Pop star Lily Allen has declined to accept a Hero Of The Year award given to her at the Diversity Media Awards held this week, and she explains why in an inspiring speech she delivered during the ceremony.
"I can't accept this award, I'm not a hero, although I've met a few since I became involved in the relief effort following that night in June where so many lost their lives, in a horrendous fire at Grenfell Tower," she said referring to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in which more than 80 people lost their lives and other residents lost their homes. "I felt uncomfortable being considered for this honor if I'm honest," she continued.
She then also began talking about her privilege as a successful white woman. "Me being here at all is emblematic of one of the biggest problem I believe this nation of 'ours' is facing. Me, a middle-class white woman rewarded for speaking up for the people that I believe in, in an area I grew up in and call home," she said "For years, the Grenfell action group was dismissed, ignored and vilified. Whether it was talking about the safety of the building or the social cleansing in the area, it is when legitimate voices are ignored that privilege shows its true color."
She then went on to cite two examples wherein people of color had to face consequences for airing their opinions.
"Recently Monroe Bergdorf was stripped of her contract with L'oreal for expressing opinions not unlike the ones I'am free to express on a platform afforded to me partly due to my privilege... This week the White House called ESPN's Jemelle Hills' tweets about Trump a fireable offense. Jemelle's crime was not having the audacity to pass comments... as the 1st amendment of the US Constitution entitles her to do so, her real crime was doing so while also being an African-American woman".
Allen then called on people to acknowledge their privilege and its consequences."Refusal to confront our white privilege and the guilt and shame that comes with that acceptance is a global cancer... by not speaking up, by not accepting that our privilege exists are encouraging these injustices to continue".
"This medal is a challenge to us all, to stand up and recognize that diversity is not about tokenism, but a higher learning understanding each other." She then went on to dedicate her award to the unrecognized heroes.
"This award goes to the real heroes of which there are many who are rarely recognized, to those on the fringes fighting for survival and to retain their identity in a world that is judgmental, dismissive and seemingly uncaring."
Lily Allen posted her entire speech on twitter.
It got a positive response and trans model Munroe Bergdorf who was mentioned in the speech thanked her for her support.
Great job on your words Ms. Allen; hopefully people will listen.