By Hayden Wright
Last night, VH1’s Hip Hop Honors bestowed the Game Changer Award on Pharrell Williams and he used the moment to issue a warning about injustice. Pharrell urged people to “open their eyes” and resist participating in the politics of destruction and division. The speech indirectly evoked myriad social issues like police brutality, immigration crackdowns and other controversial objectives of the present administration.
“So for everybody… everybody at home right now watching this and acting like ya’ll don’t see what’s going on out there, you gotta open your eyes,” Pharrell said. “Open your eyes. You keep saying you don’t see what’s going on on television—what’s happening to us—open your eyes. And if you look like I look, then you know how we got here. But we’re here, and we’re not leaving. So what are we gonna do? And for everybody else in this country, the human condition is important. Don’t think because they’re coming at the African-Americans and the Jewish community and the Hispanics that it can’t be you too just because you look like them. They’re using you.”
Pharrell added that those arbitrary lines in the sand can change at any given time.
“You should understand ’they’ can change their minds and it might not be about Black, white, big, skinny or small,” he said. “It could be about facial features. It might be about hair color. Don’t act like they didn’t do that before.”
Finally, the musician and producer connected this political moment to his own experience in America.
“This is where we are right now. Me, I’m just a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, little musician. Like little small, tiny musician, but I’m African American,” he said. “African means that’s what in me, American means that’s where I am right now. So if this is where I am and this is America, it’s for liberty and justice for all.”
Watch Pharrell’s thought-provoking speech, which contains explicit language, now at Radio.com.