Whoopi Goldberg Speaks Out on Tackling Systemic Racism: 'See People for Who They Are'

"The first thing that has to happen is people have to first look at people and see them for who they are, not for who they fear they are," the star said

Whoopi Goldberg
Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty

Whoopi Goldberg is sharing what she believes needs to happen in order for the United States to combat systemic racism.

While appearing on Sunday night's episode of Watch What Happens Live, the View co-host was asked about what she thinks must be the "first thing dismantled within our country that's been enforcing systemic racism."

"Well, racism is in the heart of the country," Goldberg, 64, told host Andy Cohen. "You can't get away from it, children are taught it without realizing that that's what they're learning. So, the first thing that has to happen is people have to first look at people and see them for who they are, not for who they fear they are, but for who they actually are."

"And then, you know, the good cops have to call out bad behavior so we can get rid of the bad cops and reteach police departments around the country how to police again," the Oscar winner continued. "Because now they're soldiers, and we're not in a war, we're not in wars in our towns and neighborhoods."

"So, they must relearn how to police," she added. "And that is going to take the action of the federal government."

Goldberg then called out President Donald Trump, who she said "doesn't believe there is institutionalized racism," adding that until people start to recognizing and "admitting what we're seeing," then the problem won't be addressed.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

"Everybody has to say, 'Yes, there is a problem and we see it and we want to fix it,' " Goldberg said. "That's what has to happen."

Rita Moreno, who also appeared as a guest on the show, then chimed in saying that "seems to be" happening right now.

Goldberg agreed with her, adding, "You're right, it is seeming to be happening and I'm excited about it. Whenever we've watched stuff happen on television or on our computers, things change."

"When you think about voting rights, people watched every night. Black people getting hosed and children getting bitten by dogs, every night," Goldberg recalled of the black suffrage movement. "They saw the protests, the peaceful protests, and people saw it every night and things started to change."

Goldberg's comments come as the nation grapples with a reckoning over racial injustice and police brutality in the weeks following the murder of George Floyd — an unarmed black man who pleaded for his life as a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck.

Floyd, 46, died on May 25 from "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression," according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's report released on June 1 that also ruled his death a homicide.

The police officer, Derek Chauvin, was previously charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter but had his murder charge upgraded to second-degree murder. Chauvin hasn't entered a plea yet, and his attorney has not responded to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Three other officers — Thomas Lane, 37; Tou Thao, 34; and J. Alexander Kueng, 26 — have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. They have not yet entered pleas.

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 the 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.
Related Articles