Queen Latifah is making headlines this week for speaking out on Friday morning’s TODAY show about rising tensions between police officers and the general public, the two extrajudicial executions of black men that were displayed on social media in the past week — those of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile — and the murders of five Dallas police officers by a lone gunman on Thursday night following a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest.
— HuffPost BlackVoices (@blackvoices) July 9, 2016
Queen Latifah was booked on the morning talk show to talk about her role in the upcoming installment of the animated Ice Age franchise — which opens in theaters July 22 — but the conversation took a serious turn as the TODAY show — technically part of the NBC News division — invited their guest into the fold during what turned out to be a very disturbing and depressing news cycle focused on gun violence and abuse of power.
Queen Latifah remarked that she is “almost at a loss for words” after the country was faced with so much violence in the news cycle over such a short period of time. She also talked about the fact that many members of both her immediate and extended family are police officers, and that she finds it understandably painful not only to watch extrajudicial executions of black Americans, but to watch when gun violence is turned on police officers in the line of duty as well.
The actress and singer suggested that the power dynamics within police organizations need to be examined, and that it puts police officers in increased danger when “bad apples” are not forced to face consequences for their dangerous or reckless actions. She also said that she feels the higher-ups in the police organizations are hanging their professional inferiors out to dry by not empowering them to speak out when they sense danger among their own.
“It’s terrible, but we have to get real about it. If we get real about it, we can deal with it. But if we want to act like, ‘Oh no, that’s their problem,’ and ‘This only happens here.’ No, it’s happening to all of us. […] My brother who became a cop was also the victim of cops who harrassed him. You know? So, it’s so tricky for us. But we’ve got to deal with this. We have to deal with it.”
— billboard (@billboard) July 8, 2016
Queen Latifah’s comments are gutsy because celebrities, especially entertainers, often face backlash from the public when they speak out about current events and politically charged topics. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the gunman in Dallas on Thursday night murdered five Dallas police officers and wounded seven others. On Friday, Ben Collins and Katie Zavadski of the Daily Beast found a connection between the gunman, Micah Xavier Johnson, and a tiny hate group called the African American Defense League.
The African American Defense League is a miniscule group that has been calling for the murder of white police officers on their Facebook page — followed by only 170 people, and Micah Xavier Johnson was one of them — for at least two years. It is important to note that this tiny fringe group is unaffiliated with the large, peaceful, national movement known as Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter was formed in the summer of 2014 following the killing of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis with a predominantly black population and a predominantly white police force. They are currently protesting peacefully all over the country in response to the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
What do you think about Queen Latifah’s comments? Should celebrities speak out about controversial and emotionally charged subjects, or should they stick to promoting their films on talk shows regardless of outside circumstances?
[Image courtesy of Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]