The former The View cohost touched on poverty and what it's like growing up in the system: "When you are born into poverty, you need help. Hang on to hope, 'cause I sure did"

By Alexia Fernández and Dave Quinn
Updated January 20, 2017 11:55 PM

Rosie Perez opened up about growing up in poverty at an Inauguration Day concert in New York City Friday.

Perez, 52, spoke to an excited crowd at a concert designed to raise money for national organizations dedicated to protecting civil rights, women’s health and environmental protection.

“They can’t win. We can’t have hate win,” she said of the incoming Trump administration. “Especially the kids that are less than in regards to living in poverty. We have someone who might be the head of housing who said that poverty is a choice.”

She continued: “My a– didn’t choose to be poor. Darling, if I could have had that silver spoon, I would have grabbed it like a hot b—-.”

During her introduction of actress Chita Rivera, the former The View cohost touched on her previous experience inside the foster care system, saying policy affecting youth born in poverty had always affected her.

“I understood that the American Dream meant if I buckled down, I could make it,” she said. “But, when you are born into poverty, you need help. It’s not a child’s fault that they’re born into poverty. Hang on to hope, ’cause I sure did. Hang on to the dream that there are good people out there who are fighting for you. You can make it.”

The Fearless actress continued her speech, turning to the youth present and listening, telling them to seek good role models in the face of trying times.

“Look for a mentor — especially now,” she encouraged. “All the people out there, all the adults, look for a kid who needs you. We need to hold each other’s backs up high.”

“Concert For America: Stand Up, Sing Out!” featured performances by some of Broadway’s hottest stars, including Kinky Boots alum Billy Porter, and legendary stage icons like Chita Rivera and Ben Vereen.

It’s the first in a series of monthly benefit concerts — all the brainchild of Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, who also organized the Broadway For Orlando fundraising single, music video, and concert.

Proceeds benefit several national organizations working to protect human rights, including the NAACP, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, National Immigration Law Center, NAACP, and Sierra Club Foundation. Donations can be made for those not attending in person.

Additional concert locations for the “Concert for America: Stand Up, Sing Out!” series will be announced in the coming weeks.