“[Louis] Farrakhan is not an anti-Semite. He loves all people.”
Those were the words spoken by Erykah Badu during a 2008 interview with the Israeli publication Haaretz, and at the time she received a lot of backlash for it, especially from the local press.
For decades now, Farrakhan has been accused by many of being anti-Semitic, and he’s been heavily denounced by the Jewish organization The Anti-Defamation League and others. However, much of the Black community has stood behind Farrakhan and the work he’s done through the Nation of Islam.
Recently, Badu was asked about that old interview during a recent conversation with Vulture, and she didn’t take back her words, nor her support for the religious leader.
“So I’d gone to Palestine and journalists asked me, ‘Do you believe in Louis Farrakhan? Do you follow him?’ Sure I do,” she explained. “I’ll follow anyone who has positive aspects. He single-handedly changed half of the Nation of Islam to clean eating, clean living, caring for their families.”
“He has flaws — like any man — but I’m not responsible for that,” Badu added. “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.”
Badu also said that she sees “something good in Adolph Hitler” and because he was once an innocent child, he deserves empathy, which of course made social media light up.
“I’m also okay with anything I had to say about Louis Farrakhan, but I’m not an anti-Semitic person,” she said. “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.”
“This is kinda nuts,” one Twitter user wrote in response. “I don’t know what to do or say about Erykah anymore.”
“Erykah Badu is literally always saying something ridiculous,” tweeted someone else. “And I can’t figure out why people didn’t stop paying attention to her completely when she said little girls need to wear longer skirts.”
But some came to the legendary soul singer’s defense and said there’s nothing wrong with her seeing good in everyone.
“Ya’ll are about to do the absolute most with this Erykah Badu interview when all she said is that she recognizes the humanity in everyone. She doesn’t throw anyone away because she recognizes that everyone has flaws,” wrote Twitter user Detroit East.
So far Badu hasn’t responded to the stir regarding her Farrakhan comments, and she hasn’t backtracked either, which is different from what Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison did when he was campaigning years ago.
When the now 54-year-old was a law student in the late ’80s, early ‘90s, he wrote columns for the school newspaper, the Minnesota Daily, where he supported Farrakhan and challenged those who called him anti-Semitic.
“I have long since distanced myself from and rejected the Nation of Islam due to its propagation of bigoted and anti-Semitic ideas and statements, as well as other issues,” he wrote when some of his old columns surfaced. “I have a deep and personal aversion to anti-Semitism regardless of its source, and I reject and condemn anti-Semitic statements and actions of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan and Khalid Muhammad.”
At this point, concerning Badu, it’s hard to gauge how much backlash she’ll receive for her recent interview, especially because she said something positive about Bill Cosby amid his legal issues and sexual assault allegations.
“I love Bill Cosby, and I love what he’s done for the world,” she said. “But if he’s sick why would I be angry with him? The people who got hurt, I feel so bad for them. I want them to feel better too. But sick people do evil things; hurt people hurt people. I know I could be crucified for saying that because I’m supposed to be on the purple team or the green team. I’m not trying to rebel against what everybody’s saying, but maybe I want to measure it.”
You can see some of the reactions to Badu’s interview below.
Read that entire vulture interview twice and I just… LORDT.
Erykah Badu told a JEWISH JOURNALIST she saw good in Hitler. pic.twitter.com/T3U7CBVt1L
— Slum Beautiful (@TheJazzyBelle) January 24, 2018
The Erykah Badu interview in Vulture is problematic to say the least. If you're going to operate without professional PR, you need to have enough discipline to resist volunteering any opinion on Hitler.
— Clayton Rainey (@runningfool75) January 24, 2018
Ya choose a different person to demonize every week. This week it’s Erykah Badu. Why don’t we take time to understand other people’s perspectives before jumping on the cancel culture bandwagon.
— Kiera (@kierajrz) January 24, 2018
The problem ppl are having with Erykah Badu right now is simply because ppl can't think for themselves. She said she can see the good in everybody, even the most disturbed. This isn't a catastrophic comment, everybody has some good quality, characteristic or skill of some kind.
— Culture 1st (@SavoringCulture) January 24, 2018
Erykah Badu, like most "woke" celebs, are only reliable for an interesting aesthetic, with an undercurrent of gross personal politics they refuse to examine critically.
— The future is here. (@GhostofWutang) January 24, 2018