Singer and actress Queen Latifah told the audience at the 2016 VH1 Hip Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens ceremony on Monday that “racism is still alive” in America in the wake of violent Black Lives Matter protests and police shootings across the country.
While accepting an award for her many successes in hip-hop as a female artist, Latifah remarked on the ongoing tension across the country.
“Listen we all know that the world, that our world, is really tense right now. It’s a lot of angst. It’s a lot of hurt. A lot of pain,” she said.
“I’m hoping that we can somehow manage to channel all of these emotions that we have in a positive way by not taking ’no’ and really do something to change our world,” the Miracles from Heaven star said, following the police-involved deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the ambush and murder of five Dallas police officers earlier this month.
Latifah warned that despite her fortune and star status, she’s not immune to America’s lingering vestiges of racism.
“I don’t care how much money or things I have, or Puff has or Missy has,” she said. “If I go outside and try to hail a cab and he passes me for the white woman standing right there, that racism is still alive and kicking. And we have to change that. And I’m not blaming the white lady, she needed a cab too.”
“I’m just saying we got to change this attitude,” Latifah concluded.
The night included an appearance by First Lady Michelle Obama.
The star-studded event kicked off with remarks from Black Lives Matter co-founders Alicia Garza and Darnell Moore.
“This movement is grounded in black peoples’ dignity, justice and freedom. It’s about love, not violence,” Garza said.
“In challenging times, our music heals us, unites us and uplifts us,” Moore added.
Obama thanked honorees Missy Elliot and Queen Latifah for “empowering young women” through their “music and activism.”