Jane Fonda appeared on CNN to speak about the protests following the death of George Floyd

By Ale Russian
June 02, 2020 01:30 PM
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Actress and activist Jane Fonda is addressing white privilege in the wake of George Floyd's death and the ensuing protests.

Fonda appeared on CNN on Sunday to discuss her own white privilege and how it affects people of color in America.

"Because we’re white, we have had privilege," Fonda, 82, said to host Don Lemon during her segment. "Even the poorest of us have had privilege. And we need to recognize that, and we have to understand what it is that keeps racism in place — the policies, redlining, banking policies, mortgage policies. All of the things that are really making it very, very difficult for Black people to lift themselves up. The policies have to be changed, and then white people have to understand the history that has led to this and we have to try to change within ourselves. And we have to get to know Black people...and we have to understand the reality that they live in, and we have to do it now.""

Fonda also spoke about the protests in recent years and how they've brought information to the spotlight.

"I think what matters is, is that more and more people, white people, are getting it," she said. "When Donald Trump was elected [the] Band-aid was torn off and people could see very blatantly the racism in the country that’s always been there. But it was revealed in a new and more robust way to us and then encouraged by this administration. I think a lot of white people got it. … And maybe like me, I realized I didn’t understand enough about the history of racism, about slavery and reconstruction, Jim Crow and the New Jim Crow, so for the last three years I’ve very intentionally begun studying... to help me understand."

The actress appeared wearing a black sweater and black beret, a symbol of the Black Panther Party which she supported in the 1970s. Fonda unofficially adopted then-teenager Mary Luana Williams, the daughter of two Black Panther activists who could no longer take care of her. Williams later wrote about Fonda and her experience in her novel The Lost Daughter: A Memoir. 

Fonda is often outspoken about political, social and environmental causes. She most recently participated in Fire Drill Fridays, in which activists protested outside the U.S. Capitol for climate change. Fonda was arrested at every demonstration along with activists and celebrities who joined her week-by-week.

The Klute star has also been a strong supporter of feminist causes for decades.

WATCH: #SeeHer Story: Jane Fonda

Fonda has also encountered controversy, including the "Hanoi Jane" incident in the 1970s with her fierce opposition to the Vietnam War.

In 1972, she traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam and posed in an infamous photo where she sat on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft battery. Critics called her "Hanoi Jane" after the incident, and Fonda later apologized to veterans, saying she would "go to my grave regretting the photograph."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

•Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

•National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.