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Kerry Washington Expressed Her Excitement Over Activism Without Falling Into the Susan Sarandon Trap

Kerry Washington

If you’re looking for a silver lining in this current political dystopian hellscape, the sense of activism that’s swept the country is undeniably powerful. From the number of people showing up to town hall meetings to the phone calls overwhelming lawmakers’ offices, people are speaking up like never before.

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In an interview with Glamour, Kerry Washington spoke about the connectedness and the fire so many of us are feeling right now.

I’m not sure how it’s changing me yet. That idea of holding each other’s hands at the Women’s March—it feels like we are being invited to do that every day. So many of us are feeling attacked, whether it’s a woman’s right to choose or headstones in a Jewish cemetery, immigrants being deported or banned. So many of us feel the need to protect and defend our democracy. And march toward the dream of being “We the people.” So that’s exciting, scary, and frustrating. We’re awake. We are awake more than ever before, and we have to stay awake.

She followed up that idea by addressing what she thinks needs to be done to keep that awakened state moving forward.

Can I say one more thing? For democracy to work, everybody has to have a voice. It’s not about demonizing other voices. It’s important that there be real conversations across the aisle. There are people on the opposite end of the political spectrum who think that I’m part of a left-wing propaganda machine. It makes me sad that people would think that, because I believe for democracy to work, there has to be diversity of thought.

Does all this talk of how exciting it is to see so many people “awake” sound familiar? Does it maybe remind you of someone else who has recently been making the interview rounds, talking about some sort of vague revolution?

Kerry Washington’s statement sounds like someone rewrote the message Susan Sarandon’s been repeating, but in a way that actually inspires, or at the very least, isn’t offensively obtuse.

What exactly is the difference between what the two have to say? Well, for starters, where Washington celebrates the drive and connectedness of this awakened populace, Sarandon seems to celebrate the divide that created it. In every interview, Sarandon stands by her Bernie-or-Bust mentality, criticizing and blaming anyone who didn’t focus 100% of their attention on the few specific causes she cares the most about.

Similarly, Kerry Washington’s quote focuses on the actual fears that are driving people to be active, paying respect to them as humans and individuals. Sarandon, on the other hand, frames the very real dangers of a Trump presidency as a fair trade for how “energized” people are. Her celebration of “revolution” dismisses the reality of those dangers if she herself isn’t directly affected by them.

Kerry Washington in no way implies that people weren’t aware and awake before. Her emphasis seems to be on where we can go from here. Sarandon, on the other hand, reeks of condescension, assuming the world–most of which faces risks Sarandon could never, and definitely would never, imagine–needed Trump to open their eyes to the patronizing Plato’s cave she thinks we plebs have been living in.

There’s an ever-prevalent and ultra-trite notion that any situation involving two women is automatically a zero-sum game. That one woman must be a winner and the other has to lose. This is not that. In this case, Kerry Washington showed us what we wish Sarandon had been saying all along. So while we weren’t looking for a winner, I suppose we found one.

(via Glamour, image: Shutterstock)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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