In a cover interview with Cosmopolitan, Keke Palmer commented on her experience at a Black Lives Matter protest in Los Angeles last month, specifically touching on an interaction that went viral through a clip posted by NBC News in which Palmer is seen urging members of the National Guard to march with protesters and them instead kneeling to display solidarity.
“I thought it wasn’t enough,” Palmer said. “George Floyd died because somebody kneeled on his neck. I’m not looking for you to kneel. I’m not looking for a moment. I’m looking for us to stand together. If now isn’t the time to do it, then when is? Because there was a time when standing up to the slave master seemed crazy as hell too.”
In the clip, Palmer passionately asks National Guard members to “March beside us. Let the revolution be televised, march beside us and show us that you’re here for us.” One guard explains he cannot march more than a city block because he has to protect nearby businesses. He and other guardsmen then kneel when the crowd asks them to show solidarity.
Palmer recalled the moment in the interview, criticizing the priorities behind the decision.
“We’re the ones that need to be protected, not the damn buildings!” she said. “The buildings can be rebuilt. When we start to approach [the guardsmen], I’m literally just thinking aloud, ‘Why are they not with us?’… I was overwhelmed with the emotion of everybody knowing what’s happening, that it’s not right. And this is something that, as a Black person, we’ve known… I know what it feels like to be hated for your skin. It’s so silly and it’s so stupid, but it’s so cruel. I know what it feels like when somebody is racist toward you, and you literally go to a sunken place, you can’t speak.”
“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,’” Palmer continued. “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 s—. ‘Yo, we need you to take a stand with us because this has got to stop.’”
Despite her disappointment in the guardsmen, Palmer still affirmed she found the gathering to be a moving display of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It was so euphoric,” she said.”I just felt so united with everybody. It wasn’t no celebrity-type s—, you know what I mean? I’ve never felt like that before. If I sit and think about everything that’s happened in this country, I wouldn’t get out of f—ing bed in the morning. So for us to have that moment of just helping each other heal, just standing by each other, marching and saying, ‘No justice, no peace.’ That’s so powerful.”
Palmer also penned a guest column for Variety in June explaining why she chose to join the Black Lives Matter protests in Los Angeles and articulating her disappointment over National Guard members refusing to march with the protesters.
“I have waited for a revolution, I believe, my entire life,” Palmer wrote. “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.”