No, punar-bhavaa people like YOU and daenerysvelaryon and P and a few others are missingthepoint. Setting aside all the fuckery about “mentality vs. pigment” for a sec, at the root of Pharrell's “new black” statement are three things:
1. minimizing explicit racism and the very real impact structural racism *still* has on the lives of Black people, esp those who aren’t privileged millionaires
2. (victim) blaming the Black people who may have fallen prey to institutional racism that has been or is being perpetrated upon them (feel free to scroll down to the last paragraph if you dispute this)
3. most inexcusably, there is a HUGE degree of no-fault hall-pass issuing inherent in his “new black” trope; letting poor ole White people off the hook since “old blacks” really have only themselves to blame for not making it (now admittedly, what I call issuing a free-pass, others might call respectability politics or even coonery, but I digress)
I always very strongly question any “new philosophy” which avoids assigning responsibility for a problem. That’s not how we move forward. If you get rear-ended at a red light and you’re injured and your car is totaled, very few people would respond by saying, “it doesn’t matter what just happened, what matters most now is my mentality” Racism is an ongoing, recurring intentional “accident” in America. Acknowledging who is at fault is as important as acknowledging that racism still exists
I sometimes learn a lot from some post comments, and one thing I’ve learned is that the Oprah interview was not Pharrell’s first time talking about the “new black.” He’s a Black man. He’s successful. He has a ginormous platform now. Not so surprisingly, people might actually examine his words when he speaks on social justice issues. It’s on him to clarify if people are taking his meaning wrong (which tbh, I don’t think they are)
And considering his pal, the person who invented twerking, Miley Cyrus *category 5 eyeroll* makes similar claims about “Black is an attitude”…not to mention the whole Robin Thicke thing…I kinda think P needs more friends with a bit more pigment, but pls, not anyone like #BlameYoselfHerman Cain
Two thought experiments for you:
First: imagine a woman saying “the new woman doesn’t blame men for her own problems” Are women wrong to blame men for our individual or collective roles in the income gap or male privilege or rape culture…or is an LGBTQ person saying something similar wrong to question who’s to blame for homophobia and discrimination? I mean, on it’s face that’s kinda problematic even w/o digging too deeply, right?
Second: imagine you’ve just run out of gas somewhere in the deep south, on a lonely desolated road with no cell coverage. You leave your car and start walking. Eventually you happen upon a gas station and walk in and notice swastikas, confederate flags and pictures of Hitler everywhere. Suddenly men in white hoods & robes find you. You’re Black. Which are they going to respond to - your “new black mentality” or your pigmentation??? And if something happens to you, should you just blame yoself? (btw, I said that in my Herman Cain voice)
But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be only the gas station scenario. Except for the fact people aren’t wearing white hoods & robes…the same type of thing can (and often does) happen with job interviews, applying for home loans, going to the principal’s office, walking by the police, etc. To naively suggest “the power of positive thinking” will somehow always protect you if you’re black is rly basic
We all know that not every White person is a member of the KKK, but the insidious thing about structural racism is that they all don’t have to be for the effects of racism to still thrive. All that’s required is a little silencing by people saying things like: racism isn’t really the problem…”old Blacks”…Black people are the problem -them and their lack of positivity; their “mentality” is the problem. And let’s be real here, attitude alone won’t always get you successfully through in a world of structural White privileges
Here’s something a lot of tweeps keep missing: people —all of us— instinctively protect their friends, right?. If all (most, P?) of your friends are White, chances are that one day you might unwittingly defend something problematic they’ve said or done, all in the name of “defending” that friendship. And people can be overly protective of their stars too. I get that. It doesn’t mean that we don’t ever critique them though
I mean, how will P’s die hard stanz feel when he finds out about so-called “reverse racism" and collabs with Macklemore to record "Accidental Black Racists"?
Bottom line: ”tough love” and telling Black people that we need to do our best and try to always be on-point is hardly “new” or deep revolutionary thinking. Especially not where I grew up. FFS, most of us have implicitly understood that we often have to be twice as good just to be seen as competent, since before we were even teens. That’s not a chip on our shoulders and it’s not negativity. It’s called facing reality, and it doesn’t mean we’ve given up or have stopped fighting
P srsly needs to try again & have a big cup of do-betta