Sunday, November 28, 2021

Kerry Washington Slams Outdated Hollywood System That’s ‘Still Centering Whiteness’

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(Source: RICH POLK/Getty Images North America)

*Kerry Washington is hopeful that the Black Lives Matter protests over the police killing of George Floyd will lead to the meaningful changes in the entertainment industry. 

The actress was a guest on the first episode of the Hollywood: the Sequel podcast this week, where she spoke about the diversity crisis and how the Hollywood system is still “centering whiteness.”

“We have to be willing to look at ourselves, regardless of what industry we’re in,” she said, per PEOPLE. “We look at ourselves to get better and do better. 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.”

Continuing, “When we talk about inclusivity, there’s still an in and an out,” Washington continued. “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.”

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She also noted that “not much has changed for black people in the last couple of weeks,” amid protests over police brutality and race relations. 

“There’s a different response to it,” she said. “The sentiments of the moment that feel revelatory — I don’t feel like those feelings belong to me.”

Washington added, “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.”

As for what Hollywood can learn from this movement, “I think a more radical acceptance of anti-racist society, policies and culture,” Washington said. 

“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 explained. 

“Yes, all lives matter, but accepting to be in an anti-racist society, we affirm that Black lives matter. I think people are finally understand 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, she added. 

“Systems that are supposedly built for public safety — 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,” Washington said.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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