Pharrell is launching a new MasterClass on racism, social justice

From the musician that showed us how to be “Happy” comes a new life lesson on empathy.

Pharrell Williams, in a partnership with MasterClass and Uninterrupted, released a six-minute mini MasterClass episode on the much more in-depth topics of empathy, racism and social justice. Williams, 47, tweeted the news on Nov. 11 and the full video is available now to stream on the Uninterrupted website.

The MasterClass deck is packed with over 90 classes teaching everything from how to be a great writer, to a potential course in curse words from Samuel L. Jackson. A monthly subscription costs $15, or $180 for a full year.

This is the first episode of five, and is part of a new series called “The Power You Hold.” The other four films will be released each week through Dec. 8 and feature Spike Lee, Ken Burns, Misty Copeland, RuPaul, Ron Finley and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The series will examine “issues of social injustice and systemic racism, offering education and inspiration on ways to impact change,” reads the banner on the Uninterrupted website.

Williams’ social-justice work didn’t start or end with this project. In 2019, the singer-songwriter showed off his entrepreneurial chops, and started his own music and cultural festival in his home town of Virginia Beach. The Something In The Water festival celebrated music and culture, and in Williams’ own words, “the North Star” of the festival is empathy.

The year prior to the debut of Pharrell’s festival, three shootings occurred in the same spot in Virginia Beach, Va., during Beach Week, where historically black colleges and university (HBCU) students frequent for spring break festivities. When his community reached out to Williams to see what could be done about “the locals,” he told them to “change the temperature of the racial tension” in his city, fraught with systemic racism, and give them a creative outlet.

“Empathy’s greatest potential is equality for all mankind. We’ve never seen that. We don’t know what that looks like. It’s never happened. Because equal means equal,” said Williams, ending his powerful class.

Speaking of a social-justice business focus, Williams also released a new song, “Entrepreneur,” in which he collaborated with Jay-Z to celebrate Black pioneers. The music video, which was released in August during the surge of the Black Lives Matter protests, featured Black celebrity entrepreneurs like Tyler, the Creator; Issa Rae and a moment of silence for the late Nipsey Hussle. The rest of the video was dedicated to sharing the stories of other Black business owners.

In addition to the five upcoming films, a new class from Issa Rae has been posted on the site, slated to go live in January 2021, and Williams is set to become an instructor with his own yet-to-be-announced class.

The rest of “The Power You Hold” series will be available on the Uninterrupted site and YouTube to stream for free, while the upcoming classes will be available to MasterClass subscribers in the coming months.

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