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Accepting the Vanguard Award at the GLAAD Media Awards Saturday night for her work as an ally, Kerry Washington delivered a rousing speech encouraging all minorities to stand together and to fight until everyone, from any walk of life, has equal rights.
"On Monday morning, people are going to click a link to hear what that woman from Scandal said at that awards show, and so I think some stuff needs to be said," she said. As it turns out, she was only getting started.
"There are people in this world who have full rights and citizenship — in our communities, our countries — around the world. And then there are those of us who to varying degrees do not. We don't have equal access to education and healthcare, and some other basic liberties like marriage, a fair voting process, fair hiring practices. Now you would think that those kept from our full rights of citizenship would band together and fight the good fight. But history tells us that no, often we don't. Women, poor people, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, gay men, bisexuals, trans people, intersex people. We have been pitted against each other and made to feel there are limited seats at the table for those of us who fall into the category of 'other.'"
Washington's remarks are especially poignant following Patricia Arquette's statement at the Oscars (for which she was taken to task somewhat) claiming that, "It's time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we've all fought for to fight for us now."
"As a result, we've become afraid of one another," Washington continued. "We compete with one another, we judge one another. Sometimes, we betray one another. Sometimes even within our own communities we designate who among us is best suited to represent us and who really shouldn't even be invited to the party."
Washington encouraged more representation of LGBT people both in front of and behind the camera and further called for more diverse representation of those within the LGBT community.
"When black people today tell me that they don't believe in gay marriage… the first thing that I say is, 'Please don't let anybody try to get you to vote against your own best interest by feeding you messages of hate.' Then I say, 'You know people used to say stuff like that about you and your love.'"
Perhaps the most powerful statement of all is not Kerry Washington's words, but that the Emmy nominated star of a hit television show standing up and saying these things still feels so surprising in 2015. As she says herself, "Here is the great irony: I don't decide to play the characters I play as a big political choice, yet the characters I play often do become political statements. Because having your story told as a woman, as a person of color, as a lesbian, or as a trans person, or as any member of any disenfranchised community is sadly often still a radical idea."
Watch the full speech here: