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Rihanna, NAACP Image Awards
via YouTube/BETNetworks

Watch Rihanna call for unity in her NAACP Image Awards acceptance speech

‘If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that we can only fix this world together’

“Tell your friends to pull up,” Rihanna said, wrapping up her acceptance speech for the NAACP President’s Award last night (February 22). The statement pretty much sums up the themes of her outstanding speech, which called for unity across race, gender, sexuality, class, and religion.

The musician/philanthropist was presented the award – which was announced earlier this month – for her “groundbreaking career as an artist and musician” but also for her business achievements and “her tremendous record as an activist and philanthropist”, says Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.

Nevertheless, Rihanna was sure to frame her work as: “a very small part of the work that is being done in this world and the work that is yet to be done.”

“If there’s anything that I’ve learned it’s that we can only fix this world together,” she continues, in the speech. “We can’t do it divided, I cannot emphasise that enough.” 

“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.’”

“I mean, 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 Jr.’s and Atatiana Jeffersons of the world, tell your friends to pull up.”

“Imagine what we could do together.”

Lizzo was also among those that picked up an award on the night, winning in the Entertainer of the Year category, while Beyoncé and her daughter Blue Ivy Carter picked up a prize for the song “Brown Skin Girl”, from the singer’s Lion King album.

Watch Rihanna’s speech below.