Kerry Washington believes that society should be more aware of the “language” used surrounding the topics of inclusivity and diversity.
During an appearance on the first episode of the “Hollywood, The Sequel” NPR podcast with host John Horn, Washington spoke candidly about the entertainment industry in the wakes of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
Their tragic deaths, along with many others, have triggered an uprising in protests as communities all over the nation demand equality, justice, and the end of senseless killings of unarmed Black men, women, and children by police and whites.
Washington spoke on the issue surrounding words like diversity. “When we say that we’re committed to diversity, it’s diverse from what? We’re still centering whiteness as the most important thing and allowing or inventing diversity around that,” the “Scandal” actress explained during the June 23 episode.
She continued, “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.”
Washington admits that while she is proud to be a part of a medium where essentially dreams and ideologies come true, she’s also pleased to be a part of a collective that is working on shifting institutional practices that don’t always tend to work in everyone’s favor.
When asked in what ways could Hollywood set a better example, the “American Son” star said that it isn’t enough for Hollywood just to simply say that they’re not racist, but they must actively act on that mindset to be an agent of change.
“I think a more radical acceptance of anti-racist society, policies, and culture,” Washington explained. “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, it’s not enough to just not be racist. We have to be actively anti-racist and for that desire to come from a deep understanding that we all deserve full rights of humanity.”
Washington also admitted that despite the uptick in protests, “not much has changed for Black people in the last couple of weeks.”
“The sentiments of the moment that feel revelatory — I don’t feel like those feelings belong to me,” Washington revealed. “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.”
But until the day comes where society witnesses a rebuilding of the broken systems in place, Washington hopes that “a lot of good [comes out of these conversations] and that we can see each other and have courage to make room for each other.”