During an appearance on CNBC, musical talent Pharrell Williams criticized Independence Day for supposedly lacking in inclusivity and advocated for both reparations and for all employers to give employees June 19th, or Juneteenth, off as a paid holiday.
“As Americans we love, and we appreciate Independence Day, but when July 4, 1776, took place, the only ones that were free from the British monarchy were our white brothers,” Pharrell told host David Faber, on Monday.
“The white sisters could not vote the Native Americans where we get this land from,” he continued, “they were not free and certainly the African-Americans, women, and men, we didn’t have our freedom either. In fact, if everyone that is listening at home or watching at home just imagined a day or what it feels like to wake up in a world where you don’t own the land, the air, you don’t own anything everything comes from the express permission of your white brothers some of them.”
Williams said that Juneteenth, “for us,” “feel[s] like the day that we were freed, everyone was freed.”
“So why not make that a paid holiday? We deserve that, you know?” the “Happy” singer argued.
“There is a word that scares so many people, it is called reparations, and we deserve that, too,” he asserted.
“I think the first thing we should do is really, you know, we don’t want to take away the Independence Day that we have, we just also want a day that is inclusive of everyone,” Williams suggested.
“Our biggest issue as a nation is that we always feel like we know how to read the room, maybe because we own the room,” he added. “But perhaps we have forgotten who actually did the labor. So the action points here, talking to corporations and legislatures, and leaders around the world [are] making Juneteenth a paid holiday for employees in the United States. Then we would like a day to recognize the emancipation of enslaved people.”
The 47-year-old also admonished some employers for their “privilege” and “hubris,” responding to a question concerning business owners not giving Martin Luther King Day off as a paid holiday.
“Well, we have to face our hubris,” he said. “We have to face our privilege. And it is absolutely hubris and privilege for someone to not adhere to a state-regulated paid holiday.”
“For me, I would love to just say yeah, around the world, we have acknowledged the emancipation of enslaved people, but that is not enough,” added Williams. “Before you can get to that part, you have to start with your heart. You to start with your heart, and we have convenient blind spots in this nation, and we’re comfortable with being tone-deaf.”