Caroline Goldstein
Updated June 10, 2020
Advertisement

In a guest column for Variety published on June 9th, actor, talk-show host, and activist Keke Palmer opens up about her role in the racial justice revolution—and the story behind the now-viral video of Palmer urging members of the National Guard to march with her and her fellow protestors at a recent protest in Los Angeles.

In opening her essay, Palmer—a self-described rule-follower—writes that, “sometimes, going against authority is the only remedy for change, especially when we have seen, too often, those authority figures step over the line.”

The June 8th video is the very definition of challenging authority in the hopes of effecting change. With a group of protestors supporting her, Palmer implores three National Guard members to march beside them: “Let the revolution be televised and show us that you’re here for us,” she says. “Make history with us, please.”

One guardsman says he can’t leave his post, adding that he has to “protect the businesses” in the area. When he offers to march a short distance with them, another protestor asks the guards to kneel in solidarity instead. But Palmer can be heard saying, “That ain’t enough for me.”

Of the encounter, Palmer writes in Variety, “At one point, I spoke with National Guardsmen who were preventing us from marching past a certain point and challenged them to march with us. In my wildest dreams, they would all march with us without risk of punishment, in the same way that if the whole class walks out of school, no one gets detention for it. If enough of them felt moved to do this, it would offer so much inspiration and impact the movement in such a meaningful way.”

The Black Lives Matter protests occurring all over the world have been largely peaceful in the weeks since George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25th—but incidents of police brutality against those peaceful protestors have been overwhelming. We’ve seen evidence, too, of officers kneeling in solidarity, then proceeding to “attack peaceful protestors,” Palmer writes. That’s why the guardsmen kneeling “[wasn’t] enough” for her.

“Kneeling has become a mockery of sorts,” Palmer writes. “Kneeling on George Floyd’s neck is what killed him … At this point, the kneeling has no meaning.”

But Palmer adds that this most recent wave of the civil rights movement has her feeling mobilized, energized, and confident in our collective ability to dismantle systems of oppression.

“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,” she writes. “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 have a long, long road ahead of us. But Palmer—and, we’ll venture to say, so many others—is absolutely prepared for the journey.

“I have waited for a revolution, I believe, my entire life,” she writes.