Grammy Award-winner Lady Gaga is continuing to use her platform to stand up against injustice.
The King Center, an Atlanta-based organization working to uphold civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, honored the singer with the Yolanda Denise King Higher Ground Award at the Beloved Community Awards on Sunday, according to Dazed magazine.
Lady Gaga accepted the accolade with a seven-minute speech condemning racism and white supremacy, days before she will perform the national anthem at President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The pop star began her address by acknowledging the ways in which she’s privileged.
“The color of my own skin is not lost on me,” she said. “I am aware I am before you as Stefani Germanotta, my given name; as Lady Gaga, a famous white woman with the power of a large platform,” she said. “My racial identity alone centers my whiteness while I’m still very much finding my place in creating Dr. King Jr’s beloved community.”
The Higher Ground Award is presented to an individual in arts, entertainment, or sports who represents characteristics of the Beloved community by choosing “to take the higher ground in challenging adversary times,” singer Jennifer Hudson, who virtually introduced Lady Gaga, said.
The King Center recognized Lady Gaga for her work as the co-founder of the Born This Way Foundation, an organization supporting young people’s mental health by making programs and resources easily accessible.
The singer-songwriter also stepped up to help raise almost $128 million for COVID-19 relief through Global Citizen’s One World: Together At Home virtual event and showed support of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
“I dedicate this award to Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, triumphant people, whose resilience is the life force of every beloved community in this country,” the singer said. “Black, Brown, and Indigenous people continue to thrive in the midst of systemic oppression, thrive with radical joy, unapologetically creating full and beautiful lives despite the systems of white supremacy that are intended to keep them from doing so.”
She went on to highlight the importance of holding white people accountable and to stress the value of Black life.
“Black life matters. Blackness matters. Black joy matters,” she said. “White people, I believe that Black life represents the best of our nation and as white people, I believe we have a responsibility to unlearn, to accept the honest truth about the history of our country, admit that white supremacy makes us unhealthy, and change our own behaviors to contribute to a world where freedom is real for everyone."
Lady Gaga continued to call on white people to turn inward and reflect on the roles that they play in perpetuating systemic racism.
“Simply by default, white people who look like me are taught that we are fine and everyone else, those other people, need fixing,” she said. “I invite you to join me in unlearning this American narrative. I invite us to stop asking, ‘What is wrong with them?’ and instead relentlessly ask, ‘What is wrong with us?’”
Lady Gaga also shared her hope in creating a more equitable world.
“Systems of white supremacy were designed by humans,” she said. “They are literally socially constructed, which means they can be dismantled by humans. I believe that one way freedom can be possible is when white people accept systems of oppression serve us while literally taking the lives of people of color.”