Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Lists, Pop Culture, Race & Politics

Two Thoughts About The Reactions To Pharrell’s GIRL Album Cover

pharrell_girl_album_cover_a_s

1. It’s been two years since Trayvon Martin was murdered. A couple weeks since a jury let Jordan Davis’ killer off the hook for murder. Eight months since I watched Fruitvale Station. These and other notable stories about the tenuousness of Black male life have dominated (and will likely continue to dominate) our conversations about what it means to be present in America. Black males are both endangered and dangerous. Threats and targets. Feared and scared. Policed and…privileged.

Yes. Privileged.

This (obviously) does not apply to all Black males. But, for many who’ve, by the grace of God, managed to make it to their 20s, managed to be employable, and managed to stay out of the system, the tides change. People will support and root for you just because you’re a living Black man with a job and a driver’s licence. Someone might even create a job for you. You have social capital. If you brush your teeth, tie your shoes, and can put two sentences together, you’ll likely have romantic options. You will always be included.

This privilege is also tenuous. You’re still a Black man in America, which means it can be lost forever at a traffic light. Or at a movie theater. But it exists. And the mental juxtaposition of possessing this micro-level privilege while existing in a hostile country can be jarring, comforting, and humbling. Sometimes all at the same time. It can also make you a prick.

I thought about this yesterday when reading some of the reactions to Pharrell’s GIRL album cover. More specifically, I thought about how, when I first saw it, I didn’t think anything of it at all. I clicked on a link, said “Oh, I guess Pharrell has a new album” and went about my day. The “Black male artist surrounding himself with racially ambiguous women…again” thing didn’t even register with me.

A small part of this is due to the fact that I don’t pay much attention to Pharrell. I like his music, but I like it the same way I like grapes and pillowcases. The bigger part is due to me just not being as sensitive to the context making that cover upsetting to (many) Black women. I looked at it and saw an artist trying to convey a sexy type of “fun.” Others saw another example of a prominent Black man shunning his sizable Black female fan base and promoting “other” women as some sort of feminine ideal.

Just as I didn’t intentionally overlook how potentially troublesome that image could be, I’m sure Pharrell didn’t consciously want to insult Black women. He’s probably laying in some hyperbaric chamber below a lake right now, shocked at the pushback it’s received. And both my lack of awareness and Pharrell’s lack of consideration is a result of privilege. It didn’t immediately register to me because I’m not as sensitive to those types of images, and I’m not as sensitive to those types of images because I’ve never had to be. Sure, when someone points it out, I recognize it. And, I’ll even join the “yeah..that’s effed up” chorus. But, despite whichever challenges I face as a Black man, having my sexual/physical/aesthetic value and desirability constantly dismissed (or even ignored) — often by the same people I love and support — is something I’ve never really had to deal with.

2. This conversation brings up another point; a point that makes you wonder if a person like Pharrell or Kanye is caught in a perpetual catch-22.

GIRL’s cover features Pharrell and three women in bathrobes. It looks like they’re in a hotel room. Maybe a private home or resort. It’s (somewhat) implied that they’ve either just finished a foursome, or they’re about to go have a foursome. (8:20 am edit: So, according to some comments here and on Facebook, the cover may also suggest they’re just headed to some type of spa. Which doesn’t negate my main point, but does prove I was raised on Cinemax After Dark.) If this is true, they’re his sexual props, and it would qualify as objectification. Maybe it’s not as explicit as “Tip Drill”, but the idea is the same: “I’m a cool motherfucker. So cool that all these beautiful women want to have sex with me.”

With videos like “Tip Drill”, the objectification was the problem. With the GIRL cover, though, the problem seems to be that Black women aren’t considered attractive enough to be objectified. But, sexual objectification is a bad thing. As is using women as sexual props. Right? Or is it only a bad thing when it’s not done tastefully by someone as cool as Pharrell?

I’d try to answer those questions, but I think I just gave myself a nosebleed. Where’s a hyperbaric chamber when you need one?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • anon in CA

    I’m so tired of people getting offended or feeling some type of way if black women aren’t represented as attractive. Who cares! And no its’s not a privilege that you didn’t see the cover as offensive. It’s a privilege that you have commen sense to just think “oh, P has another album out.” I just can’t respect people who wallow around in false victimhood.

    • Sunf1ower_Jones

      I care, and I guess you do too because you commented. Let me explain why YOU, if you are Black, should care. Unless you’ve lived under a rock, Blacks have been discriminated against for centuries. We have been marginalized, demeaned, and thought of as inhuman, ugly, and animalistic. So the reason I care is that there’s something really sick when we internalize the lies that have been told to us, and then think it’s OK. It is not OK, and I’m sick and tired of Blacks not calling a spade a spade. For centuries, we have been so brainwashed that we believe the lies that are told, so instead of rearing our ugly heads, we come up with b.s. like “Who cares? blah, blah, blah.” If you are Black, you SHOULD care. If you don’t, you are right up there with others who do the same thing. Think about that.

      It’s not “false victim hood.” It is to you because you fail to see beyond your nose. It is NOT victimhood when we perpetuate COLORISM and the hatred of our skin. Are you Black? If not, then this isn’t about you. If you are, then maybe you should cross over to other other side because you are clearly clueless to the 100th degree.

      • anon in CA

        You can wallow around in your ignorance if you choose to. Black people”s history in America is NOT equal to someone not finding black women attractive. Are you are aware that you ARE ASSUMING he feels this way? And even if he did, he is a FREE man and he has the RIGHT to be attracted to women of HIS CHOICE. Maybe you should go to home depot and purchase some nails, (make sure they can support 8 x 12s) hammer and some wood and build a bridge and get over it! Newsflash….the truth is not everyone is going to find you attractive….
        DEAL WITH IT.

        And yes, I am a black woman w/out victim mentality.

      • JOhn Crawford

        You CLEARLY put your Fragile, Neoliberal-Racial Paranoia on Pharrell over a Freaking CD cover……………
        Get Some Help, Seriously.

  • NomadaNare

    I have privilege, but the privilege that comes along with being a cis-hetero male in America. My privilege does not come from my blackness and the shade of argument I think your making is a shade much too simple for someone like yourself to actually believe what you’re saying as far as this “microprivilege” thing goes. As for the other stuff, I think you’re spot on however to be honest, I noticed instantly that none of the women on his album cover were black but that may be because I’m from New Orleans and we analyze that sort of thing down to the precise amount of melanin present in any given person.

    As for Pharrell, I felt that it was again another one of these brothers in the public media that think the height of attractiveness are these runway models and probably only think it because all their friends do. It does piss me off but I couldn’t care less about the intelligence or subtle self hate of people who make music to which I rarely listen. I only commented here for the conversation.

    • Sahel

      These posts about colorism end up being crazy..because no one is willing to accept a different point of view..the light skin women who post here will end up feeling victimized for something that they were born with and darker hued women will see it like nobody gets where they are coming from.

      • NomadaNare

        Yeah. These topics are very hard to talk about so we just don’t. The funny thing about New Orleans is because it’s such a large part of the culture we’re much more open about it and our prejudices. Besides hurt feelings, no one really cares. I have dated girls in high school whose parents basically told me they didn’t want me to date their daughter because I wasn’t “their type of people” and this was said at a graduation party for both of us, in front of her family. Look up the Dejoies in Grahams book about black elitism. Anyways I could go on this topic for hours. These ninjas up top are coming with the cucumber melon face wrap and provocative posts.

    • The Champ

      “…the shade of argument I think your making is a shade much too simple for someone like yourself to actually believe what you’re saying as far as this “microprivilege” thing goes”

      How so?

      • NomadaNare

        This idea of social capital for being a black guy doing the “right” thing. Yeah….. You acknowledge that it’s tenuous, but only because of outside factors that mostly look like overt racism. I’d say that even within the very nature of the “microprivilege” referenced, it only comes as a result of assimilating and adapting the praxis of respectability politics and this is a bit more insidious. You basically have to sell the part of you that doesn’t jive with “whiteness” to gain this “capital” and reap these “privileges” and these sorts of privileges are available to any and everyone that’s willing to make that bargain regardless of their position within the kyriarchy. The white woman can reap “cool white girl” points if she’s okay with sexism and being harassed, the gay guy can be the “cool gay guy” if he’s okay with homophobia and not in anyway attracted to the guys he’s around, the black girl can be the cool black chick if she “doesn’t see color” and provides the illusion (or reality) of sexual access to the guys around her (of any color). In addition to the above, these privileges are easily stripped because of mechanism inside the very system that you claim grants the privilege. Examples include OJ, Vick, Woods, Anita Hill, etc. Basically, I think you’re begging symmetry (even a tiny amount) in a situation that’s entirely asymmetric because of history and it’s something that white people that don’t accept critical race theory do often.

  • mizz

    saw the cover and didnt think anything else other than “that’s a crappy cover”

    • LehcarB

      Same and weird album title. Honestly I saw it and thought , “Is this a play on Girls?”

      • IcePrincess

        Right. I’m getting a whooooole nother vibe from this album cover than champ is. When I 1st heard the album title, I raised an eyebrow, but I let it go. When I jus saw the cover for the 1st time right now on VSB, my gaydar moved slightly to the left. I agree with the person up top that said it looks like they’re hanging at a spa. Nothing sexual in that pic at all. And as far as people saying theirs no black girl in the pic, look again. He IS the black girl! Don’t y’all see how they’re all dressed alike, same shades & facial expressions? Pharrel is doing some artsy sh*t, but clearly he’s playing a girl in that pic. I peeped that right away. Idk the message he’s trying to send, but ok. He gets a pass cuz he’s pharrel, a love able weirdo. He’s from Neptune, for gods sake!

        • LehcarB

          “He IS the black girl! ”

          Lol that makes better sense than my conclusion. I actually analyzed it based on the show and he technically is Hanna. Left is Jessa,Lipstick is Shosh,Marnie in back.

          • Shy Fran

            That’s an interesting point but not necessarily in a good way. It appears that black men are more accepted in mainstream society that their female counterparts. To take it further, feminine black men (Derek J & Ms Laurence) are more accepted than both hetero black males & females alike…which brings about the discussion of the feminization of black males…but I’m on a tangent so let me stop now.

            • LehcarB

              Yes, quite the tangent. I dont even understand the linear progression in which you used to get there.

            • Treece

              Are they really more accepted? Or are black men seen as the weaker, stupider gender who are more easily used in white supremacists agendas? I think the latter. black men are perfect for any white woman who wants to keep the 400-year old “white is right”, “white is more beautiful” racist notion alive. they’re the perfect kiss-ass to white people’s narcissism

            • The Champ

              “To take it further, feminine black men (Derek J & Ms Laurence) are more accepted than both hetero black males & females alike”

              This is totally not true. At all.

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

      It looks like a cologne ad

      • Tia_Sunny

        Or sunglasses ad.

  • Guest

    Pharrell is just another light-skinned ninja that is eventually going to go out of style to me. I guess I’m just used to Black men in the entertainment business uphold our/European standards of beauty. However, this piece and a piece by Erica Turner put BWE blogs into perspective for me. I thought that the majority of the content in those blogs were poppycock. But your article and Turner’s article are making reconsider my position.

  • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

    Y’all already know how I feel about dark skinned women. Whatever. Pharell’s wife looks like these women. He has a type. It’s not a crime to prefer white women or black women who are light in complexion. I give you all Tigo B and his objectification of brown women with ample booty.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3TiZNgV30o

    • Sunf1ower_Jones

      No, it’s not a crime, but it is a shame. You see, we are the only race that seems to hate what we see in the mirror and then write it off as “preference.” Let’s call a spade a spade: It’s self-hatred, self-loathing. Why would your preference be for someone who doesn’t look like you? It’s clear that many Black men have a disease of the mind thinking they are validated by any other woman on his shoulder except his own. Black men are the ONLY group that publicly demean their own kind, yet many Black women would be the first to defend your asses. I find that many Black men are the first to discriminate, yet complain when it’s done to them. Just admit it: Many have issues that have NOTHING to do with Black women, but have a LOT to do with mental illness. You can fix it unless you admit it.

      • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

        Why does one’s preference have to be someone who looks like them? Mental illness does not equate to having a preference lol stop it. You will not belittle mental illness like this.

        • OhNevermind

          She really needs to calm the eff down doesn’t she? I mean wow! She’s extrapolating so much! All you see all over this thread is her bitching at people who are non-plussed by this album cover.

          • Keisha

            I was just thinking the same thing…

      • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

        I don’t know. Indians pretty much give us a run for our money with their billionaire dollar industry on skin bleaching.

        • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

          Have you heard of Dencia? We’re in that, too.

          • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

            *smh* She was so pretty before the bleach too…

            • NomadaNare

              Right though? Now she literally looks like a moist toilette. Her and Sammy sosa.

          • Tia_Sunny

            I saw her pics its crazy how her skin is that pale now and how much effort and time she put into that.

      • PhlyyPhree

        “No, it’s not a crime, but it is a shame.”

        Why? I’m seriously asking and not trying to be argumentative for arguments sake, but why is it a shame? Pharrell doesn’t score lowly on the racially ambiguous scale himself. There are documented instances of him dating from the entire color shade spectrum, as well as using them in various videos throughout his career. To me, it doesnt seem as if his PREFERENCE is an indicator of self or group hatred, so I REALLY don’t understand the flap over this single album cover?

      • Val

        “You see, we are the only race that seems to hate what we see in the mirror and then write it off as “preference.”

        – Nope, not true. There are quite a few ethnic groups that suffer from this.

        “Black men are the ONLY group that publicly demean their own kind…”

        – You really need to do some research. I’ve seen and heard Arab men, Indian men and others routinely go in hard on women of their group.

        • Tentpole

          Your are splitting hairs my friend. Because we fought the good fight and won, we then turned around and decided to start giving away all we fought to achieve. Others races don’t publicly air their dirty laundry for profit. This is why we are falling to the bottom of the food chain. Other races know success comes from doing the exact oppsite of what we do.

          • JOhn Crawford

            You must not have watched Jersey Shore, the “Other” Real Housewives series and the Other Shows on Bravo and E! that show Vanilla Trashiness. SMH

        • Michelle

          Val, I believe Sunf1ower is the regular commentator known as noirluv45, over at Clutch. She’s been Captain Ahab’ing it up today.

      • JOhn Crawford

        Janet Jackson
        Paula “Formerly Known as Mrs. Thicke” Patton
        Stacey Dash
        just 3 of MANY Black Women who Married Non-Black Men…………… You gonna Bash them too or Give them a Pass?????
        There’s a Bridge in NJ I’m sure Gov. Chris Christe would love to sell you, if he could….

    • NomadaNare

      You’re my new favorite.

      • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

        I’ve always been your favorite.

        • NomadaNare

          I think that should be your new tagline: NN’s favorite (Since. 19xx). Might get you some status… ;)

  • JayIzUrGod

    I never understand this stuff. None of the Black women that would be angry with this album cover or have negative remarks regarding the whole Black male celebrity/non-black women scenarios ever get the point that they are not the kind of women Pharrell or anyone like him is around often. Hood rats don’t go to fancy parties and galas that millionaires go to. Same thing with middle class black women, blue collar black women, etc.There is a clear line drawn between the worlds some people exist in and some people don’t. Why this never gets mentioned after all this time is unclear to me.

    And what you make call privilege, I see as an expectation. Its expected if you are black and somehow become rich, you’re going to get see how the other half lives, and you won’t ever look back. You’ll embrace all that comes with it, without batting an eyelash.

    • Sunf1ower_Jones

      So, in your narrow little pea brain, you think the Black women getting upset are hood rats. Are you a Black man? Now what I find ironic is that those same Black women that get oftentimes rejected by Black boys (not men in my eyes) are the same one that are supported by Black women. In fact, you came out a Black woman’s vagina, did you not? I don’t think you know where a lot of middle class, affluent Black women go.

      I find it odd that Black men are so willing and able to dismiss the thoughts and opinions of Black women, all the while screaming discrimination for yourselves. The ones who are supporting you are BLACK WOMEN! Oh, but you’re gonna learn one day. I’m not surprised that so many Black boys are making excuses for Pharrell. The mindset of Black men is sick, confused, and damaged.

      • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

        oh shid….*gets dark chocolate peanut butter and granny smith apple slices*

        • Sunf1ower_Jones

          What the F does that mean? It means nothing because it makes no sense. If you can’t make sense, then keep quiet. If you can have a discussion, then do so.

          • ratchet d-Ibaka

            oooooooooooo, soooooooooooooooooooooookie sookie now!

          • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

            Why are you so angry?

            • Sunf1ower_Jones

              I’m not angry, but I am righteously indignant. If we discriminate against one another and then write if off like it’s nothing, then how are we going to fight the blatant discrimination that we face outside every single day.

              You have to understand that it’s not about Pharrell and this raggedy album cover. It’s about images that WE support, and then we turn around and wanna march for Trayvon and Jordan. It’s just really sick, and the more I think we’ve made strides, the more I read some comments and realize we have LONG WAY TO GO. We should be righteously indignant instead of accepting this nonsense.

              • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

                ok

              • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

                My black skin does not warrant your cosign.

              • Tentpole

                You are not alone with your opinion. We are just waiting for the next MLK to show up and lead us out of this dilemma. Oh wait, that not going to happen because we will dig into his past to find any minute negative details that will force him back into the shadows.

                • anon in CA

                  Boo! Free people don’t need to be led.

            • Michelle

              Where’s O when you need him?

          • TheOtherJerome

            “What the F does that mean? It means nothing because it makes no sense. If you can’t make sense, then keep quiet. If you can have a discussion, then do so.”

            I’m glad i’m not the only one who thinks yelling and snapping at people will eventually get them to see your point of view! Finally! I’m not alone in the universe!!!!

            Also: Hey you kids, get off my lawn!!!!

          • anonymous tip

            She wasn’t talking to you

        • ratchet d-Ibaka

          *taps AP’s ass to see if it’s real and sits next to her to watch the unfolding drama.*!!

          • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

            It’s real, I can’t afford to buy a fake one lol As far as drama. No, I stop at “ok”.

          • Sahel

            Always double tap to make sure

          • Freebird

            *free whispers*

            Is it real?

        • Msdebbs

          somebody’s angry

      • sweetbee

        Thank you Sunf1ower_Jones as I stated above it wasn’t the actual album cover that has me seeing red but the dismissive, downright hateful reaction that black men (on twitter at least) had to it. I was so glad that Global Grind contributor Chrissy Cole took notice penning that boiled it down: “On Pharrell’s G I R L cover art: black men, you don’t get to tell black women how to feel.” Like I said above if I continue on with this debate I’m gonna say some stuff…

      • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

        By your logic, there’s plenty of black women who eye roll at black men who find issue with Scandal, were they conceived by a black peen, are they damaged? The idea that black men aren’t allowed to say that perhaps something is silly isn’t whitewashed patriarchal mindset, some sh t just aren’t that big of a deal, I’m not invalidating your feelings I’m saying that you’re on your own on this one

        • sweetbee

          “I’m saying that you’re on your own on this one.”

          Um, what’s new about that? When it comes to black men coming to bat for black women on anything that quote there is the theme of black women’s lives. Trust expectations of black men coming to the defense of black women are beyond low. So, please, tell things we don’t know.

        • sweetbee

          “I’m saying that you’re on your own on this one.”

          Um, what’s new about that? When it comes to black men coming to bat for black women on anything that quote there is the theme of black women’s lives. Trust expectations of black men coming to the defense of black women are beyond low. So, please, tell things we don’t know.

          • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

            Let y’all tell it, y’all do all bad all by y’all selves miss me with all that. Don’t turn something as silly as an album cover as black men turning their backs on their women, keep that fatherless, brother less, unclelessness over there

            • sweetbee

              And keep that motherless, aunt less, sister less over there too.

              • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/ Tristan

                Mum…nice….comeback?

                • sweetbee

                  Likewise…

      • Kozy

        To you, does not being preferred = being rejected? I think there’s a gap here that, if addressed, might serve to illuminate some things for you.

      • JayIzUrGod

        I’m treating you and your comment like a used condom: disposable, useless, and bent out of shape. Be gone.

    • ASayWhat??

      The way black women handle interracial dating and the way black men handle it is soooo different. I married my husband because I love him as an individual, not because I’m feeding into negative stereotypes about black men being lazy, stupid, deadbeats or otherwise un-marriageable. You will NEVER hear me say a foul word about black men as a whole group. I dated men of all races before I chose to marry a man who treated me well and I thought would be a reliable father. I just decided not to stereotype anyone including my bruthas during my single lady days. It just so happens a winner emerged in white. LOL.

      You ask these black men who only date white women, on the other hand, about their choice and they tell you stereotypes about black women (bad attitude, hoodrat etc.) instead of saying how much they love their wife/gF. This subset of black men often mention trying to get revenge on some girl who they felt OWED them sex in high school etc. They do these things to be intentionally provocative and try to feed negative stereotypes about black women rather than choosing someone out of a healthy love of self and others. I think that is why the divorce rate is so much higher for interracial couples when the man is black. Chauvinism and black woman bashing have become such a trend, but this type of black man doesn’t realize that no woman regardless of her race wants to be in love with an angry, sexist man who really hates himself.

      It’s almost like men who were oppressed feel emasculated to see the women of their race succeed and want to try to oppress black women instead of being happy that we’ve found a way to make it despite the racism that we ALSO face. You see this in a lot of cultures. A colonial power leaves or abates and spousal abuse rates go up, laws against women’s rights etc. I think because black men lack the political power to really oppress black women a certain SUBSET have decided to use old, negative stereotypes to damage women of their own race. Couple that with the fact that blatant sexism is only socially acceptable in the white community if you say the word “black” before “woman” and you’ve got a perfect cocktail for some of the foolish comments you hear from these men.

      Black men were never sexist like this in the past and never openly attacked black women until the post-Jim Crow era and I really think there is something to this “re-assertion of masculinity” period that comes as oppression subsides. Which mean two bits of good news… apparently overt racism is subsiding and if history holds true this SUBSET of men will be drowned out by the voices or happy, healthy black men who love themselves and black women too in about one generation.

      • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

        Um…in terms of this whole Black women not being mad at Black men, there’s this whole blog scene online called Black Women’s Empowerment, or BWE. I’ve read it, and wonder if David Duke ghostwrites for them. Not saying that all Black women who date White guys are like that, but it happens.

        As for interracial dating…well, I do it because I want to f*ck. Preferably hard enough that the woman barely knows what planet she’s on for a day and walks funny for a week. If it’s a sister that’s on my peen, great! If it’s a woman of another hue, that’s cool too. Now, I do know the brothers who have some hate in their blood for Black women. The thing is that mindset cuts both ways and is all over the place. Assigning motivations to that behavior is a fool’s errand.

        And in terms of Black men being sexist against Black women, go read the lyrics of Black popular music since, um…the end of slavery. It’s always been there. It tends to make for popular music. Enjoy!

      • JayIzUrGod

        I agree wirh you. I think some black men, due to how they grew up and who they were raised wirh and by, have a seething hatred for Black women, as i have seen it and experienced it myself. I believe no one gets to the root of this anger and it festers into the divide between Black men and women that we have now. You’re right, there are so many excuses for the bad treatment of Black women and no real reasons.

        But i pose a qurstion to you. Fine, there are no identifiable Black women on this album cover. But what’s worth the argument: Black women on a Black man’s album cover, or a Black woman as a newscaster or historian…something actually positive?

        I guesss because I’m not a woman that i don’t get this, but i do not want to compare myself to White men and go for every market they dominate, i want to find things unique to my perspective and put my Black face there.

        • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

          Hmm. I’m speaking for myself only here. I always have and always will seek out images of dark brown women in various places. Pr0n, academia, business, etc. I do this because I don’t think there’s a problem with seeking out people who look like you in various spaces.

          • JayIzUrGod

            I can understand that notion, you like what you like. But being excluded isn’t just a Black woman thing, and i think that’s where i get confused.

            To many people, i am going to be labeled as unattractive due to my keloided skin. Me fighting against the grain to have my affliction be seen with equality is pointless, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The mass public could careless about what i think beauty is if i don’t repeesent it myself. So instead, i fight the battle of letting actions speak louder than looks. Its the better fight and it hits harder than me crying about “why can’t i be seen as beautiful like everyone else?”

            My point is the cards i was dealt with in life, i spent too much time getting mad about things being unfair until i reshuffled them and looked to win the game in a different way. If the house is always going to win, then let me hit them with something they weren’t expecting.

            • afronica

              If you are beauty challenged, you learn that you look for validation outside yourself at your peril. It leaves you with an outsider’s perspective, but that can be useful.

              • JayIzUrGod

                It is useful but to a fault if you don’t learn to stop relying on validation in order to gain self improvement. That answers reside in ourselves, looking towards the mass media to find our place in the world.is one of the most dangerous things we can do if we can’t be realistic about it.

      • Epsilonicus

        Your second paragraph: It is a whole stereotype. I am married to a White woman, know some other Black guys who date all across race and none of them have a mean thing to say about Black women. Quit trying to create a reason because you may have been rejected for a Becky.

        Third paragraph: Meh

        4th paragraph: “Black men were never sexist like this in the past”. You must not have studied sexism in the AA community. It has been present since we hit these shores.

    • Tentpole

      “Hood rats don’t go to fancy parties and galas that millionaires go to.” Yes they do. You just don’t know it because they can clean up well and keep their mouths shut.

      • Keisha

        LOL…right!

      • JayIzUrGod

        Ok, i take that back. I should have said the most obvious of hoodrats don’t go, since I’ve seen wxactly the types you speak of and where they live.

    • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

      I was with you until you said hood rats, though, J. I won’t be disingenuous and say that you’re making a point about dark skinned women all being hood rats. What it does sound like you’re saying is that the affinity for the non-black type of women Pharrell has on his cover is a class issue. In that case, your statement would underscore many concerns about colorism, that lighter women are thought to bring status to black men.

      “None of the Black women that would be angry with this album cover…” “Hood rats don’t go to fancy parties”

      I’m not following your correlation between colorism (which is what the discussion centered on) and class. Could you elaborate? :/

      • JayIzUrGod

        I messed up my wording. I’m sticking by the hoodrat thing, everybody brings their vision of what that means to the table, but no matter the color, loud, ghetto chicks aren’t going to a Basquiat display or taking trips to a party at a condo that once belonged to Andy Warhol. Neither are most women living in lower suburbs, upper suburbs, etc. If I’m wrong, then I’m wrong, but its always about access and a lot of women, no matter the color, do not have access to that lifestyle.

        Why are the women on the album cover worth picking a bone with if one of the boggest issues women of all races fight hard against being oversexualized? How is an album cover worth more attention than a prestigious school? I feel like whenever this topic of Black women not getting fair treatment with celebrities come up, yall forget celebrities break women like those in the album cover all the time. Why do yall want to fight so hard to be part of a world that disrespects everyone, just because its the most popular for all to see? It doesn’t register with me.

        • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

          I guess I’m with the “ya’ll” because I’m a Black girl; I’ll take that L. :) But I’m not riled up. Just dispassionate.

          I don’t think any Black women on the e-streets or beyond has verbally argued that they want to be oversexualized or objectified. Zeroing in on that as the only representation of Black women in our music does Black men a disservice, in my opinion. But I can generally say that the placement of models in videos and cover art can speak to a preference that often excludes brown-skinned Black women. This is why we call it when we see it. Because so many are h#ll bent on insisting that colorism doesn’t exist, or worse, that it shouldn’t affect us.

          Maybe we fight so hard because this is our world, too.

          I wanted to say this earlier, but it’s not *just* hood rats upset/ concerned about this. So to bring behavior into a convo about colorism confuses me. Is Pharrell not checking for me because I’m brown-skinned or because I have no manners? lol

          • JayIzUrGod

            I’m wrong for my bad stereotyping, so i apologize for that. I tend to forget i can say what i want around people i know and they know what i mean, but online is not the same thing.

            I don’t know who Pharrell is checking for but he doesn’t come to my hood or your hood looking for women to be around. I tend to think that speaks for itself. The women who come to him isn’t a woman like you who wouldn’t make jumping up in his face all day a priority, just to say you’re on the team.

            Yes colorism.is usually treated with broad strokes and i think that’s why people like me keep saying and thinking the wrong things. Because i feel like some things just don’t work when you fight using the same methods. Its what the people in control always think you’ll do and they know exactly how to pacify you. So in my head, a new approach is needed to show that their color bias isn’t going to stop people who want to be seen. But being angry is always temporary, never permanent

            • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

              “But being angry is always temporary, never permanent”

              That, I can get with. It takes a lot to infuriate me. This didn’t do it. But I rather think anger is useful as long is it employed to further a cause, to change a situation. And in this case, I think more people were pointing it out as an example rather than calling OFF WITH HIS HEAD. I don’t believe that talking/writing about it is useless, obviously :) You change peoples’ minds where it matters and the representation shifts.

              Example: 15 years ago, marketing for Black women rarely had women with natural hair as models. Now?! It’s almost predominant. The industry isn’t an immutable force; it’s run by people with biases that can change. And I believe that change is never impossible.

              • JayIzUrGod

                See…this is why i like talking to you. I see the error in my ways, thank you for your help.

                • http://trulytafakari.com/ dtafakari

                  I think my people are the only area where I’m optimistic in life lol. I have to be.

                  • JayIzUrGod

                    People can change. Might take a while, but it can happen. So keep the hope alive!

  • ASayWhat?

    Really you can’t see the difference between this and tip drill????? At least these girls got a bathrobe. Why is it black women’s sexuality always has to be vulgar and explicit? I get what you mean about objectification, but if a black woman did an album and was constantly shouting out “white boys” and only put white men in the videos y’all would holler about that more than y’all do about Scandal. #Truth

    • The Champ

      “I get what you mean about objectification, but if a black woman did an album and was constantly shouting out “white boys” and only put white men in the videos y’all would holler about that more than y’all do about Scandal”

      Who is “y’all”? (And some of the strippers in Tip Drill had bathrobes too)

    • JOhn Crawford

      Well, there’s Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes and N.E.R.D.- which Very Few Black Folks like when he’s NOT on a feature of the likes of Snoop, Busta Rhymes, Diddy, or other Hip-Hop Artists, who made songs like “Happy”, “Fun”, “She Wants to Move”, “My Drive Thru”, etc —– and then there is Nelly of St. Louis, who made songs like “Hot in Hurr”, “E.I.”, “Country Grammar” and so on.
      I SERIOUSLY Doubt Pharrell could make that Tip Drill video or song and both Men AND Women would enjoy it on BET Uncut OR in the privacy of their home(s) and Technological devices (phone, laptop, PC, etc)

  • Lyshebaaaa

    I like to think that the bathrobes mean they’re on their way to a pedicure appointment at a posh spa. But also…I think maybe the catch-22 you describe- where if artists use black women in their videos, they’re degrading black women, and if they use non-black women, they’re slighting black women’s beauty- is mainly a problem because artists rely on the same formulaic, uninspired, “sexy” trope.

    That’s why it’s a lose-lose situation; because attractiveness has been made the end-all quality women should have or aspire to, and in every casting choice artists/media execs are saying something about who is sexy and who is probably NOT. The women in Tip Drill and on Pharrell’s cover are both being objectified yes, but do I really need to say…there’s levels to this shi t (didn’t need to say it, but wanted to lol)! The women on Pharrell’s album cover are afforded some (assumed) dignity, because they’re covered and not in a skrip club…and also because they’re not black.

    I guess the question that people are probably wondering is, why black women can’t be portrayed as a “dignified preference” rather than just a good-at-shaking their-asses fix? I’m not mad though, because at least he never struck me as someone who cares for black women much. Not saying he hates em, but I’d be more upset if it was some “conscious” rapper that substituted “caspers” for black women. Long story short, I don’t care.

    • LMNOP

      I like the pedicure hypothesis.

      • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

        first the Westwood hat. now pedicures. #thingsthatmakeyougohmmmm

    • The Champ

      “I guess the question that people are probably wondering is, why black women can’t be portrayed as a “dignified preference” rather than just a good-at-shaking their-asses fix?”

      So basically, placement in Playboy instead of Hustler?

      • http://www.greaterunderstanding.net/ Anthony Brian Logan

        Boom

      • Lyshebaaaa

        Sure. That’s not that far off base. One of them is kind of an honor even if it is sleazy. The other has not been given that “prestige” probably because it caters to and features black folk…or also because Hustler hasn’t been around long enough… shoot I don’t know. I’m not saying the offense taken makes a lot of sense, but it makes some sense. It’s a matter of desirabilty by degrees/levels…whatever.

    • Royale W. Cheese

      “I guess the question that people are probably wondering is, why black women can’t be portrayed as a “dignified preference” rather than just a good-at-shaking their-asses fix?”

      “Dignified preference” does not sell pop music. In that world, you’re either going to be an objectified black woman or not included. The only possible way to not be objectified is to be the artist and not the accessory…and even then you must struggle to be successful while not objectifying yourself in a hyper-sexual manner.

  • Msdebbs

    Hey if they wanna exploit Becky by all means go ahead. And Idk why black women get crucified for twerking and ratchet behavior when Becky is flashing her boobs to EVERYBODY. I’m over the whole notion that “black women aren’t attractive”. If sista’s are so ugly then why are non-black women tanning their skin, and getting lip/butt injections?? Pharrell is just out here trying to make some $$ just like the rest of us. I doubt his intentions were to offend anybody….folks are just too darn sensitive. And I’m fine with any celeb not using black/dark women in their vids and album covers…it doesn’t define me or take away from my beauty so eff dat!

    • Sunf1ower_Jones

      Stop with the “sensitive” nonsense. If you listen to what people are saying, you see that it’s not about sensitivity. That’s the easy way out of not having a discussion.

      I don’t know how old you are. I realize that the younger generation of Blacks don’t have a clue, and couldn’t buy one if they wanted to. You see, colorism is real. We not only get it from outside, but very much from inside. Pharrell’s album cover is not the whole issue. The issue is he chose to fall in line with the notion that “dark is ugly,”That’s nothing new. Some Black men have been doing that for decade. They hate what they see in the mirror and want to erase it by getting someone racially different. It’s a status symbol so to speak. I know there are those who fall in love, but there are those who aren’t, but have issues with their own identity. It did not use to be that way back in my day. Each generation is getting less and less aware.

      Check out this video of this beautiful Black queen (dark-skinned with an Afro). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmNt5zDOUd8. This is what used to be celebrated back in the day. Today, this would not happen. Why? Because many of us have become more and more brainwashed and we are too blind to see it.

      • Msdebbs

        I’m 30 and been called n*gger and black monkey on more than one occasion. I’ve also been discriminated against on more than one occasion (southern living). My point is it’s just an album cover. Making a big stink over one album cover isn’t going to change anything or anyone’s feelings about black women. Personally I think more attention/anger should be directed towards issues that really matter like the very biased stand your ground law.

    • Keisha

      “I doubt his intentions were to offend anybody….folks are just too darn sensitive. And I’m fine with any celeb not using black/dark women in their vids and album covers…it doesn’t define me or take away from my beauty so eff dat!”
      Exactly!!!!

  • blackphilo

    “But, for many who’ve…managed to be employable, and managed to stay out of the system, the tides change. People will support and root for you just because you’re a living Black man with a job and a driver’s licence. Someone might even create a job for you. You have social capital…. You will always be included.”

    Please let me know where to pick up my Black male privilege card. Having heard and thought about the hype, I still don’t experience much privilege arising from the intersectionality of my Blackness and maleness. I’ve somehow missed all that support, and rooting, and always being included “just because” I’m a non-dysfunctional Black man–or maybe I just lived and schooled in the wrong places and went into the wrong line of work. I don’t begrudge other Black men whatever privilege they experience. (“Having my sexual/physical/aesthetic value questioned (and even ignored) is something” I have had to deal with–and I’ve got borderline model-agency looks and height.) I’d only ask that they not generalize by engaging in a version of the apex fallacy. But I am doing well overall–especially for a Black person.

    Speaking of the apex fallacy, if fewer Black women were caught up in it, far more might notice that when they set their sights on not “another example of a prominent Black man,” many less prominent Black men find unambiguously Black women plenty attractive.

    • Rachmo

      Hmmm I kind of agree with your last sentence

    • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

      That last sentence is the gospel. The Apex Fallacy #isreal people!

    • h.h.h.

      Please let me know where to pick up my Black male privilege card. Having heard and thought about the hype, I still don’t experience much privilege arising from the intersectionality of my Blackness and maleness. I’ve somehow missed all that support, and rooting, and always being included “just because” I’m a non-dysfunctional Black man–or maybe I just lived and schooled in the wrong places and went into the wrong line of work.

      agreed. i don’t have black male privilege in a country that sees me as a caged tiger.

      i don’t get support from black women because i’m a black male, i get support from black women because i’m their friend, or it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. Furthermore i’ve always been under the impression that black females are ‘allies’ in the fact that because i am a black male, i’ll automatically get support. we’re just neutral parties with some similar adversaries.

      *shrugs*
      *withdraws*

      • Vanity in Peril

        You may not have black male privilege but you have privilege as a man and for those that can’t see that (but somehow are able to identify it in white people that all claim they aren’t racist, never knew a racist, never sang a Biggie song in da club and never even seent Rosewood!) I am truly stumped. I’m not saying your struggle should be minimized. We can multitask in our fight for the end of oppression and white hetero-normative cisgender white supremacist misogyny. I guess it goes back to that “all the blacks are men and all the women are white” meme where black women are stuck in this intersection and often silenced in both causes. Most “regular” (whatever that’s supposed to mean to a person) black guys date “regular” black women but let’s not pretend that we don’t allow the media to portray black women as some kind of consolation prize. I have eyes and I see the rappers, actors, basketball players and NFL guys and the preference proof is in the pudding. #alliteration

        • The Champ

          “I have eyes and I see the rappers, actors, basketball players and NFL guys and the preference proof is in the pudding. #alliteration”

          Poof! #morealliteration

        • h.h.h.

          i respectfully counter, for me as a black male (and i may be alone in this) that my stuggle is quite frankly, not recognized, and the narrative in the black community tends to shift, or veer towards the black female perspective.

          I have eyes and I see the rappers, actors, basketball players and NFL guys and the preference proof is in the pudding.

          i guess we have different versions of the truth then, because from my vantage point (as someone who worked in sports entertainment on the lower end of the totem pole), even the majority of rappers/actors/athletes marry within their own ethnicity.
          .

          • Vanity in Peril

            It’s okay that we disagree… I’d still be your partner in spades.

          • sweetbee

            Stop and Frisk, Stand Your Ground, mandatory minimum sentencing, disparate crack cocaine vs powdered cocaine laws, felony voting rights, etc. are all black female narratives?

    • The Champ

      “Please let me know where to pick up my Black male privilege card. Having heard and thought about the hype, I still don’t experience much privilege arising from the intersectionality of my Blackness and maleness. ”

      I agree that the apex fallacy has a way of altering people’s perception of reality. But the privilege thing is something that many of us (black men) do possess, even if we’re not particularly aware of it. Also, keep in mind that privilege is relative. We may not possess the same privilege white men/women do, but in comparison to black women, it’s there.

      • pls

        what privilege are you talking about? do you mean the privilege of being a man? i think i’m slow mo today, help me out!

      • blackphilo

        I don’t know whether “many of us (black men) do possess” Black Male Privilege. Apparently, you and many in circles you’ve travelled do. But sheer assertions that “we” do, or that we’re unaware that we do, do not make it so. The notion popular in some quarters–that if you’re a man, and men are supposed to have privilege, then Black American men must have Black Male Privilege–is logically unsound. Intersectionality doesn’t work like that. We’re not talking about white men in the Americas or Europe, or black men in sub-Saharan Africa.

        I’m not denying that Black men often are privileged, in certain respects, relative to Black women. I am saying that no general case about Black Male Privilege has been made, and an empirical basis for such a case is far from obvious. The list of examples you gave is at odds with the experience of more than a few of us–maybe especially those of us who have lived, schooled, and worked in overwhelmingly White environments. But setting this group aside, your broad claim about non-dysfunctional Black men always being supported and included “just because” of our Black maleness is still beyond belief. I don’t doubt your sincerity, though.