Issa Rae On Speaking Out Against Racial Injustice While Working In Hollywood: 'I Have A Voice And I Wish Somebody Would Try'
The actress urged white people to speak to each other about systemic racism instead of relying on Black people to do it.
March 10, 2021 at 5:24 pm
Rae and Betty Liu, chairman and CEO at D and Z Media Acquisition Corp, spoke about racism in the workplace, with the producer saying the responsibility doesn't fall solely on the victims of social inequity.
“There's only so much that we, the victims of systemic racism, can do to change minds. It can't just fall on us, and it touches on issues with parity with white women. It's important for white women to talk to other white women, for white men to also talk to others, too, to help make that change. Because it can't just be up to us,” Rae added.
The Insecure actress said during the protests over racial injustice in 2020, she was interested in seeing what "allies" were doing to make a difference, and added that she watched the protests to see "who was on the front lines, who was educating other people to make a difference."
But Rae said that as she has matured and grown within the entertainment industry, she has felt more willing to speak out.
"I know that I'm not going to give up. I know that I've also established a lot more relationships within this industry than I had a couple of years ago," she said.
"So I feel less scared to broach these conversations and to call them out. I don't fear for my career as much where if I speak out too much I may be blackballed. I don't have those fears because I have a voice and I wish somebody would try. I feel like I have a platform and I am encouraged by certain allies to speak up," she added.
In addition to social issues exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, Rae told Liu that many women of color have struggled to speak out about pertinent issues.
“I found that, for several women in the workplace, myself included, we've felt afraid to express ourselves out of fear of being reprimanded and out of fear of experiencing pushback in some ways or losing our jobs. It's so important to create a space where we can be heard without fear of punishment,” Rae said.
During the interview, the multi-talented actress said it was difficult to balance fears about the virus against the desires of many to get back to work. The entertainment industry has been one of the hardest hit, leaving millions out of work as movies, TV shows and theater troupes slowly tried to get back into action.
She noted that it was important for leaders to go out of their way to give women space and time for themselves during times like these. Additionally, said she's had employees who both needed extra days off to manage their families as well as others who wanted more work in order to get away from their families.