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Kerry Washington Talks Diversity Issues In Hollywood: "We're Still Centering Whiteness"

Kerry Washington Opens Up About Diversity Issues In Hollywood: "We're Still Centering Whiteness"
June 24, 2020 - 01:51 / Hayley Paskevich

In a new podcast interview, Kerry Washington shared her thoughts on the future of the entertainment industry! Here's what she says needs to be done to bring about real change!

Kerry Washington is glad that Hollywood is making an effort to become more diverse, but she feels that people within the industry need to take meaningful action! 

As People reports, Washington was a recent guest on the Hollywood The Sequel podcast, where she talked about the industry in relation to the Black Lives Matter Movement.

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Kerry Washington attends the 2020 Sundance Film Festival - "Sylvie's Love" Premiere at Eccles Center Theatre on January 27, 2020

Washington says industry is "still centering certain kinds of people"

Washington said that while she's hopeful for what the future of the film and television industry will look like following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, she feels that a significant amount of work needs to be done first.

"We look at ourselves to get better and do better," Washington commented while talking about We See You, White American Theater, a newly created organization calling out racism in the arts. "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."

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Washington then went on to explain another way that she feels the language surrounding diversity needs to change. "Or when we talk about inclusivity, there's still an in and an out," she said. "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."

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Kerry Washington attends the 71st Emmy Awards on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California

Washington says Black Lives Matter "is not a moment of revelation"

Washington then addressed the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement specifically. As People mentions, Washington shared during the interview how she feels "not much has changed for black people in the last couple of weeks."

"There's a different response to it," Washington said. "The sentiments of the moment that feel revelatory — I don't feel like those feelings belong to me. 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."

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"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." 

However, Washington also said it seems like there has been a shift. "It feels for me like something is different. We have to be willing to look at ourselves, regardless of what industry we're in."

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Kerry Washington

Washington feels that Hollywood needs "a more radical acceptance"

Washington further expanded upon her thoughts on what she thinks Hollywood needs to do in order to become better when it comes to diversity in the future. "I think a more radical acceptance of anti-racist society, policies and culture," Washington said on the podcast.

"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."  

That's why Washington says people need to do the work and take a stand against racism. "It's not enough to just not be racist, we have to be actively antiracist," Washington explained, "and for that desire to come from a deep understanding that we all deserve full rights of humanity."

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Washington says that racism needs to be discussed with institutions

Washington then went on to talk about the importance of discussing the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement in all spheres of life. "Yes, all lives matter, but accepting to be in an anti-racist society, we affirm that Black lives matter," she said on Hollywood the Sequel.

"I think people are finally understand that and our institutions need to understand that — not just interpersonal relationships," Washington explained. "It's important we're having these conversations at our dinner tables, in our class rooms and in our highest systems of government."

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"Systems that are supposedly built for public safety — We have to ask ourselves who we deem the public and who we deem the enemy," she continued. I'm hoping that all of this new revelatory reflection lends itself to transformation not just of hearts and minds, but also institutional practices."