While the public continues to rage against the recent grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Darren Wilson, Pharrell Williams says one conversation is lacking: the bullying behavior from the fallen teen before he died. Williams says a large component of the social justice dialogue should be aimed at “bully-ish” acts as integral parts of inner-city violence in America, according to a report by Root.
Pharrell is known for “Happy,” a song of that transcends all races, and has sparked a global following. Williams is also known for being a super-producer and Voice coach who adds a creative dynamic and sensitivity to music. He lauds it as a platform for him to be able to speak about things that are dear to him.
Williams sat down with Ebony magazine and addressed many facets of his career. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, who has caught the public’s ire in the past over his controversial remarks on race (“The new black doesn’t blame other races for our issues”), didn’t parse his words on the death of Michael Brown.
“I don’t talk about race since it takes a very open mind to hear my view, because my view is the sky view. But I’m very troubled by what happened in Ferguson, Mo. The hangover from Ferguson is going to be a long one, worse than Trayvon Martin.”
Williams spoke specifically about the surveillance video that allegedly shows Michael Brown taking cigarillos from a store by force without paying moments before he was fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson. When asked about the moments ahead of Brown’s death in the store, Pharrell described his perception and reaction to the alleged “strong-arm robbery.”
“It looked very bully-ish; that in itself I had a problem with. Not with the kid, but with whatever happened in his life for him to arrive at a place where that behavior is OK. Why aren’t we talking about that?”
Mitzi Miller, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine, spoke to CNN Wednesday and attempted to set the record straight about Pharrell’s “bully” perception of Brown, as seen in the convenience store’s surveillance tape. Miller said that the media took Williams’ comments out of context, and he believes in personal responsibility. She believes that “life is hard and kids are going through things that create aggression in them” and do things that are not inappropriate, but law enforcement should not use excessive force in an effort to punish them.
Pharrell wasn’t one-sided in his take on the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. While he denounces bullying in general, Williams still maintains that the actions taken by Darren Wilson weighed heavily in the unarmed teenager’s death.
“I believe that Ferguson officer should be punished and serve time. He used excessive force on a human being who was merely a child. He was a baby, man. The boy was walking in the middle of the street when the police supposedly told him to “get the f–k on the sidewalk.” If you don’t listen to that, after just having pushed a store owner, you’re asking for trouble. But you’re not asking to be killed. Some of these youth feel hunted and preyed upon, and that’s why that officer needs to be punished.”
Pharrell Williams also went on to blast police departments all over America in their military posture against ordinary citizens, the disproportionate amount of minorities stopped, killed and arrested in America. He also suggested that Obama, who did not travel to Ferguson after the uproar began, could have done more to calm the unrest.
“I felt like the president should have gone down there. I think sending Attorney General Eric Holder was a kind gesture, but the president should have gone. He didn’t have to go and take a side; all he needed to do was show his presence and everybody would have straightened up. But he didn’t go. I won’t fault him. He’s a man with a lot of weight on his shoulders, but I personally would have gone because being a ‘man of the people’ means you’re right there with them in it.”
Many are outraged at Pharrell’s suggestion that Michael Brown was a bully on the day he died. However, others say the larger picture is about parental responsibility and the perceptions teens and young adults create that ups their chances of a confrontation with police. Was Williams merely trying to strike a balance and suggest both sides must take personal responsibility?
[Image via: DTSFT]