Rihanna may not have given us an album in years, but she’s consistently given us words on activism, equality, and injustice. Her streak continued at the 51st NAACP Image Awards, when she used her acceptance speech for the President’s Award to deliver a timely message to activists, allies, and those out there who may think Black issues aren’t their issues too.
“If there’s anything that I’ve learned is that we can only fix this world together. We can’t do it divided. I cannot emphasize that enough,” she said. “We can’t let the de-sensitivity seep in. The ‘If it’s your problem, then it’s not mine; it’s a woman’s problem; it’s a black people problem; it’s a poor people problem.’”
It’s unfortunate that this even needs to be said in 2020, but alas, here we are.
The next part of Rihanna’s speech required a little bit of audience participation. Other celebs in attendance listening closely included Tracee Ellis Ross, Lizzo, and Michael B. Jordan.
“How many of us in this room have colleagues, partners, friends from other races, sexes, religions? Show of hands,” Rihanna asked, as audience members obliged with her request. “You know, they wanna break bread with you, right? They like you? Well then, this is their problem too. So when we’re watching marching and protesting and posting about the Michael Brown, Jrs. and Atatiana Jeffersons of the world, tell your friends to pull up.”
Rihanna was honoured at the Image Awards for her career and “distinguished public service,” which includes her Clara Lionel Foundation, which “engages in global advocacy with the goal of improving the quality of life for young people everywhere.” So, I guess we can forgive her for the album delay just this one time.
Watch her acceptance speech in full below.