While being honored Saturday night at the NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, California, the 32-year-old singer and businesswoman called for everyone to unite to "fix this world together."
"We can't do it divided," Rihanna said. "I cannot emphasize that enough."
The NAACP announced this month that it had selected the pop star and fashion icon to receive this year's President's Award for her “groundbreaking career as an artist and musician, but (who) has also distinguished herself as a stellar public servant.”
Rihanna, born Robyn Rihanna Fenty, launched the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012, named in honor of her grandparents. The foundation "funds groundbreaking and effective education, health and emergency response programs around the world," according to her official Fenty Beauty website.
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"We can't let the desensitivity seep in," she said. "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.' I mean, how many of us in this room have colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions: Show of hands? Well, then you know they want to break bread with you, right? They like you. Well, then this is their problem, too.
"So when we're marching and protesting and posting about the Michael Brown Jrs. and the Atatiana Jeffersons of the world, tell your friends to pull up."
Rihanna is a nine-time Grammy Award winner who launched her own fashion line last year called Fenty with LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury group. She also has a lingerie line, Savage X Fenty, that made its debut in 2018.
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NAACP President Derrick Johnson said Rihanna “epitomizes the type of character, grace and devotion to justice” that the organization seeks to highlight. Other recipients of the award include Jay-Z, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson and Condoleezza Rice.
"Thank you to the NAACP for all of your efforts to ensure equality for our communities. Thank you for celebrating our strength and tenacity," Rihanna concluded. "We have been denied opportunity since the beginning of time and still we prevail, so I am honored. Imagine what we could do together."