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Pharrell paid tribute to Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner (etc!) at the Grammys….and almost all of us missed it.

Pharrell performed “Happy” last night at the Grammys and made a powerful statement…that you probably missed.

Personally, I was caught up on the arrangement (which I happened to like!) and the dancers.  There was a lot going on!

But what I DIDN’T catch, was this….

Media preview

Yes. The “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture that all (who have been paying attention) are familiar with by now as part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement associated with Mike Brown and Eric Garner.

And notice the hoodies? Trayvon Martin? Remember?

Yes. Pharrell did that. And I appreciate him for it.

In case you missed the performance:

The arrangement and performance makes so much more sense to me now. It was a mix of light and dark, happy and…unhappy.  And notice where the unhappy parts come in (piano soloist, etc).  Notice the words. The movements.

This is brilliant. And important.

Now. Some people are still mad at Pharrell because of some previous comments made about Mike Brown.

In a cover story interview for the November issue of Ebony magazine — conducted weeks before the decision — Williams broached the topic of Ferguson, telling the publication’s Kenya Hunt: “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.”

In the interview, published on Ebony’s website Nov. 13, Hunt asked if the singer had seen the surveillance video allegedly showing Brown stealing cigarillos from a local convenience story and pushing a store employee.

“It looked very bully-ish; that in itself I had a problem with,” he said. “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?”

{Huffington Post}

Those comments were made before the grand jury decision.  Here are his comments after:

Pharrell Williams said that ‘everyone is heartbroken’ there was no grand jury indictment of a white cop over the fatal shooting of a black, unarmed teenager Michael Brown, a week after the musician sparked a heated debate by calling the victim’s behavior ‘bully-ish’.

The singer said in an interview late on Monday that his perspective on the case hasn’t changed since the shooting in August.

‘My feelings have been the same since that boy was murdered,’ Williams said backstage at The Voice in Los Angeles, where he’s a coach. ‘Everyone is heartbroken. It’s another teen, unarmed teen gunned down.’

{Daily Mail}

Here’s my thing. Pharrell said Mike Brown was acting like a bully in the convenience store.

AND HE WAS. His behavior was OUT OF LINE. Yes, I said it. It was wrong. So are y’all mad at me now too?

Where I think Pharrell went astray was asking about why we weren’t talking more about THAT. And I ONLY think he went astray because he didn’t really articulate what he was really (I think) asking. Most people interpreted him as saying that we (1) shouldn’t focus on the murder, and/or (2) that Mike Brown deserved what he got.

I disagree with that interpretation. From his later comments, I honestly believe he was simply bringing to light the circumstances behind black men and criminal behavior. Because, let’s be honest, Mike Brown was exhibiting criminal behavior. Does that have ANY bearing on what happened later on that day? NOT. AT. ALL.  And I think that’s what Pharrell should’ve gone on to say.

Pharrell used his performance at the Grammys, “music’s biggest night,” to send a message. And instead of appreciating that, so many are criticizing him for what he said in November 2014.

Is it not possible for people to have one view and then be educated? Is it not possible for people to have a change of heart? Are we going to be mad and upset forever and ever at artists/etc., even if they come around and do something like this? Is it not possible to grow and evolve?

Now, as I am typing this, I am reflecting on my feelings on Young Thug. I’m not here for him, and it’s mainly due to his comments on Ferguson (go to the 1:43 mark).

Personally, I think this was ignorant. And I’m not here for people who don’t even have a CLUE about what’s going on in black America, artist or not (seriously, how do you miss this?).

BUT. Even with this. If Young Thug were to seek out some type of understanding/education/enlightenment and then come back and express his feelings about what’s going on, I couldn’t be mad at him anymore.

Bottom line: Pharrell did something important here. And again, I’m pretty sure more of us missed it. But look what’s happening now. It’s being talked about and recognized.

He has played a major part in keeping the movement going. And for that, I’m not mad at him.

Department of Justice to clear Darren Wilson of Civil Rights Charges

It’s almost the perfectly written script, right?

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has begun work on a legal memo recommending no civil rights charges against a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., who killed an unarmed black teenager in August, law enforcement officials said.

That would close the politically charged case in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The investigation by the F.B.I., which is complete, found no evidence to support civil rights charges against the officer, Darren Wilson, the officials said.

A broader civil rights investigation into allegations of discriminatory traffic stops and excessive force by the Ferguson Police Department remains open, however. That investigation could lead to significant changes at the department, which is overwhelmingly white despite serving a city that is mostly black.

The state authorities concluded their investigation into Mr. Brown’s death in November and similarly recommended no charges.

There is a high legal bar for bringing federal civil rights charges, and federal investigators had for months signaled that they were unlikely to do so. The Justice Department plans to release a report explaining its decision, though it is not clear when.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., has said that he plans to have it done before leaving office, probably in the next month or two if his successor is confirmed.

{New York Times}

Zero consequences for Darren Wilson. None.  And to be honest, I’m less concerned with the lack of these charges (I think we all could see that coming) than with the grand jury’s decision to not indict.

All of this is a sickening mishandling of justice. It’s both heartbreaking and enraging at the same time.

Hopefully, something (ANYTHING) good will come out of the investigation of the department. A blind man can see something isn’t right there.

Does Oprah Winfrey deserve the backlash for her comments about black leadership?

In promoting “Selma,” Oprah made a statement to People about leadership with the protests that are happening around the nation against police brutality and the killing of unarmed black men:

Oprah Winfrey has been watching the protests in Ferguson and New York like everyone else.

“I think it’s wonderful to march and to protest and it’s wonderful to see all across the country, people doing it,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively.

But it’s not enough to march, says Winfrey.

“What I’m looking for is some kind of leadership to come out of this to say, ‘This is what we want. This is what has to change, and these are the steps that we need to take to make these changes, and this is what we’re willing to do to get it.’ “

Protesters are not happy. They feel as if Oprah has disrespected those who have risen to be leaders throughout this movement.

I know this is just one person, however, he articulates how many are feeling about Oprah’s comments.

Here’s more.

I completely understand his position, as well as the position of other protesters and those who have emerged as leaders.  I empathize with them feeling disrespected, ignored, and being frustrated with Oprah’s words.  Furthermore, I get not really wanting to hear anything but words of support from those who aren’t on the ground, especially those who have resources like Oprah does.

But then there’s the other side. The movement that is taking place today is a new one.  It is a young one, a growing one.  Those who are leaders are under 30 years old (for the most part, I think). This young movement is connecting and appealing to those of use who are young.  And I am pretty sure any of them could tell you that A LOT can be attributed to Twitter.  Personally, that is how I get my information and how I keep up with everything. I then try to put it on here to keep people up to date, however, the movement is very fluid and is constantly changing and evolving.

Everybody doesn’t have Twitter. My parents are over 60 years old. Most of us who are connected to the current movement have parents who are around that age. While our struggle is something they dealt with as well, I think we all have to admit that it looked differently back then.  They had national leaders. That is how the movement looked back then. That is how things got done. National communication. And I believe that is what some are desiring now.

Does my mom know who those leaders are that are mentioned in the above tweets? No, she doesn’t. But if there were some on the national stage, no, not politicians….no, not rich individuals who are looking out for themselves, but leaders who have no other interest than to further the movement and connect EVERYBODY, no matter the age, then that would be helpful (in my opinion).

I am in complete awe of those leaders who have emerged during this movement. I feel nothing less than admiration toward them and am grateful for their efforts and sacrifice. And yes, I also desire a way to connect people to this movement who aren’t on Twitter. One who is sincere and unapologetically voices the desires of the people.  And that is not to say that this person or these people won’t emerge out of the leaders who are already leading! They deserve a national stage and resources to get the job done. Those leaders have put their lives on hold for this movement. They are to be acknowledged.

While I believe that Oprah should’ve given credit to those who ARE leading, I don’t find her comments to be those that were intended to slander and disrespect the current leaders. Poor choice of words? Absolutely. But disrespectful, harmful, divisive, etc.? I don’t see it that way. Yes, Oprah is rich. Yes, she has resources that most of us can only dream about. But she is also a 60 year old woman who grew up seeing the movement manifest itself in a completely different way (and she wasn’t always the billionaire that we see before us today). I don’t think we should hold that against her. Maybe she should be educated about what the leaders are doing. Maybe she needs to be more connected to what’s going on. I just don’t think that jumping all down her throat for these particular comments is helping anything either (I’m not necessarily talking about the above comments from Charles Wade).

Her saying that marches alone aren’t going to get the job done is accurate. And that is something that we all know. Protests, boycotts, making those who support police brutality and the injustice of the justice system feel a financial hit? That’s what has to happen. And it has to happen nationally. Not to put words in Oprah’s mouth, but I think THAT is what she was saying. She’s looking for mass organization. Again, not taking away from what has already been done, but just a desire to see MORE and on a BIGGER platform.

What do you all think? Are you offended by Oprah’s thoughts?

Updated: January 3, 2014 @ 2:20pm

Just wanted to come back and show this:

In other words, demands HAVE been made and articulated.

And this last tweet? I completely agree with it. The young leaders don’t have the platform and resources needed, but those of you who do, why not give them said platform?

Yes.

 

 

 

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. “relaxes” position of protesters wearing letters

It is no secret that Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. put out a statement telling protesters to not wear their letters while protesting (although wearing the colors were okay).

This directive was condemned by members and nonmembers alike, even with those who were on the front line in Ferguson speaking out against it. As a member, this was very sad for me to witness, and yes, I was disappointed.

It seems as if Alpha Kappa Alpha heard the outcry, and responded.

Today, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated has revised their guidelines and changed their stance on wearing letters while protesting. In a letter to members, the sorority’s National President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson stated the following:

“We expect our members to be actively involved in solving the social justice issues raised by those cases. The immediate response throughout the country has been to protest, march, and/or rally. We strongly support and encourage our members’ peaceful and lawful participation in these activities and as such, we issued guidelines for participation in these events.

We do not want to be distracted from our mission of fighting for justice and equality for Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Dontre Hamilton, and the countless other young black men across the country victimized by a criminal justice system that places little value in their lives. However, it appears the request to refrain from wearing the sorority’s letters has become a distraction and a distortion of the sorority’s position on these issues that is diverting attention and effort away from the broader fight to secure social justice and reform.

We are therefore relaxing our original position on the wearing of Alpha Kappa Alpha paraphernalia and attire.”

{source}

Shoutout to my soror for pointing this out to me!

And let me say this. Before any of you accuse me of leaking some sorority email meant for private members’ eyes only, please know that this was published on a very public magazine website, Ebony.com.

Don’t come for me.

Anyway.

Sometimes, family disappoints/hurts you. But then they recognize and acknowledge said disappointment and hurt, and work to make things right.

That’s what happened here.

And now, we move forward, for there is more work to be done.

John Legend and his wife, Chrissy Teigen, bought out food trucks to feed protesters + New Music: “Glory” – John Legend & Common

In case you missed it, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton expects the protests to kind of just die out.  Apparently, he thinks marching around “aimlessly” is going to get boring.

The morning after 10,000 people descended on Manhattan for to protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner, resulting in gridlock and more than 200 arrests, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the department’s strategy would remain the same.

“These things to tend to peter out on their own, people get tired of marching around aimlessly,” Mr. Bratton told the Observer when he stopped to talk with a group of reporters as he left City Hall. “And we’re gonna have a lot of rain tomorrow, and the history of these things is that they don’t go on forever, they tend to peter out on their own.”

{source}

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen apparently have a different idea. I absolutely love this.

Despite New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s prediction that public demonstrations over the Eric Garner and Ferguson Grand Jury decisions would “peter out,” the protests are still going strong thanks, in part, to a generous contribution from musician John Legend and his wife model and food bloggerChrissy Teigen. The couple purchased a fleet of food trucks to serve up free food to hungry protesters in New York’s Lincoln Square.

{source}

WORD.

This is what we need. People with resources to help and assist in a major way? YES.

Also, check out this new music, “Glory” – by John Legend feat. Common

This is beautiful.

And….heartbreaking.

MUCH respect to Mr. and Mrs. John Legend!

{featured image Michael Gobo/BFAnyc.com}