Janelle Monáe Calls For Action to End Systemic Racism: "I'm Not Settling For Lip Service"
Janelle Monáe is demanding change in the form of action. During a roundtable discussion for The Hollywood Reporter, the actress and singer opened up about the steps she believes are necessary to enact long-term societal change and how she's been reacting to the ongoing conversations about race in the US. "For me, I'm trying to figure out how to channel my anger. That's my emotion," she said. "One of the things that I learned about me is that I'm not settling for those who say that they're allies. I'm not settling for lip service. If you want to show me that you're an ally, it's going to have to be rooted in acts of service." Janelle then called upon her white friends and those who support her to initiate tough conversations around white supremacy and slavery to bring the Black Lives Matter movement one step closer to dismantling systemic racism.
"I want to see more scripts where you're writing for the human, you're not pushing me to be a stereotype of what you think Blackness is."
Janelle points out that, while many are using this time to check their perspectives, reflection isn't a privilege everyone has as they navigate the multiple pandemics currently afflicting society. "For me and my people, for the Black community, this is not an exciting time," she said. "This isn't a time that we get to really reflect. We're dealing with a lot of trauma . . . Black people make up the essential workers who are making sure that we have our packages and our food, and this is not a time for them to reflect in the ways that we, as artists, have the privilege to do. So, I'm checking my privilege and I'm also mourning with my people."
Janelle added that she hopes to see more roles open up in the acting world that allow her to see herself accurately represented as a Black person on screen. "I want to see more scripts where you're writing for the human, you're not pushing me to be a stereotype of what you think Blackness is," she said. Noting her role on the Amazon Prime series Homecoming as an example of progress, Janelle says she hopes to have the freedom to break boundaries and explore different genres in both her music and future acting roles.
In order to transform systemic change from an idea into a reality off screen, Janelle noted that action must be taken to hire more Black people in executive positions and to denormalize the abuse of authority that so many police officers have taken advantage of. She also added that she is a strong supporter of the movement to defund the police and seeks to redistribute that money toward society's educational and healthcare systems. "This is a moment for Black people to stand our ground and ask more of our systems," Janelle said. "Because it can't just be, 'We're going to march with you and do a hashtag.' It has to be rooted in justice, as well."