Rihanna may have been the recipient of one of the biggest honors at the 51st annual NAACP Image Awards on Saturday night (Feb. 22), but she humbly turned the focus towards a powerful and crucial message.
The pop star, actress and beauty and fashion mogul received the President’s Award at the ceremony for her extraordinary philanthropic efforts across the globe: she’s raised millions of dollars for disaster relief, education abroad and awareness for issues affecting communities all over the world, and she stressed that she didn’t make this impact by working on her own.
“Tonight is not really about me, because the purpose is bigger than me, right?” she said upon accepting her award. “It’s not bigger than us together, but it’s bigger than me, because my part is a very small part of the work that is being done in this world and the work that is yet to be done.”
“I’m lucky I was able to start the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012,” she continued, referring to the nonprofit organization she launched in her grandmother’s memory.
“If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that we can fix this world together. We can’t do it divided. I can’t emphasize that enough. We can’t let the desensitivity seep in — the ‘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.’ How many of us in this room have colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions? Show of hands? Well then, they want to break bread with you, right? They like you? Well then, this is their problem, too. So when we’re marching and protesting and posting about the Michael Brown, Jr.s and the Atatiana Jeffersons of the world, tell your friends to pull up.”
She closed her remarks with another call for unity: “Imagine what we could do together. Thank you for this honor.”
Watch Rihanna’s speech in full below.