People are in an uproar over the actions of Erykah Badu, but if you have at all followed her career you know it’s not the first time.
The singer has been catching heat on social media for comments she made in an interview with Vulture published Wednesday.
In it, writer David Marchese asked her about some research he had dug up in which the Israeli press linked Badu to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan “and his alleged anti-Semitism.”
“I don’t know if those reports were accurate, but isn’t it valid to criticize the hurtful idea in an instance like that,” Marchese asked the singer. “Even if you respect the person who holds that idea?”
Badu said she had traveled to Palestine during a time when the working title of one of her albums was “Saviours’ Day,” which is both her birthday and a Nation of Islam holiday.
“So I’d gone to Palestine and journalists asked me, ‘Do you believe in Louis Farrakhan? Do you follow him?’ Sure I do,” she said. “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.”
That led to her saying she sees “good in everybody,” adding “I saw something good in Hitler.”
“Hitler was a wonderful painter,” she said.
She backed off of that when Marchese challenged that statement.
“OK, he was a terrible painter,” Badu said. “Poor thing. He had a terrible childhood.”
Badu said in the same interview that she was hesitant to pass judgment on Bill Cosby, who faces multiple allegations of sexual misconduct (“Because I love Bill Cosby, and I love what he’s done for the world. But if he’s sick, why would I be angry with him?”) before adding that she also feels bad for his alleged victims.
Cosby has denied the allegations.
Marchese floated the idea that perhaps “going down the route of ‘Hitler was a child once too’ is maybe turning the idea of empathy into an empty abstraction.”
“I don’t care if the whole group says something, I’m going to be honest,” Badu said. “I know I don’t have the most popular opinion sometimes.”
That’s putting it mildly.
Here are just a few examples of other times Badu has stirred controversy:
‘Window Seat’ to history
In 2010, Badu filmed a video for her single “Window Seat” in Dallas.
The video featured her stripping as she strolled to Dealey Plaza, where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
Badu ends up nude and falls, as if shot, as visitors, including some children, look on.
The singer said at the time the video was filmed “guerrilla style,” with no crew and in one take.
Singing for Swaziland
Badu was slammed by human rights activists after she performed at a birthday party for Swaziland King Mswati III, who had been declared a dictator by Amnesty International.
Badu said she had no idea of the political climate of the country when she agreed to sing “Happy Birthday.”
She reportedly told the Dallas Morning News she had done it as a favor for a friend and donated the money she earned to the servants working in the house where she stayed.
Girls in short skirts
After a high school in New Zealand told female students in 2016 that they would have to lengthen their skirts, Badu sent a series of tweets voicing her agreement that had some accusing her of blaming women for being targets of sexual assault.
“Young girls are attractive,” she tweeted. “Some males are distracted.”
She also tweeted, “Men and women both go thru cycles of arousal. Men automatically are attracted to women of child bearing age….”
“I want my daughters to understand this,” she wrote. “I want them to be themselves and wear what they like, yet be aware. Not ignore our differences…”
On Thursday, Badu responded to her latest controversy by tweeting, “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,” she said. “Not to support the cruel actions of an unwell, psychopathic Adolf Hitler, but to only exaggerate a show of compassion.”