Pharrell - G I R L-cover

The issues we argue about ultimately factor into what we deem intelligent discussion or just braying for the sake of hearing our own voices. That’s how I felt watching social media attempt to implode on itself yesterday when backlash walked up to Pharrell’s album cover for G I R L and felt its presence needed to be announced. That backlash? By black feminists whose initial argument boiled down to there being no women of color on Pharrell’s album. The sub-argument could be a more generalized “why are these women being used as props/accessories” but I digress.

I don’t know how exactly we are to appease certain people who are willing to throw pitchforks at any and everything without researching their targets. Let’s focus on the “original” argument, the lack of color represented on the LP’s artwork, shall we? Pharrell has done many things for black women, his mother helps run his corporation, he’s worked with numerous black women in the past and is married to one. He’s called for support of the arts in his home state colleges of Hampton & Norfolk State and pretty much given black women an anthem for seven summers or longer.

Again I ask, why are you mad? How else are you going to address an album entitled G I R L if the main focus of the album is about women? Should they not pose next to Pharrell not as accessories but as equals? Wouldn’t the argument then be that Pharrell is their accessory since he is speaking about them?

Pharrell addressed the controversy on The Breakfast Club this morning in a phone call interview, just as shocked as anyone else would be about it and also indulging in the smart conversation of how colorism would have been a factoring argument here no matter who he put on the cover.

“What really disappointed me is they jumped the gun, because the one I’m standing closest to is black. She’s a black girl from Wisconsin that I used to date over ten years ago. Maybe twelve years ago. That just must suck man for people to look at something and to assume they know what’s going on. If they just bothered to listen to my album, they would know that my album was an ode to women, period. And the one thing that’s I’m trying to kill … well I can’t kill anything … but the one thing I was trying to aid in changing the crazy statuesque standard of you gotta be white, waif, and thin for you to be beautiful.”

He continues, “Man, it must suck to be that black woman that’s on my cover right now because she’s black.[…]When they find out that she is black, then what? Then we’re arguing amongst ourselves within color. Then the argument’s going to be she’s not brown enough. Then my question to you is, are y’all asking me do I have an Indian person on the cover? Why aren’t you asking about a Pakistani person? A Middle Eastern person on the cover. I just … man. What are we talking about? We’re making huge strides here. Let’s unify, dude. ‘Cause honestly, if you know anything about me, if you’ve seen any of my videos, you seen any of the girls I’ve ever dated, you know I like ‘em all … You would know that.”

Hear the full interview below.