Multi-talented artist, Pharrell Williams is at the top of his game and garnered an enviable level of respectability in the entertainment industry. His accomplishments have at times presented him in a light that hasn’t always been favorable within the black community.
He got trapped in muddy waters when he told Oprah “the new black doesn’t blame other races for issues”. His comment was received as a divisive tool that most privileged blacks implement to perpetuate the idea that blacks are generally lazy, lack ambition and prefer to blame society for their woes – instead of working hard to change their stagnant status.
It is a destructive tactic that exacerbates an already sensitive issue. Despite being criticized for his negative word play, Williams continued his controversial thought process when sharing his reaction to Monday’s grand jury decision. While speaking to Ebony, the singer/producer expressed his concern with Michael Brown’s “bullyish” behavior that was on display in the footage showing the teen recklessly stealing items from a store right before he was gunned down. Williams admits that he was concerned with the Brown’s behavior – “It looked very bullish; that in itself I had a problem with”. “Not with the kid, but with whatever happened in his life for him to arrive at a place where that behavior is OK. Why aren’t we talking about that?”
The Grammy Award-winner’s question may hold some validity, but again it holds no significance when you consider the end result. Williams managed to voice his displeasure with the brutality of Brown’s killing and agreed that the officer responsible should be penalized. He also reprimanded President Obama for sending Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson, instead of making the pilgrimage himself.
Regardless of Williams’ sentiments, his “concern” about Brown’s ‘bullyish behavior’ is misplaced. Most teen boys regardless of race or creed tend to be highly energetic and bad decision makers. Parents do their best to discipline but their methods typically take time to sink in – that doesn’t mean gunning them down in cold blood is the best course of action.
The attention should be focused on the reality that an unarmed teen was killed by a police officer who claimed self-defense and won. The nation is in uproar and all we can hope for is no violence, destruction and looting and more communal support and effective action. Burning our businesses to the ground is and has never been the answer or problem solver.