Pharrell is Confused About the Anger Over His Album Cover

Colorism is still an issue.

By Jamilah King Feb 28, 2014

Pharrell’s new album "G I R L" isn’t even out yet and it’s already drumming up controversy. The album’s cover was released this week after it became available for streaming on iTunes, and many people quickly pointed out its lack of color. Pharrell responded, noting that one of the women in the photograph is indeed a light-skinned black woman from Wisconsin.

Here’s his interview with the Breakfast Club:

He told the Young, Black and Fabulous

I’m standing by a black woman. My business is run by a black woman. My mom partially looks after my business and she’s a black woman. I’m married to a black woman. I’m confused. I guess once you get the album you will look inside and see she’s a black woman. I’m sorry that from that vantage point you can’t look at her hair and tell that she’s black.

My intentions are…this album is an ode to woman. It’s not necessarily an ode to a shade, it’s an ode to women. And to people who are confused by that, you have got to know me better than that. Look at the "Frontin" video.

And here I am trying to put ordinary, beautiful girls on the cover…not no models. I didn’t go to 29 agencies looking for runway models. I wanted ordinary people because I don’t think celebrities or models are the stars anymore. I think pedestrians are the stars. And I think beautiful pedestrians will run the world and that’s what I consider myself, like a pedestrian.

I understand it. Hopefully when they see, they’ll see. 

But, as Jamilah Lemeiux writes, colorism is still real. 

And I am SO disgusted at the almost excitement on the part of some of the Black men who want to throw P’s statement (especially the fact that he mentions his Black wife and Black female business partner) in our faces. Because the fact that one of those women is Black changes WHAT? Colorism is real. Light skinned preference is real and I have encountered far too many people who have been HURT by it. And I have read too many statistics that speak to how it impacts employment, education and dating to sit here and act like it doesn’t matter because we have a Black president or whatever fallacy you want to throw in the air to protect yourselves from the truth: if it doesn’t hurt you, you can’t be bothered. 

 Pharrell’s new album will be released on March 3.