It’s no secret that Hollywood caters to white stories. Kerry Washington discussed the entertainment industry’s infamous diversity problem in a new episode of Hollywood: The Sequel, a podcast from culture website LAist.
“We look at ourselves to get better and do better,” the Little Fires Everywhere star said when asked about what she hopes will come out of the current movement, per People. “When we say we’re committed to diversity—it’s diverse from what? We’re still centering whiteness as the most important thing and inviting diversity around that. Or when we talk about inclusivity, there’s still an in and an out. So, we’re still centering certain kinds of people and maybe in tiny fractions allowing other people to the table. There’s just so much of it that needs to reexamined. The simple answer is … I hope a lot of good [comes out of it] and that we can see each other, and have courage to make room for each other.”
She added that although many are beginning to be awakened to the realities of systemic racism, it’s not news for others. “Not much has changed for Black people in the last couple of weeks,” she said. “There’s a different response to it. The sentiments of the moment that feel revelatory—I don’t feel like those feelings belong to me.”
She continued, “This is not a moment of revelation, but I’m watching the revelation around me for people, and I’m grateful that the world is showing up for black lives in a different way, but this is what has been the reality—this level of danger and anger and fear. Maybe trauma and lack of safety—this has been the reality of Black Americans since there were Black Americans.”
Though the movement’s outrage is not necessarily a new feeling for her, Washington said that the movement “feels for me like something is different. We have to be willing to look at ourselves, regardless of what industry we’re in.”
She elaborated, explaining that passivity is no longer tolerable in the current climate. “I think what people are realizing is that it’s not enough to just not be racist—that because our institution were built in the fabric of racism, because our country was born with Black Americans being designated a fraction of a human being—it’s not enough to just not be racist, we have to be actively antiracist and for that desire to come from a deep understanding that we all deserve full rights of humanity,” she said.
“Yes, all lives matter, but accepting to be in an anti-racist society, we affirm that Black lives matter. I think people are finally understanding that and our institutions need to understand that—not just interpersonal relationships. It’s important we’re having these conversations at our dinner tables, in our class rooms and in our highest systems of government. Systems that are supposedly built for public safety,” she continued.
“We have to ask ourselves who we deem the public and who we deem the enemy. I’m hoping that all of this new revelatory reflection lends itself to transformation not just of hearts and minds, but also institutional practices.”
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