Lady Gaga has given a powerful speech on racial justice and dismantling white supremacy as she collected a Beloved Community award.
The awards were given out by The King Center, a non-profit in Atlanta that was founded in 1968 by Coretta Scott King as a “living memorial” to Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
Gaga received the Higher Ground award and was presented with it by Jennifer Hudson in the virtual ceremony, which was held yesterday (January 16).
In a video acceptance speech, the pop star discussed her own journey with racial justice and confronting her racial bias as a white person. “The colour of my own skin is not lost on me in this very radicalised moment,” she said. “I am aware I am before you as Stefani Germanotta, my given name; as Lady Gaga, a famous white woman with the power of a large platform. My racial identity alone centres my whiteness while I’m still very much finding my place in crating Dr King Jr’s beloved community.”
After dedicating the award to people of colour, Gaga addressed white people and told them: “Black lives matter. Black life matters. Blackness matters. Black joy matters. White people, I believe that Black life represents the best of our nation and as white people, I believe we have a responsibility to unlearn, to accept the honest truth about the history of our country, admit that white supremacy makes us unhealthy and change our own behaviours to contribute to a world where freedom is real for everyone.”
She continued: “White people, I believe we must right our wrongs without shame, we must change our actions and we must do this for ourselves. This is just one of our roles in the beloved community. To adapt some of Dr King Jr’s language, I believe white people must qualitatively heal our insides and we must quantitatively change our actions and behaviours. Unlearning allows me to walk through the world differently. I no longer say I don’t see colour, as I used to say. Instead, I now celebrate colour. Saying I don’t see colour was once the greatest thing standing in my way of understanding what a beloved community requires.
“Unlearning means I look for racialised social constructs in every part of my life. Every day, all day. I try to fight against them and change my own actions when I collude with them or benefit from them. Unlearning has given me a new set of eyes. The more I see with these new eyes, the more I change my own beliefs. The more my beliefs change, the more I change my own actions. The more my actions change, the deeper my commitment to a liberated community grows and I hope my actions affect the actions of others.”
The musician added that white people needed “moral healing from centuries of unearned power” and to accept how they benefit from systems of white supremacy.
“Systems of white supremacy were designed by humans,” she explained. “They are literally socially constructed, which means they can be dismantled by humans. I believe that one way freedom can be possible is when white people accept systems of oppression serve us while literally taking the lives of people of colour.
“Simply by default, white people who look like me are taught that we are fine and those other people need fixing. I invite you in joining me in unlearning this American narrative. I invite us to stop asking ‘What is wrong with them?’ and instead relentlessly ask ‘What is wrong with us?’” You can watch Gaga’s speech in full above now.
Meanwhile, Gaga has been confirmed to sing the US national anthem at Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday (January 20). The star previously supported the President-elect and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ campaign, performing at a special drive-in event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the run-up to the 2020 election.