WHEN Michelle and Robert Sullivan were invited to be in a video for a song by music titans Pharrell Williams and Jay-Z showcasing Black entrepreneurs, they had two main concerns: profanity and if their farm in Scotland was camera-ready.
They initially wondered whether the Instagram invitation was genuine if the song’s message might clash with their strong Christian values, and if they should decline because they didn’t have enough time to tidy up the farm.
Now, having overcome their misgivings, the married couple in rural north-east Scotland feature in the video for the hip-hop track “Entrepreneur” which celebrates the achievements of Black business owners in the face of adversity.
“When we saw it, we were like, ‘This is really good’. We were really pleased with it,” said Michelle Sullivan, 46, who set up The Artisan Grower vegetable box delivery service with her husband several years ago.
“Since then it’s just gone crazy … Obviously the world’s really interested in this … It’s really inspired people of colour greatly.”
The Pharrell Williams song, featuring rapper Jay-Z, has already been viewed nearly 3 million times on YouTube since its release on Friday and has sparked fresh discussion on racial economic equality in the United States and worldwide.
The video features dozens of Black business owners from the United States and around the world, including a U.S. school founder, a Broadway star, a baker in Israel and the founders of an anime studio in Japan.
Williams, whose hits include “Happy” and “Frontin'”, said in a special issue of Time magazine which he curated – called “The New American Revolution” – that the song aimed to address “how tough it is to be an entrepreneur” in the United States.
“Especially as someone of color, there’s a lot of systemic disadvantages and purposeful blockages,” he said, citing inequalities in health care, education and representation.
Meanwhile, Michelle Sullivan said she had never knowingly encountered racial discrimination but saw common threads in the experiences of Black entrepreneurs around the world.
“I think it’s really sad actually that we even have to make videos like this to try to prove to the world that people of colour are valuable,” she said.
“For people of colour, we need to try to ignore the noise and just move forward with our plans the best way we can. And as we come across hurdles and things like that, we just push through.” – Thomson Reuters Foundation.