In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has had to grapple with another sickness this year: racism. The police killings of unarmed Black people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have forced Americans to confront the ugly truths of racism in everyday life in America.
Celebrities and public figures have been using their platform to highlight the injustices that have been happening. Many have also taken this opportunity to be open and honest about how racism has affected them personally, even though one might assume that their privilege and power would shield them from any mistreatment. Kerry Washington has been one of the most outspoken celebrities.
Kerry Washington always uses her platform for good
Many people want actors and people in Hollywood to keep their mouth shut when it comes to political or social issues, and that they should just stick to entertaining. Not Kerry Washington.
In a recent appearance on Jemele Hill’s podcast Jemele Hill is Unbothered, Washington discussed why she’s always used her platform to encourage Americans to get involved with their democracy.
“As my career kinda started to take off, I made the commitment to myself to not quiet myself because I now have this platform — to not quiet myself to say, ‘Well now I’m an actor, I don’t want to say anything that makes somebody not like me,’” Washington said. “Nobody should be silenced because of their job.”
She goes on to explain that even though the world knows her as a “Hollywood elite,” she uses her platform because she speaks from her experience as a Black woman who grew up across the street from the projects in the Bronx and was saddled with student debt for years.
Kerry Washington is ‘still scared’ to play outside with her kids
Kerry Washington confesses to Jemele Hill that even though she’s a public figure and an outspoken advocate for equality and justice, she still worries that she and her children aren’t completely safe anywhere.
“No matter what I do, no matter how many Emmy nominations, I am still scared at times to scooter in neighborhoods with my kids where I feel like somebody could call the cops,” Washington said frankly. “Because that cop may never have seen Scandal. I still have that very real fear.”
Kerry Washington talks to her kids about racism and injustice
Black parents are familiar with giving their children “the talk” — not the birds and the bees, but a serious talk about how they move through the world (and more importantly, how others will view them) because they’re Black. Kerry Washington talks about this very honestly with her kids Isabelle and Caleb.
Washington stopped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show to discuss what kinds of conversations she’s been having with her kids. Since they’ve been doing school at home because of the pandemic, Washington has been immersing them in studies that they don’t get in the (virtual) classroom, such as African history and cultures.
Ellen’s DJ tWitch, who’s a father himself, asked Washington how she’s been having conversations with her children about the injustices that have been happening. “I think a lot of us remember the moment in our own childhoods when we were first confronted with negative views about race, with racism, with institutionalized racism. I remember as a kid learning those things,” Washington recalls. “So I want my kids to know that I’m fully present as they’re exploring those ideas too.”
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