell explained that one of the women on the cover was, in fact, Black, and that people were too quick to condemn him for dissing Black women.
Although it made the rounds on blogs and social media, the criticism about the G I R L cover seemed pretty much over. But when GQ’s Zach Baron brought it up during their chat, Pharrell was eager to set the record straight.
In short? Although Pharrell says he loves being Black, don’t expect him to wave a red, black and green flag anytime soon. Oh, and dark-skinned sistas? Stop being so insecure, Mexicans have it way harder.
Peep the excerpt:
There were people who criticized you for not including more black women on the cover of G I R L. How did you feel about that?
Do you want me to be honest with you?
It’s insecurity. 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? That’s why I wrote “Marilyn Monroe,” man: That which makes you different is what makes you special. 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. And 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! In fact, the media will tell you I’m the first black person that’s had a number-one record in America in a year since Rihanna’s “Diamonds” in 2012—the first black person! The media tells you that. So why do I need to roll around with a scarlet letter on my forehead that says “Black”? 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?
So why are we still having this conversation? Because look: Lenny Kravitz is biracial, but to me and everybody else I know, he’s known as one of the biggest black rock stars of all time. Our president: He’s biracial! Mom was white, daddy was black, and he is black. So what do you want me to do, go picket in front of the White House that he’s not black enough? So to me, that’s a divisive conversation that just comes at the wrong time, because the first black guy to have a number-one record in over seventy countries—number two in this country, to Rick Ross: I’m happy! That’s my man. No one deserves it more than him. But at the end of the day, the rest of the world: It was mine. 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.
It doesn’t make sense to me. That kind of divisiveness is not necessary at a time when we’re supposed to be unifying. That’s what happiness is all about, and if you look at my “Happy” video, I had everybody in there: fat, skinny, gay, straight, purple, polka-dot, plaid, gingham print, houndstooth, alien. I fuckin’ had dogs in there! I had children in there! I had kids in there! I’m the most indiscriminate person that there is! I believe in equality.
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.
Glad we got that all cleared up.