Oh boy! The outrage was real this week with the leaking of Pharrell's newest album entitled "GIRL." Alongside Pharrell on this musical masterpiece's album cover was Pharrell, of course, and 3 women (none of them appearing to have the tiniest fleck of Black melanin) or should I say, they looked racially ambiguous. Now I'm sure the response wasn't supposed to be as explosive as it was, considering this was Pharrell's "ode to women." But Black women did not take kindly to the lack of representation on this Black man's cover art and took to twitter to let the world know.
I'm not gonna lie, as a dark skinned Black woman, it's insulting to see yet another Black man exclude women who wear the same skin they do, and deal with the same prejudices. But after the initial shock which should last for approximately 3.5 minutes and no longer, it shouldn't really come as a surprise. Our beautiful Black men uphold and fall for women of all different races all the time. You can look at Kevin Hart or Kanye West who are with non-Black women or Michael Jordan and Taye Diggs who are married to non-Black women. The difference between Pharrell and all of the other aforementioned men is that in spite of all this outrage, his wife, Helen Lasichanh IS a Black woman.
Personally, as a woman who struggled with accepting her skin color for many years, and witnessed very few of us as renowned leaders, news anchors, and on magazine covers, I believed early on that the closest color to white, the more advantages a person would have. I learned later that you don’t need to be smack dab in the middle of the limelight, or in this case, on someone’s album cover, to “make it.”
If you're looking for hip hop and the media to validate your beautiful Black skin, you're looking in the wrong place. Yes, it would've been nice to see a Lupita Nyong’o skinned 'GIRL' on the cover. I think that would've been dope. But the industry and it's execs are bigger than you and me. Maybe it's to avoid stirring the pot too much, although it seems pretty stirred to me. Or maybe it's his reality. His wife isn't that "dark skinned" either. But I honestly don’t think it was a racial stance on Pharrell’s part to exclude Black women.
*Pharrell did say that the woman he’s standing the closest to on the cover is in fact a Black woman. I don’t like that we couldn't just tell though. We had to guess. Did we have to guess that the first woman was white?
From his Breakfast Club interview: “Man, it must suck to be that Black woman on my cover… When they find out that she is Black, then what? Then we're arguing among ourselves within color. Then the argument is going to be, is she brown enough.”