Keke Palmer says that President Donald Trump is “inciting a race war” as people across the country are joining the fight against racial injustice, claiming even that the president’s “craziness” is what brought so many people to the cause.
“I think President Trump plays into it too. He’s inciting a race war. His craziness is inspiring us to just really get him the f*** out!” the 26-year-old told Cosmopolitan for its “Jaugust” cover. “It’s like we needed somebody who riled us up so much for us to be activated to the point of saying, ‘Oh, hell no. I can’t let this guy continue. I have to do something. I have to find a way to let my voice be heard and to let people know that I’m not with this.’”
Although the actress, singer and co-host of ABC’s Strahan, Sara & Keke hasn’t been known for getting political in the past, Palmer went on to say that the current movement for racial equality seems different in the way that it’s seemingly impossible not to speak out. Palmer pairs people’s urgency to change the country’s leadership with the helplessness many felt during the coronavirus pandemic as reasons for the heightened awareness and influence of the Black Lives Matter movement. For her, however, it was her own experiences with racism that made it easier to answer the call to action.
“It’s so powerful for me because I’ve been through it. I know what it feels like to be hated for your skin. It’s so silly and it’s so stupid, but it’s so cruel,” she said. “I know what it feels like when somebody is racist toward you, and you literally go to a sunken place, you can’t speak. It’s so hard to explain if you’ve never felt it, but I know you have. It hurts. And we get so strong that sometimes it’s like we don’t even realize it, because we’ve been carrying the weight of it for so long.”
Palmer explained that when she entered the industry 15 years ago, the weight of her life experiences only grew heavier as she learned that her platform would come with more responsibility simply because she is Black.
“I’m an entertainer. I was taught at a very young age that because I’m Black, that’s not enough. I can’t just entertain without thinking about what it means to my community,” she explained. “I know I have a platform, but at the end of the day, I’m not the political person that lives and breathes this day in, day out or an activist that lives and breathes this day in, day out. I don’t have all the answers, I just speak to what I believe in. Let’s speak our voice. Let’s not let up.”
When using her voice to speak directly to a group of National Guardsman during a protest in Hollywood on June 2, asking the men to join the peaceful protest, Palmer was praised for her powerful words and her ability to bring people together during a divisive time.
“When we start to approach [the soldiers], I’m literally just thinking aloud, ‘Why are they not with us?’” Palmer recalled. “Honestly, for me, it went back—I’m sorry, I’m getting emotional because it reminds me of my niece. When I look at her and she asks me such simple questions like, ‘Why is the sky blue? Why are there clouds? Where do planets come from?’ that’s what it felt like: ‘Why are they not with us?’ I really, honestly wanted to know why.”
Although she wasn’t able to get the men to march alongside the protestors, Palmer calls her experience as part of the protest “so euphoric.”
“I just felt so united with everybody. It wasn’t no celebrity-type s***, you know what I mean? I’ve never felt like that before,” she said. “If I sit and think about everything that’s happened in this country, I wouldn’t get out of f***ing bed in the morning. So for us to have that moment of just helping each other heal, just standing by each other, marching and saying, ‘No justice, no peace.’ That’s so powerful.”
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