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Black celebs who deny racism exists are out of touch

Pharrell Williams was the first entertainer I heard use the term “new black.” He toldOprah Winfrey, “The ‘new black’ doesn’t blame other races for our issues.”

Raven-Symone defended the Univision host who was fired after comments about the first lady. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)
Raven-Symone defended the Univision host who was fired after comments about the first lady. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)Read more

THE "NEW BLACK" line of thinking about racism is wack.

I'm referring to recent comments by certain African-American celebrities - Pharrell Williams, Raven-Symone, Kanye West and the rapper A$AP Ferg among others - who claim racism is over and say black people need to forget the past.

It's become a thing lately. Even Common has joined the fray, giving the one-sided suggestion that if blacks would love more, racism would disappear. That's all well and good for Common, who just won an Oscar for the song "Glory" in "Selma." He's a hunky, multimillionaire rapper/actor who has dated the likes of "Empire" star Taraji P. Henson. But what about everybody else?

And don't let me get started with Raven-Symone's recent defense of an ousted Univision host who likened first lady Michelle Obama to a character from "Planet of the Apes."

Really, Raven?

These celebs need to stop or else get intensive media coaching about how to deal with the tricky subject of race relations in America.

Pharrell kicked off the foolishness last year when he announced during an Oprah Winfrey interview, "The 'new black' doesn't blame other races for our issues."

"The 'new black' dreams and realizes that it's not a pigmentation; it's a mentality," he said.

Common raised eyebrows even among die-hard fans when he told Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show": "If we've been bullied, we've been beat down, but we don't want it anymore. We are not extending a fist and we are not saying, 'You did us wrong.' It's more like, 'Hey, I'm extending my hand in love.'

"Let's forget about the past as much as we can and let's move from where we are now," he added.

"Me as a black man, I'm not sitting there like, 'Hey, white people, y'all did us wrong.' We know that that existed," Common said. "I don't even have to keep bringing that up. It's like being in a relationship and continuing to bring up the person's issues. Now I'm saying, 'Hey, I love you. Let's move past this. Come on, baby, let's get past this.' "

He has a point. I don't think people should walk around carrying grudges, either. But the reality is that racial inequities in America are systemic and can't just be kumbaya'd away - no matter what Common says.

Social-media reaction has been brutal. A popular hashtag on Twitter right now is the uber-sarcastic #blackcelebsbelike. Twitter users are posting statements such as, "I won an Oscar, so racism no longer exists. It's time to love our enemies who feed and cloth us. #blackcelebsbelike."

And then there's, "#blackcelebsbelike 'let me borrow your #blacklivesmatter sign for a week to help promote my movie.' "

The entertainers brought the hateration on themselves.

"What we have here is privileged artists who are not really that well-learned when it comes to race relations," explained Chad Dion Lassiter, president of Black Men at Penn.

"They're on the capitalistic auction block selling out their people with these narratives that do more harm than any good," he added.

Lassiter pointed to several controversial, high-profile deaths of African-American men at the hands of law enforcement and added: "It tends to whitewash the tragedies that have occurred when Common says what he says. Where's your analysis when it comes to Michael Brown? When it comes to Eric Garner? When it comes to Brandon Tate-Brown?"

Chuck Williams, director of graduate studies at Lincoln University, agreed, saying of the celebrities: "Now that they've crossed over, they are saying, 'Being black doesn't matter.' Are they kidding me?"

"This is like textbook. 'Race doesn't matter. I'm not black. I'm just American,' " Williams added. "Does society just see you like that? They are feeling themselves."

Kanye West is infamous for some of the views he's spouted about race over the years. Most recently, while in Paris, he told Clique TV, "Racism is a dated concept."

But the most ignorant offender has to be rapper A$AP Ferg, who during a recent sit-down with National Public Radio declared racial prejudice dead.

"There's no racism with the Internet. Racism only was - is probably like five generations ago. Racism been over," Ferg told an interviewer.

"It's the old people that keep on holding on to it. We don't hold on to that s---," he said. "We don't know racism. We all like having - like my little brother had white girlfriends. And that's regular."

I had to take a breather after reading that.

The level of disconnect between certain celebrities and reality is startling.

"I believe that when people of color make it to a certain existence, I think they honestly don't experience the same level of racist behavior because of their money," pointed out Antoine Johnson, president of House of Talent. "So their vision is not of that a 'normal' or common black person."

Yeah, but what happens when Ferg drives someplace late one night and he gets pulled over by the wrong police officer? Will he still be convinced that racism is a thing of the past?

"At some point, the 'new black' is going to be reminded of the old Jim Crow," Lassiter said. "There will eventually be a wake-up call. Because a black apologist always gets a wake-up call."