Singer Demi Lovato opened up about the shame she feels for her white privilege and how she changed her social advocacy following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, both of which sparked a wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the country.
Writing in Vogue, the singer lamented for several paragraphs about her ongoing struggles with mental illness and anxiety, which the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated. Looking back on 2020, she feels it has been a year of great change that has helped her realize how much more she should be doing to help other people.
“I’ve always taken my advocacy work seriously, but now I’m looking at it with renewed focus. In this particular instance, what motivated me was knowing how much of myself comes from Black culture,” she wrote. “I grew up listening to Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and other soulful singers, but those two Black women in particular shaped me into the vocalist I am. If you look at my life, everything that I have — money, success, a roof over my head — it’s because of the inspiration those Black women gave me. I continue to be constantly inspired by people of color today.”
“So here I am, sitting in a home that I was able to afford with the money that I have from singing, while people of color are fearing for their lives every day,” she continued. “I realized this was a lightning bolt jolting through my body, where I was reminded of my privilege. I felt an overwhelming responsibility to help spread awareness about this injustice, so I began posting things that I thought would educate people.”
Lovato admitted to being at first uncomfortable with this newfound racial advocacy, which then culminated into her feeling ashamed for her privilege and the fact that she shares the same skin color as those who are accused of committing “heinous crimes” against black people.
“All I knew was that I hated that I shared the same skin color as the people accused of committing heinous crimes against Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many, many other Black lives,” she wrote. “After taking some time to educate myself, what I’ve learned is that to be a good ally, you need to be willing to protect people at all costs. You have to step in if you see something happening that’s not right: a racist act, a racist comment, a racist joke. And it’s not just with Black Lives Matter. It’s also with the Me Too movement. Finally, the world is waking up and it’s beautiful to witness.”
Going forward, Lovato said she does not know exactly how society should change, only asserting that it needs to be more inclusive of all people, including transgender individuals.
“Creating environments where women, people of color and trans people feel safe is important,” she wrote. “Not just safe, but equal to their cis, white, male counterparts. People need to feel like they can enter a space and know they’re not going to be sexually harassed or underpaid. The music industry needs to pay attention. In fact, the entire entertainment industry needs to pay attention.”