Pharrell: ‘If you don’t think I love Black women, then you don’t understand me’

pharrell ebony

Pharrell Williams covers the new issue of Ebony. It’s a surprisingly great cover shot, right? Obviously, Pharrell is an ageless vampire, but there’s something about his style that seems… I don’t know, like he transcends “trendy.” He would look cool in any era of music, you know? Plus, I’m just grateful that Pharrell isn’t wearing a Native American headdress on the cover. As for the interview… Pharrell touches on the recent events of Ferguson, plus the accusations that he doesn’t care about black women:

Pharrell Williams gives one of his most provocative interviews on topics ranging from women to racism, in the November issue of EBONY magazine. In honor of the annual Men’s issue, the producer and co-judge on the NBC hit series, The Voice, speaks candidly about how the tragic death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. impacted him as a Black man, husband and father. Williams’ shares:

“I don’t talk about race since it takes a very open mind to hear my view, because my view is the sky view. But I’m very troubled by what happened in Ferguson, Mo.”

“When things like that happen, we need to be a united cell. We need connective tissue to be linked by spirit and spirituality. For every individual who gets killed, someone should build a school or teach a child. We really need to balance things with positivity”

Williams also hits on personal controversy. The Virginia native addresses the rumors surrounding his bias against Black women, which sparked when the cover for his latest album, Girl, showcased only non-Black females.

“I love Black women,” says Williams. “If you don’t think I love Black women, then you don’t understand me.” He continues to add, “I have obsessed over Black women since the days of Jayne Kennedy, Beverly Peele and Roshumba Williams. Those are the women I daydreamed about growing up.”

[From Ebony via Sandra Rose]

The “controversy” about Pharrell not appreciating black women started with his G.I.R.L. cover – critics claimed that Pharrell was surrounding himself with some of the lightest-skin ladies he could find, although Pharrell pushed back on those accusations, saying that one of the ladies was black or mixed race and why did it even matter?

As for his comments about race and Ferguson… I don’t think Pharrell is comfortable taking on a more political role. Jezebel compared Pharrell’s statements to Kanye’s craziness about how celebrity privacy is the New Civil Rights Movement or whatever, but I’m not seeing that. I just think Pharrell doesn’t want to be political.


Cover courtesy of Ebony, additional photos by Fame/Flynet.

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52 Responses to “Pharrell: ‘If you don’t think I love Black women, then you don’t understand me’”

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  1. QQ says:

    I get he is trying to keep it light and his audience wide and whatnot but the reason why Tumblr and Twitter stays calling him New Black is cause of these parsing pussyfooting lukewarm I-don’t-wanna-offend- the- coinpurse-base statements and “why can’t we all love each other” type mess, and the thing is that people get angry cause he has Money, time and a Platform to speak eloquently and often about these issues, and the fact that should he have less money or act more aggressively (which he used to in his Neptunes days… come off more Brash) he’d be in trouble, or worse compared to Bratty ass ‘Ye, he’d be look at as more of a menace and that’s a Fact

    whatevs we still have Jesse Williams online and on the ground not playing any games!

    • K says:

      Imma sip some of this truth tea. ☕️

    • Tiffany27 says:

      Two things @ QQ:

      1. WORD!

      2. Jesse Williams is EVERY SINGLE THING I WANT IN A MAN.

      • HH says:

        SAME HERE! I’m holding out hope.

        My backup plan isn’t that great: I’m always a champion for love so I truly wish he and his wife a happy, healthy marriage. That being said, if divorce happens, I’ve got dibs.

      • QQ says:

        Re: 2- EVERY.SINGLE.ONE and then the sprinkles and the Cherries on a Sundae

    • WTF says:

      QQ I’ve gotta bring out my Georgia Girl roots and tell you – You ain’t gonna worry me about tellin the truth this morning.
      Thank You

    • HH says:


      I also think it was not the appropriate choice of words to say Pharrell doesn’t “love” Black women. I think he does. It’s just that when you request beautiful models for your cover (and you know that was the request) and all of them represent European ideals of beauty, it seems…odd. The beauty of Black Women is so minimally acknowledged, celebrated, or appreciated, that we have a certain expectation that men of our own culture will do so. When this doesn’t happen, it’s a disappointment. A very deep disappointment that I’m not sure other cultures will understand. If men who have grown up with the love of Black mothers and sisters do not think of our beauty as “on par” or something to be celebrated, it’s extremely hurtful. Hurt that turns into anger.

      *BTW, Very deep topic to do justice in a paragraph.(le sigh) But i like to provide some explanation/background/context since we have so many readers of different cultures and nationalities.

    • silke says:

      whatevs we still have Jesse Williams online and on the ground not playing any games!

      YAASS!! Jesse Williams is my bae, my everything!! He’s always gets sh*t right!! His Twitter, Tumblr & Instagram are The Truth.. Also Jeffrey Wright is a very vigilant activist as well on his Twitter @jfreewright.. He gives it to to you str8, no chaser.. Haters be damned lol

    • Betty says:

      I’m so grateful for Jesse Williams, and I don’t even watch “Grey’s Anatomy.” That said, I believe Jesse has a degree in African-American studies or something similar, so perhaps that’s why he feels more comfortable speaking out. He can do so in an eloquent manner. The average entertainer doesn’t have a college degree and many never even finished high school, so I don’t necessarily think they can easily discuss complex issues such as race, class and gender. Still, I think it’s a shame that Pharrell can’t offer anything more than “I don’t discuss race.” Sounds like he’s definitely thinking with his wallet when he says that.

  2. Francesca says:

    Thank goodness no headdress! Now if we could just get people to realize that Rosaries are not necklaces.

  3. Josefa says:

    I think he’s very, very good at what he does and I like him a lot. More than not political I think Pharrell doesn’t want too much attention on him at all. He seems to be like that, releasing succesful albums and then coming back to the behind-the-scenes work. He’s composed and produced a lot of the biggest hits of the past decade. If he was a famewhore, we would’ve noticed a long time ago.

  4. Nev says:

    Peace out!!!!

  5. Tiffany27 says:

    DYING @ “Bored in bed? Maybe it’s you”

  6. K says:

    Ugh. I used to love you Pharrell.

  7. Kiddo says:

    You don’t need a school as an answer to police brutality or injustices. You need justice and fairness in treating all citizens as equal human beings. I’m confused, a little, by his response.

    • FingerBinger says:

      You know how they plant trees in Israel in memory of someone? I think that’s what he’s alluding to.

  8. Sam says:

    Just because he is black and famous does not automatically mean he needs to be the spokesperson for all the wrongs in the world. On the one hand we see so many people complaining about celebs not being able to shut up about whatever agenda they are pushing and on the other hand when we have people who don’t want to be the face of some outrage people complain that they are too soft or trying to please everyone rather than take a stand. If he doesn’t want to be shouting from the rooftops in every interview he does about what he thinks is wrong in the world, that is his prerogative. I have liked him for many years and will continue to like him. If he wants to voice his opinion or not, I don’t care. I like his music and his funky way of existing. I’m not gonna hate on him for not wanting to speak out on issues. In fact I wish more people would follow his footsteps and shut the hell up sometimes.

    • ab says:

      my thoughts exactly. damned if you do, damned if you don’t, I guess.

    • Davy says:


      He wants to make music, let him. He’s never courted fame, this guy lives & breathes music. It’s ridiculous to insist he become an activist just because of his race, I’d rather hear from people with education and experience on complicated issues. Just do you pharrell, make good music. Believe in love, equality and positivity if that’s what you’re about, just do you.

    • venus velvet says:

      Totally agree. If artists feel compelled to express their political or religious views in their work, that’s up to them, but stop putting every celeb on the spot with current issues like it’s a litmus test. It doesn’t matter to me what they think, who knows if they’re even well-informed? Plus they have a right to keep their views to themselves. This is why I rarely talk about politics or religion with people I don’t know well, because they can be super judgmental and make a lot of assumptions. Be your own spokesperson for your own views and let them be theirs.

      • Dolce crema says:

        They only get one vote just like everyone else, so why should we worry about their ideas or opinions on politics ?

    • Sofia says:

      Yes and Yes. There’s too much noise coming from people who seem to use issues to deliberately get more attention or well intended ones who think that because they are famous they have some sort of authority to speak up.

    • andypandy says:

      No one is asking Pharell to be an activist .He is being taken to task for continually making disingenuous if not right downright stupid statements (masquerading as profoundness )

      The only solution for young black men being summarily executed by Police or wanna be cops is for those killers to be held accountable(which rarely ever happens ) nothing more nothing less. If police kill a black man every other day what does this have to do with building a school or teaching a child ??? WTF
      Race isn’t something Black think /talk about every second of the day , the problem is when OTHER people wont let them forget they are black by profiling and killing them while they are simply shopping /holding a toy gun in Wal-Mart, Driving , walking on the road , listening to music in their car going home with a late night snack etc.
      Pharell father was a janitor there was a time in his life when he could have easily suffered the same fate as a Trayvonn Martin, Jordan Davis or Mike Brown.
      He doesn’t have to be an activist but he doesn’t have to be a coward either

      • Sofia says:

        You think he is being a coward but he may just be uncomfortable because anything he says can be use politically. He is a musician and is allowed to be superficial because he doesn’t preach anything to anyone. Maybe he really just likes music and doesn’t care about anything else. It’s not like he is the only one.

  9. Somenestolemyname says:

    Love Pharrell.
    He makes good songs.
    He makes me Happy.
    He can enjoy making,that’s fine with me, I love the guy.

  10. sassenach says:

    Honestly, if he is going make these type of insipid remarks in regards to police brutality, then it is best if he just says “no comment”. The Kayne’s , Pharrell’s, and Jay’z need to fall back and out of favor for being so useless.

    • Kiddo says:

      That’s what I thought too. Very disappointing because I like him as an artist. “Brutally honest interview”? Meh.

  11. FLORC says:

    Did everyone forget his song “Don’t worry about it” or N.E.R.D. fame? He’s atttracted to this girl with dark skin and says just that. Or must he keep proclaiming those things over and over again?

  12. priss says:

    I know from personal experience that he also loves white women, although his gf was Asian when I knew him. He’s a really nice dude, or at least he was 10-15 years ago. “Happy” for his success, he deserves it.

    • Betty says:

      I think it’s natural for people to be attracted to different races. I find it more disturbing when people claim not to find a certain race attractive. The fact that he likes whites and Asians doesn’t mean he’s not also attracted to black women. His wife is black, after all.

  13. NEENAZEE says:

    Super talented guy, seems grounded and he’s helped create some really amazing music over the past 15 years that has been popular and influential…
    I watched The Voice earlier this week for the first time and was impressed by his interaction with one of the singers who lost his battle. He said “Do you know how many things you wanted in your life that you didn’t get? If you stop now, then ‘no’ was right.” Words worth remembering when things get tough…

  14. JenniferJustice says:

    Pharrell is not a motivational speaker, a pastor, a teacher, or any other position that would require him to be the spokesperson for a race of people. I don’t understand the expectations here. He is a quiet humble man who avoids the spotlight. Seeing him on the voice is the most I’ve ever seen him because he isn’t a fame whore. His wife is black. The women on the controversial cover are not all white. In fact only one looks white – the red head. The other two are dark-skinned and somewhat exotic looking.

    I would hate to be asked the questions that every famous black man is being asked now – how do you feel about what happened in Ferguson? How do you feel about what’s happening in Africa? Do you support President Obama? Do your kids go to public school or an all-African American school?

    Why is he expected to share his views on politics, racism, police brutality, etc. just to be bashed when his answers don’t align with the majority of the African-Americans’ views? It seems to me he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. If he’s honest, he’s not supporting the African-American population enough. If he lies and says what the black majority wants to hear, he’s pulling the race card and being another Kanye big-mouth. Pharrell strikes me as a very spiritual person. He exudes peace and harmony, has a gentle soul, and makes fantastic music! He is an entertainer and a producer. He is not a politician or a spokesperson.

    • WTF says:

      I don’t think anyone is asking him to be a politician or a spokesperson. In fact, from what is posted here it is not clear that he was asked specifically about Ferguson. He’s sharing his view and that is fine.
      The stuff about black women and his video, well IMO that is fair game. As a black woman, I am one of his fans. If he were my brother and he shot a video about beautiful girls and he didn’t include any african american women, then I would take him to task for it. This isn’t even out of anger. This is about people with a shared experience and community holding each other accountable. The same institutional racism that made it hard for him to succeed as a producer, defines beauty as something other than us. Not to mention, he’s married to a black woman. If he has a daughter, is that the kind of energy that you want to put out in the world for her? Women who look like you and your mother aren’t beautiful?
      He made a mistake, he got some grief about it. That’s life.

  15. michael says:

    he’s married to a black woman.

  16. maddelina says:

    He’s an artist. Why does anyone expect him to be a spokesperson regarding race? Maybe people should think about themselves being a human first and forget about bringing up race every chance they get. It only creates division.

  17. Sumodo1 says:

    Pharrell’s jumped the fashion shark and is now channeling Bella Abzug. Oh, honey, no.

  18. Eleonor says:

    He is the other half of “blurred lines”.
    He lost me with that song.