Academy Award-winner Natalie Portman is speaking out this week to throw her support behind the “defund the police” movement, saying that she was scared by the concept until she checked her own “white privilege.”
Portman took to Instagram on Monday to urge her fans to also support efforts to defund police departments around the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota last month.
“When I first heard #defundthepolice, I have to admit my first reaction was fear. My whole life, police have made me feel safe. But that’s exactly the center of my white privilege,” the “Black Swan” star wrote. “The police make me as a white woman feel safe, while my black friends, family and neighbors feel the opposite: police make them feel terror.”
Portman then backed up this claim by dubiously stating that police are the sixth leading cause of death of black men in America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) appears to disagree, however, as it lists the top six causes of death for black men in the United States as being heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, homicide, stroke, and diabetes.
Undeterred by this, Portman went on to claim that black men dying in altercations with police “are not isolated incidents. They are patterns and part of the system of over-policing of black Americans.” A study carried out by Harvard University contradicts this claim as well, though, as it found no evidence of racial bias when looking at 1,000 shootings in ten police departments in California, Florida, and Texas. “On the most extreme use of force – officer-involved shootings – we are unable to detect any racial differences in either the raw data or when accounting for controls,” the Harvard researchers concluded.
Portman did not let this sink in either, as she was not about to let something like facts throw her off from calling for police departments to be defunded. “I’ve gotten to the age in my life, where if my gut feels uncomfortable, I take the situation as wrong,” the 39-year-old wrote. “But this concept initially made me uncomfortable because I was wrong. Because the system that makes me feel comfortable is wrong.”
This comes after Portman was one of many celebrities who signed an open letter calling for local governments to defund their police departments. Unlike the rest of us, Portman will surely be able to hire her own private security should police departments disappear, which makes it all too easy for her to support the movement that won’t impact her and her family in any way.