Janelle Monáe Speaks On Equality & Representation at ‘Glamour’s 2018 Women Of the Year Awards
There are few artists who are having as good a year as funk songstress Janelle Monáe. In 2018, the 32-year-old singer released her highly anticipated fourth studio album, Dirty Computer, to near-universal critical acclaim. Along with seeing her music career reach a new high, Monáe also stunned the world by coming out as queer in a cover story for Rolling Stone.
So when Monáe took to the stage at Glamour’s 2018 Women of the Year Awards, she had a lot to be thankful for. What started as an affirmation of the artist’s gratitude grew into a call for support of disenfranchised communities at large. “I feel a huge responsibility to protect my brothers and sisters in the LGBTQIA+ community, to protect women, to protect black folks, to protect immigrants, to protect lower class folks like my parents who put on uniforms to protect me and my sister,” she said in her speech.
Monáe was joined at the event by a number of other notable women in the entertainment and activism industries, and was honored with an award alongside peers like Chrissy Teigen, Viola Davis, Senator Kamala Harris and many more.
The “Make Me Feel” singer remarked on the successes of her year, saying that what allowed her to make such a powerful and provocative album was her own fears about the future. “I didn’t feel good. I wrote this album in the Obama era, and then things happened after November 2016 — things happened,” she said. “It was difficult for me to [make this album] happen. But through it all, it’s been worth the blood, sweat, and tears.”
Monáe took time, though, to remind the audience that fear as healthy, as long as you’re not afraid to take action. “I am a young, black, queer woman in America. I am not afraid to piss off the power. We can do this together. I am not afraid to piss off the abuser of power in chief who reminds us daily that the freedom we have is not free—we have to fight for it.”
The singer closed her speech, saying that with more women everywhere getting involved, the future looked bright. “We as Americans, women, as sisters—we now have an opportunity to join together to turn the volume up on love,” she said, before closing with a line she previously used at the 2018 Grammys: “I like to close by saying: I come in peace, but I mean business.”
Read Janelle Monáe’s full speech from Glamour’s 2018 Women of the Year Awards here.