Pharrell Williams Writes Essay On Racism In America As Part Of Series On Revolution

Pharrell Williams brought his talents to a new Time magazine project called “The New American Revolution,” writing a powerful essay on America’s relationship with racism and curating companion pieces with Black trailblazers.

The 47-year-old music mogul worked with the publication to commission a comprehensive series of conversations and essays from the likes of Yara Shahidi, Tyler the Creator, Kenya Barris, Angela Davis, Imara Jones, and Naomi Osaka.

“In assembling this project, I asked some of the most qualified people I know in every field — from Angela Davis to Tyler, the Creator, to Representative Barbara Lee — to talk with us, and with one another, about the way forward. I wanted to convey a vision of a future filled with the artists, creators and entrepreneurs who can fulfill the promise of this country’s principles,” Williams wrote in his essay titled, “America’s Past and Present Are Racist. We Deserve a Black Future.

He talks about being born in Virginia Beach, “the rugged spot jutting out from America’s mainland that birthed this nation” and how he feels he is “both the promise of America and a product of its shameful past.” The “Happy” singer interrogates what can be done in a country where Black Americans have seen so much hurt at the hands of colonizers, police officers, and so many others.

“Amid so much injury, how do we begin to heal?” Williams asks. “Given this country’s inescapable legacy, I wondered if it was even possible to convince people that — even if we cannot escape it — we can overcome our past.”

Williams stresses that the “only way to guarantee life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is to ensure “that every citizen has the same opportunity to succeed and flourish — regardless of class, gender or skin color.” 

“America’s wealth was built on the slave labor of Black people: this is our past. To live up to America’s ideals, we must trust in a Black vision of the future,” he concludes.

Elsewhere in the project, Williams announced that he and Jay-Z will release a new song on Friday called “Entrepreneur.”

“The intention for a song was all about how tough it is to be an entrepreneur in our country to begin with,” Williams told Time. “Especially as someone of color, there’s a lot of systemic disadvantages and purposeful blockages. How can you get a fire started, or even the hope of an ember to start a fire, when you’re starting at disadvantages with regards to health care, education, and representation?”

You can take a look at the entirety of Williams’ Time project here.