Erykah Badu is receiving backlash after an interview where she claimed to see the good in everyone, including Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The “Didn’t Cha Know” singer took to Twitter to address the controversy, admitting she used a horrible example to prove her point. She also believes the media, in general, spun the story to make it sound worse than it was.
See her response below.
People are in real pain. So I understand why my ‘good’ intent was misconstrued as ‘bad’. In trying to express a point, I used 1 of the worst examples possible, Not to support the cruel actions of an unwell, psychopathic Adolf Hitler, but to only exaggerate a show of compassion.
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) January 25, 2018
The media is banking on our ignorance. Know we won’t read the whole thing. They’ll use controversial quotes w/trigger words as Click Bait. We❤️controversy. So Blogs choose easiest thing to “spin”. Get you mad. Help you get a little rage out. They get more adds.The message lost.
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) January 24, 2018
ORIGINAL STORY: 1/24/2018
Erykah Badu’s opinions rarely line up with traditional thinking, a point she proved once again during an interview with Vulture, where she and journalist David Marchese had an unexpected debate over the generally despised leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler.
Marchese asked the Dallas songstress about the backlash she received in the Israeli press nearly a decade ago after being accused of anti-Semitism because of her support of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
The question led to an interesting exchange between the two.
Badu: [Farrakhan] has flaws — like any man — but I’m not responsible for that. I said I’ve appreciated what he’s done for a lot of Black Americans. I mean, I’m not Muslim, I’m not Christian, I’m not anything; I’m an observer who can see good things and bad things. If you say something good about someone, people think it means that you’ve chosen a side. But I don’t choose sides. I see all sides simultaneously.
Marchese: That’s not something most of us are good at.
Badu: We’re not, and I’m okay with that. I’m also okay with anything I had to say about Louis Farrakhan. But I’m not an anti-Semitic person. I don’t even know what anti-Semitic was before I was called it. I’m a humanist. I see good in everybody. I saw something good in Hitler.
Marchese: Come again?
Badu: Yeah, I did. Hitler was a wonderful painter.
Marchese: No, he wasn’t! And even if he was, what would his skill as a painter have to do with any “good” in him?
Badu: Okay, he was a terrible painter. Poor thing. He had a terrible childhood. That means that when I’m looking at my daughter, Mars Badu’s daughter with enigmatic rapper Jay Electronica. She also has another daughter, Puma, with the West Coast rapper the D.O.C., I could imagine her being in someone else’s home and being treated so poorly, and what that could spawn. I see things like that. I guess it’s just the Pisces in me.
Marchese: I’m perfectly willing to accept that you might be operating on a higher moral plane than I am, but I think going down the route of “Hitler was a child once too” is maybe turning the idea of empathy into an empty abstraction.
Badu: Maybe so. It doesn’t test my limits — I can see this clearly. I don’t care if the whole group says something, I’m going to be honest. I know I don’t have the most popular opinion sometimes.
Marchese: But don’t you think that someone as evil as Hitler, who did what he did, has forfeited the right to other people’s empathy?
Badu: Why can’t I say what I’m saying? Because he did such terrible things?
Marchese: Well, yes. But it’s also disheartening to hear you say that at a time, like now, when racism and anti-Semitism are so much in the air. Why would you want to risk putting fuel on that fire?
Badu: You asked me a question. I could’ve chosen not to answer. I don’t walk around thinking about Hitler or Louis Farrakhan. But I understand what you’re saying: “Why would you want to risk fueling hateful thinking?” I have a platform, and I would never want to hurt people. I would never do that. I would never even imagine doing that. I would never even want a group of White men who believe that the Confederate flag is worth saving to feel bad. That’s not how I operate.
For the full conversation, check out Vulture.
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.