White celebrities partner with NAACP to ‘take responsibility’ for racism

Sarah Paulson leads a star-studded video of white celebrities checking their privilege for the NAACP.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Sarah Paulson, Aaron Paul, Kristen Bell, Kesha, Justin Theroux, Debra Messing, Julianne Moore and other white celebrities are uniting to “take responsibility” for racism.

In partnership with the NAACP, a video released Thursday features the stars denouncing police brutality and checking their privilege for the #ITakeResponsibility campaign. The video also encourages viewers to visit to take action and “learn more about issues facing the Black community.”

“I take responsibility for every unchecked moment, for every time it was easier to ignore than to call it out for what it was,” the entertainers pledge in the clip. “Every not-so-funny joke, every unfair stereotype, every blatant injustice, no matter how big or small.

“Black people are being slaughtered in the streets, killed in their own homes. These are our brothers and sisters, our friends, our family. We are done watching them die. We are no longer bystanders. We will not be idle. Enough is enough.”


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The script then alludes to the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson and other victims of racial violence, which have spurred a worldwide revolution in support of Black Lives Matter.

“Going for a jog should not be a death sentence,” the celebrities continue. “Sleeping in your own home should not be a death sentence. Playing video games with your nephew should not be a death sentence. Shopping in a store should not be a death sentence. Business as usual should not be life-threatening.”

NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement: “In order for us as a nation to get to a better place, we’re going to have to adjust how we see each other and engage in open and honest conversations that might be painful at times.”

“The fight for civil rights and human rights have always required a diverse coalition of partners and allies,” he added. “It is powerful when white people can speak openly about the individual and structural racism and privilege that deny others their full rights. We need everyone to join us on the frontline in the fight for justice and equality.”

On social media, the PSA has drawn criticism reminiscent of the response to “Wonder Woman” actress Gal Gadot’s now-infamous video of stars singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” amid the coronavirus crisis. And many have challenged the famous participants to do more to fully commit to the cause.


“I encourage each of these actors to hire a team of BIPOC feminists knowledgable on intersectionality to review and advise them on script choices,” tweeted attorney and “Staying in the Game” author Adrienne Lawrence. “No more white savior films, racially tokenized roles, and stereotype perpetuating shenanigans. Take responsibility AND take action.”

“This video confirms that none of these celebrities have Black friends or advisors within their circles, as they would have told them not to do this,” Lawrence added. “Basically, these celebs are telling on themselves.”

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On Wednesday, in another show of solidarity, Hilary Swank, Chelsea Handler, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other prominent white women handed their Instagram accounts over to Black women activists — including Tarana Burke, Melina Abdullah, Alexis McGill Johnson and Angelica Ross, among others — to educate their combined 300 million-plus followers about racial injustice.

Other names who took part in Thursday’s #ITakeResponsibility campaign include Aly Raisman, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ilana Glazer, Mark Duplass, Piper Perabo and Stanley Tucci.

Some of the ways in which celebrities and the public can take action are included on the #ITakeResponsibility campaign’s website, which provides links to support the NAACP, Campaign Zero, the Bail Project, Fair Fight, Black Visions Collective, Reclaim the Block and other social justice organizations.