"Tell your friends to pull up"

Updated: Mar 23

By Shayler Richmond


Our resident savage bad girl gave an acceptance speech at the Image Awards that set the tempo for all of 2020 and it’s only February (meaning Black History month is extended till further notice); “Tell your friends to pull up,” now has a much deeper meaning and it’s time we all learn it and apply it, so pull up and tell your friends to pull up; let’s educate ourselves on how to be supportive and empower one another.


We’re in the middle of a fight, so stop ghosting our struggle.


Rihanna was honored with the President’s Award at the 2020 Image Awards hosted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).


Among other work, Rihanna was honored for her nonprofit organization The Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) which she founded in 2012. CLF funds groundbreaking education, emergency preparedness and response programs around the world.


“I’m lucky that I was able to start the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012 and if there is anything I’ve learned it’s that we can only fix this world together. We cannot do it divided,” said Rihanna (Image Awards Acceptance Speech 2020).


“We can’t let the desensitivity seep in; if it's your problem then it’s not mine. It’s a women’s problem. It’s a Black people problem. It’s a poor people problem,” she continued.


She then asked the audience to raise their hand if they have partners, colleagues and friends from other races, sexes, religions, and I couldn’t see a hand not raised. With this clear display of how interconnected our world is Rihanna mandated the issues concerning one identity should be recieved and acted on by everyone.


Every human problem impacts the collective; emphasis on problem, equity and building community isn't about your preferences. Rhianna's call to action wasn’t a call to mind everyone else’s business or pass judgment on other people but it was a call to stand in solidarity with the people you see struggling.


“So when we’re marching, protesting, and posting about the Michael Brown Jr’s and the Atatiana Jefferson’s of the world… Tell your friends to pull up,” she continued.


There are people we fellowship with in different capcitites fighting battles that would lessen if we decided to stand in solidarity; when Rihanna said pull up she was saying come out of your comfort zone to help someone else; be invested in the common good not just your personal good.


I cried when I heard her acceptance speech. I was off the brown, and it was just one real n**** tear, but a tear nevertheless because I felt so many warm emotions looking into her eyes when she paused then tilted her head and let, “tell your friends to pull up,”slide out her mouth so effortlessly but so emphatically. THIS ENERGY!!


It gives me chills to see our bad girl elevate. It warms my heart to know that she is fighting for all of us, and she’s doing it her way. Rih is still cool calm and collected but she’s on the front lines, and that’s a soldier I want to be next to.


Rihanna closed her acceptance speech by thanking the NAACP, “Thank you to the NAACP for all your efforts to ensure equality for our communities. Thank you for celebrating our strength and our tenacity. We have been denied opportunities since the beginning of time and still we prevail, so I’m honored. Imagine what we could do together!"


Imagination is the ability of the mind to be creative and resourceful, so tap into your power to influence change in your life and the lives of others. There is no better time than the present to real life our dreams. We rise when we lift others up, so pull your resources and invest in us.