Rihanna was awarded the President’s Award the NAACP Image Awards this past Saturday, where she was honoured for her many philanthropic efforts in the black community.
She delivered a passionate speech during the ceremony, which was broadcast live on BET on 22 February.
“Thank you to the staff, board and community of the NAACP, including all of you guys here in this room and everyone at home watching who’s devoted their lives and efforts toward supporting people of colour,” said the singer.
“I’m going to try to keep this simple because tonight is not really about me because the purpose is bigger than me, right? It’s not bigger than us together, but it’s bigger than me because my part is a very small part of the work that’s being done in this world and the work that has yet to be done.”
The President’s Award is given in “recognition of a special achievement and distinguished public service,” according the organisation’s website.
In 2012, the Barbadian singer, entrepreneur and activist founded the Clara Lionel Foundation, a non-profit organization named after her grandmother that “funds groundbreaking education and emergency preparedness and response programs around the world.”
In her efforts for the foundation, she has raised millions of dollars thanks in part to her annual Diamond Ball gala.
“If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that we can only fix this world together,” she continued. “We can’t do it divided. I can not emphasize that enough. We can’t let the desensitivity seep in. The ‘If it’s your problem, then it’s not mine.’ ‘It’s a woman’s problem.’ ‘It’s a black people problem.’ ‘It’s a poor people problem.’”
“How many of us in this room have colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions” she asked. “Well then, you know, they want to break bread with you, right? They like you? Well then, this is their problem too.”
Rihanna’s philanthropic efforts extend beyond the Clara Lionel Foundation. She also works with Raising Malawi and UNICEF and was selected as Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017.