Pharrell Williams: There’s this narrative that we don’t know how to take care of ourselves

Pharrell Williams was on Jimmy Fallon’s at-home show this week. Jimmy’s monologue was with his girls in their art room, and it made me laugh out loud a few times. Plus they leave some cute bloopers in with Fallon’s kids. It’s worth watching for that, but maybe I’m just starved for comedy. Pharrell was interviewed on the deck outside his home and he said some really deep things. He’s always like that in interviews, he’s impressed me a few times, but I especially liked his interview with Fallon. I only wish he had taken his sunglasses off. When Fallon asked him how he was holding up he expertly described feeling bad for the situation you’re in but also realizing that so many other people have it worse and that you need to consider them too. He also talked about giving back to his community in Virginia Beach where he grew up and about healthcare and education disparity.

On how he’s doing
I’m very grateful, but it’s hard to be complacent with that just because you’re ok and the people that you love are ok. It’s tough because families are having a tough time, companies are having a tough time if not folding and also there’s a lot of loss of life and a lot of misinformation out there too.

He raised millions for a music festival in Virginia Beach that is now going to charity
We raised $14 million dollars directly and another $7 million indirectly that showed that we could be a beehive, the 757 [Virginia Beach]. When this thing started happening we decided that while we’re not going to entertain, we’re going to get out there in the thick of it all and continue to look after the 757.

We hooked up with the World’s Central Kitchen. This past month they fed 1.3 million people. We’re going to try to ensure food for people who are food insecure. We also get to have our local restaurants stay open and cook for these people as well.

On disproportionate access to health care
There’s this narrative that people who look like me, brown and black folks, that we don’t know how to take care of ourselves. We’re twice as likely to get asthma and it’s not that. It’s just that the health care is disproportionate, and you’re seeing the effects of that now. How this is spreading, who is getting the help and access. There’s historical injustices with healthcare, with people of color, and those things systemically contribute to the disproportionate access. This is definitely affecting people of color in a different way. We’re human beings and we wanted to be treated like that.

On disproportionate access to education
Lots more families are disproportionately affected. It’s estimated that 91% of the world’s children are going to be out of school. Obviously the most marginalized kids in the most poverty-striken areas are going to be affected the most. I’m working with Global Citizens on that as well.

[From Jimmy Kimmel on YouTube]

Fallon asked Pharrell about why he wore masks before all this and he said that was because he had been going to Japan for 20 years and it’s part of their culture, essentially. (I’m paraphrasing.) I really appreciate how he explained inequality in healthcare and access to education. I’ve seen conversations about this on Twitter, about how people of color are going to be hit the hardest in so many ways. Here’s a link to an NPR article including some of the alarming statistics confirming this. I know this isn’t going to be a very popular post but I wanted to highlight his interview and the fact that he’s raised so much money for Virginia Beach.

Pharrell is going to be on Lady Gaga’s One World Together at Home concert, on April 18th at 8pm, which is airing on all the major networks simultaneously! There’s also a 6 HOUR preshow. Fallon, Kimmel and Colbert are all co-hosting and here’s a link to more details about the performances. Fallon again clarified that this isn’t a fundraiser that’s asking anything from the audience and is just two hours of entertainment for people. I’m really excited for this actually and am going to set my DVR for it!

Update: Chadwick Boseman also spoke about this in his latest Instagram video. That’s the second video in the slideshow here. He said “The statistics.. have shown the African American community [and] Latino community have been hit the hardest. That’s partially because we’re the ones on the front lines… going to battle every day.” As Kaiser reported he’s highlighting the work of Tull co and Figs which are donating $4.2 million in medical supplies to hospitals in African American communities.

Here’s Pharrell’s interview!

Pharrell in 2017:

Pharrell and his wife, Helen Lasichanh, have three-year-old triplets. From what I can find they’ve never revealed their genders or names.
Embed from Getty Images

Photos credit: and Getty

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9 Responses to “Pharrell Williams: There’s this narrative that we don’t know how to take care of ourselves”

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  1. Ali says:

    As a Canadian, I truly cant imagine living in the states.

    The fact that people are dying from not having health insurance or going bankrupt just makes me sick.

    • Eleonor says:

      It’s heartbreaking.
      I grew up in Italy, and moved to France 10 years ago, the healthcare has always been public not perfect but public. And I have a sweet memory of the hospital here where I live, because I had fractured my wrist 2 days before moving to France, and the nurse at the hospital fought for me, i was checked by a doctor the same day, he made all the exams (he took a radio) then a week later they made me a new plaster. I had the bill sometime later and it was less than 50 euros. I hope the nurse is well.

    • Valerie says:

      Same. I talk almost daily with friends in the states and it’s incredible. I don’t know how they manage to hold onto even the smallest shred of optimism. Their gov is so fucked.

    • Arpeggi says:

      At the same time, we’re letting our old folks die up here because governments never bothered to give good work conditions to those working in hospice facilities, it’s not exactly perfect…

      The things with POC in North America though (and First Nations), is that it’s not “just” a question of access to health, epigenetic and the traumas of generations are also at play. The effects of slavery, of violence, of segregation has an impact of today’s generation’s health. And that multiplies the effects of not having easy access to healthcare

  2. Sarah says:

    Thanks for sharing this, we need to keep having these conversations about inequality and having people make the points he highlights so clearly, celebrities can reach large audiences and help them stop and think.

  3. Esmom says:

    This is amazing and heartbreaking and I’m glad he’s using his platform to talk about the terrifying disparities in the U.S. I know here in Chicago, not only do minorities have less access to decent healthcare, they often live in communities with no healthy food options for miles. It’s insane and I hope that some real, systemic change comes out of this, on numerous fronts.

  4. sunny says:

    I love that you shared this post. It is so important to confront the inequalities that underlie society and how these factors are exacerbated in times of crisis.

    As a black person in Canada, I am grateful for our health care but we also have huge systemic inequalities that we continue to avoid confronting and even with health care access that doesn’t ensure actual treatment because of racial biases. We also avoid collecting race-based data which keeps our inequalities hidden. *Insert headshake here*

    Anyway, glad to see Pharrell doing such amazing work! Glad that he is using his platform in a positive way.

    • lizzieb says:

      @Sunny. Thank you for pointing this out. We have inequalities based on race, with the hardest hit being indigenous people. This is partly due to geography which is also a source of inequality. Thirdly, we have inequalities in under-serviced areas that make no sense geographically. I am hoping we can improve on these. Our health care system has many good points but there are definitely areas to work on.

    • Scotchy says:

      As beige Canadian I co-sign and I also love this post!