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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….

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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.

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.

Derrick Rose’s statement on showing solidarity with protesters

In case you missed it, Derrick Rose wore a powerful message while warming up before the game this past Saturday evening.  However, at least one reporter wondered if he really understands what he’s doing.

Also, CBS Chicago noted that there were questions that (apparently) needed to be asked and answered:

There was no reasoning given for Rose not talking to the media Saturday. He was gone when reporters entered the locker room. His postgame availability is often hit or miss, and we’ve no idea whether he left without talking out of routine or consciously looked to avoid questions. For all we know, he could’ve had a personal matter to tend to.

To have worn the shirt, though, Rose had to have known there’d be questions that followed. We’re not owed anything, but we’re undoubtedly curious. This was the real Derrick Rose, and we want to know the real Derrick Rose.

What about this case moved Rose to take a stand?

Why now, when there have been past opportunities to share a stance?

How did the idea to wear the T-shirt come about and who had input?

How does Rose feel he can make a difference?

Is this a sign of a more independent Rose, a man who speaks for himself after years of voices whispering in his ear?

For now, all we know is that Rose told Bulls big man and team leader Joakim Noah prior to the game he was wearing the T-shirt and that Rose has the support of two important figures in the locker room – Noah and Taj Gibson.

“He has every right to express his beliefs … I respect Derrick a lot,” Noah said. “He’s definitely making a statement by wearing it. That’s my guy.”

Added Gibson: “I thought it was great. I thought it was him speaking him mind. It’s a good thing for a positive movement.”

Well fear not, everybody. Derrick Rose is very well aware of what he’s doing, and is able to articulate exactly the “why” behind him wearing the shirt.

Here’s his statement (via Twitter):

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While I feel some sort of way about the fact that there was a necessity for D-Rose to “explain” himself, I’m also very happy that he was able to.

In my opinion, however, the message on his shirt explains all.

{featured image via Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports}

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}