Pharrell: President Obama Needs to Visit Ferguson
"When your parents come into the room, you sit up at attention and — as my dad would say — tighten up."
Talib Kweli famously put CNN’s Don Lemon on blast over his channel’s coverage of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and now the 24-hour news anchor is getting an earful from another music icon regarding the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer.
This time it’s Pharrell Williams, who stopped by CNN to discuss his Bionic Yarn textile company, which aims to create denim from recycled ocean plastic (!), and his collaborative line with G-Star Raw. Seen above, the G I R L guy also criticizes the media’s Ferguson reporting.
“I was disappointed that while we had so much peaceful protesting going on, what the media chose to cover most of all and highlight was the random few people who threw molotov cocktails, the random few people that had guns on them,” he says, as Billboard reports. Then the “Happy” singer corrects himself. “Not random… motivated.”
Lemon defends his team’s work, saying he agreed but felt they had done a good job focusing on stories about “volunteers, people doing good things.” And Williams counters: “Yeah but we need to spend more time on the people doing non-violent protesting, which is allowed in this country. We didn’t spend enough time on that.”
To be sure, their exchange was far more civil than the episode with Kweli three weeks ago, and Lemon’s prompting makes for good, interesting television, where one of music’s biggest stars weighs in thoughtfully on important issues that are slowly being left behind by the media cycle.
Most saliently, Williams says he was disappointed the U.S. government’s response, and said President Obama “needs to come down there.”
“Because when your parents come in the room, whether it’s you or your cousin who knocked the vase down, both of y’all sit up at attention and — as my dad would say — tighten up,” he says. “This is a deeper laceration in this country. if you think this is going to blow over… It’s going to be the longest hangover in race relations ever.”
The hip-hop community has been deeply engaged with the affairs in Ferguson, following Brown’s killing. While folks like Killer Mike, T.I. and others weighed in verbally, others such as Ma$e, Lauryn Hill, J. Cole, 50 Cent and G-Unit, and the Game’s all-star team of collaborators including Rick Ross, Diddy 2 Chainz and more all channeled their passion into music.
“There are so many issues that keep being lump-summed into the same issues, wearing your jeans on your butt or below your waistline has nothing to do with being black,” Williams reminds us. “You know how many white kids do that? That’s not a black or white thing. Hoodies are not a black or white thing. It’s an excuse.”
Watch the full clip above.