"My whole life, police have made me feel safe. But that’s exactly the center of my white privilege," the actress wrote in an Instagram post

By Alexia Fernandez
June 09, 2020 06:45 PM
Natalie Portman
Steve Granitz/WireImage

Natalie Portman is opening up about her initial trepidation over activists' calls to defund police across the country.

The Oscar-winning actress, 39, shared her experience in an Instagram post that included an informational slide on what "defund the police" means along with an explanation on how her opinion had changed.

"When I first heard #defundthepolice, I have to admit my first reaction was fear," Portman began. "My whole life, police have made me feel safe. But that’s exactly the center of my white privilege: the police make me as a white woman feel safe, while my black friends, family and neighbors feel the opposite: police make them feel terror. And for good reason."

She continued, "Police are the 6th leading cause of death for black men in this country. These are not isolated incidents. They are patterns and part of the system of over-policing of black Americans."

"Reforms," in her opinion, "have not worked."

"I am grateful to the leaders in the @mvmnt4blklives who have made us question the status quo," Portman wrote. "And who have made us imagine, what a world could be like in which we invested in nourishing people; (in their education, healthcare, environment, shelter)— rather than putting all of our money into punishment."

"I’ve gotten to the age in my life, where if my gut feels uncomfortable, I take the situation as wrong," the actress added. "But this concept initially made me uncomfortable because I was wrong. Because the system that makes me feel comfortable is wrong. #defendblacklives#defundthepolice Swipe right for additional resources via @theslacktivists."

Since Floyd's death in May and ensuing nationwide protests, the push to defund police has gained renewed attention.

Some have gone even further, proposing police departments be abolished entirely and replaced with new systems to ensure community safety by focusing on social services and crisis intervention.

Still, one recent poll of Americans found they did not approve of cutting budgets, though they strongly supported some other reforms.

Advocates have called for police defunding for years, arguing that money from those budgets could instead go to services that prioritize housing, employment, community health, education and other programs that address root issues leading to crime.

Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti said he would push to cut as much as $150 million from the L.A. Police Department budget, instead redirecting that and other money toward community initiatives like jobs and health care.

New York City Councilman Carlos Menchaca has also called for a cut of $1 billion from the New York Police Department this year with a plan to "reinvest that back into our communities," in a post he wrote on Twitter earlier this month.

On Sunday, a majority of the Minneapolis city council announced their intention to dismantle and replace the city’s police department in the wake of Floyd’s death, though the mayor does not support their plan.