The ever-outspoken Rihanna used her NAACP President's Award win at the 51st NAACP Image Awards to spread a powerful message on what's needed to survive these polarizing times: unity.
On February 22, the superstar wore a ruffled, royal purple Givenchy couture gown, and addressed a room of her Black peers across entertainment and media. Rihanna opened by acknowledging that her work is but "a very small part of the work that is being done in this world and the work that is yet to be done."
Rihanna has successfully parlayed her chart-topping reputation into powerful advocacy for important causes, from global education reform and disaster relief efforts via her Clara Lionel Foundation to speaking out on police brutality in solidarity with fellow activists like Colin Kaepernick.
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"If there's anything that I've learned it's that we can only fix this world together," Rihanna said in the speech. "We can't do it divided, I cannot emphasize that enough."
In order to fight division, Rihanna added that humanity must become more sensitive to the struggles of one another. "We can't let the de-sensitivity seep in: 'If it's your problem, it's not mine. It's a woman's problem. It's a Black people problem. It's a poor people problem,'" she said.
She continued, in the quotes that have since gone viral: "How many of us in this room have colleagues, partners, friends of other races, sexes, religions? Then you know, if they want to break bread with you, and they like you, then this is their problem too. So when we're marching, protesting, and posting about the Michael Brown Jrs and Tatiana Jeffersons of the world, tell your friends to pull up."
Among the night's winners at the NAACP Image Awards were Lizzo, who was named Entertainer of the Year, while Beyoncé and her daughter Blue Ivy Carter won for "Brown Skin Girl", from the singer's Lion King album. "Imagine what we could do together," Rihanna concluded.
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