Actress and musician, Keke Palmer, believes Donald Trump is “inciting a race war” in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests that have reignited after the death of George Floyd. The 46-year-old Black man died after a white Minneapolis cop, Derek Chauvin, was filmed kneeling on his neck, ignoring the victim’s pleas that he could not breathe during an arrest in May.
Palmer, 26, made those comments during an interview with Cosmopolitan.
Floyd’s death sparked largely peaceful protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the United States, with people calling for reform. In the wake of the protests, – which are still ongoing – Trump has, however, been very largely critical of the protestors, referring to them as “thugs” and threatening to deploy the military against them.
The president has also registered his displeasure with the taking down of some confederate monuments across the country amid growing calls that they embody white supremacy. According to the Akeelah and the Bee actress, Trump is taking advantage of the current climate in the country. On Monday, he called out Black NASCAR driver, Bubba Wallace, claiming the noose that was found in his garage in June was a “hoax.” He also criticized the auto racing organization’s confederate flag ban on its racetracks.
“He’s inciting a race war,” she said. “His craziness is inspiring us to just really get him the f*ck out! It’s like we needed somebody who riled us up so much for us to be activated to the point of saying, ‘Oh, hell no. I can’t let this guy continue. I have to do something. I have to find a way to let my voice be heard and to let people know that I’m not with this.’”
Though the protests have coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, Palmer said the quarantine period came with its own silver lining.
“Of course no one wanted the coronavirus pandemic to happen, but I think quarantine allowed us to be more reflective,” Palmer, who features on the magazine’s latest issue, said. “Maybe before, we’d be able to gloss over it because of work. It’s also been a buildup: There have been so many names turned into hashtags, so much pain.”
She continued: “It blows me away because our language has progressed—I don’t mean specifically Black people. I mean young people, millennials. Naming white supremacy, saying that out loud. When I heard ‘defund the police,’ I’m like, Oh, sh*t. We actually could do that.”
Palmer has long been a vocal advocate for change and reform. She participated in protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown. She also went viral last month when she was filmed asking national guardsmen to “stand with the community” during George Floyd protests in Hollywood.
Speaking about that moment, she said: “At that moment, I felt like, You’re human like me. I’m fighting out here, not just for me but for you too, you and the universe. How in control is this system for them to be able to stop y’all from seeing that?”
“Everything I said came out like word vomit. I know I didn’t let him get a word in edgewise, but it was because I wanted him to feel me. I wanted to connect to the human, not the suit, not this robot-ass sh*t. ‘Yo, we need you to take a stand with us because this has got to stop.'”
Palmer’s comments come after writing an op-ed in Variety’s guest column last month, explaining why a revolution in the United States is needed to dismantle and rebuild a system that is more “equitable” and “representative.”
“I like following rules and doing what I’m told. As a kid, these rules stick with you. But even at a young age, I was taught to question the things that didn’t feel right to me,” she wrote.
“Sometimes, going against authority is the only remedy for change, especially when we have seen, too often, those authority figures step over the line. So where do you draw the line? How do you know to draw the line? Is there a line?”
She explained: “I have waited for a revolution, I believe, my entire life. I feel it’s like this for many millennials; messages about following rules and staying in line have since evolved into calls to stand up and get others to stand with you, to challenge authority and recognize different life experiences while gathering with others who are like-minded.”
“I truly believe that everything that has led us to this moment has prepared us for a revolution and a revelation: the dismantling and rebuilding of a system that is better, more equitable and representative of the people it claims to represent.”
Concluding, she said: “So while it may be scary, we were born for this: We were born to be leaders and grow out of just “following rules” because following rules isn’t enough. We are now being called to challenge the rules and to challenge the character of those making them.”