LOS ANGELES — Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Jazmine Sullivan were some of the big stars using the BET Awards stage to strongly criticize the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strip away women’s constitutional protection for abortion.
Henson took the stage as the show’s host on Sunday with an uplifting message about “Black excellence” before she launched into the court’s overturning of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling last week. The actor took the stage after Lizzo opened the show performing her single “About Damn Time.”
“It’s about damn time we talk about the fact that guns have more rights than a woman. It’s a sad day in America,” said Henson, thanking Lizzo who along with Live Nation recently donated $1 million in tour proceeds to Planned Parenthood.
“A weapon that can take lives has more power than a woman that can give life — if she chooses to.”
Janelle Monae held up her middle finger toward the Supreme Court before she introduced nominees for best female R&B/pop artist. Her speech earned a standing applause at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
“These artists are making art on our own terms, owning our truths and expressing ourselves freely and unapologetically in a world that tries to control and police our bodies, my body and our decisions, my body,” said the singer, who also paid homage to the LGBTQ+ community. “(explicit) you Supreme Court. I know we’re celebrating us right now as we should. We absolutely deserve to celebrate — especially now we should celebrate our art by protecting our right and our truths.”
Afterward, Monae introduced Sullivan as the category’s winner; she made a plea to men for their support of women.
“It’s a hard time for us,” Sullivan said. “I want to speak directly to the men: We need y’all. We need y’all to stand up, stand up for us, stand up with us. If you’ve ever benefitted from a woman making one of the toughest decisions of her life, which is to terminate a pregnancy, you need to be standing. This is not just a woman issue. This is everybody’s issue. We need your support more than ever.”