Just hours after Lizzo was hit with a second lawsuit with claims of creating a hostile work environment, the star accepted the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award at the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) gala in Los Angeles.
After skipping the red carpet portion of the evening, Lizzo took the stage at the Beverly Hilton hotel following an introduction by a group of her Big Grrrl dancers. Wiping away tears, she told the crowd, “I really needed this right now. God’s timing is on time.”
“I didn’t write a speech because I don’t know what to say in times like these,” Lizzo continued, thanking BMAC for the honor and noting that this award was different than others she has won because “humanitarianism in its nature is thankless, it’s selfless. To be kind to someone isn’t a talent; everyone can do it, it’s a gift that you give.” She emphasized the work that full-time humanitarians do every day that doesn’t get recognition, “and because of that, I’ve dedicated my life, and I’ve decided to share my platform, to shine a light on those people because I so badly want to live in a world where we award goodness with our attention.”
After shouting out the Black-led organizations to which she gave a $250,000 donation earlier this year, Lizzo noted she wanted to say one more thing. “It’s easy to do the right thing when everybody’s watching you, and it’s what you do in those moments where nobody’s watching that defines who you are,” she said. “And I’m going to continue to be who I am, no matter who’s watching. I’m going to continue to shine a light on the people who are helping people because they deserve it. I’m going to continue to amplify the voices of marginalized people because I have a microphone and I know how to use it. And I’m going to continue to put on and represent and create safe spaces for Black, fat women because that’s what the fuck I do. It is my purpose and it is an honor.”
Earlier Thursday, the singer’s former tour stylist filed a lawsuit accusing Lizzo and supervisors of Big Grrrl Big Touring of sexual and racial harassment, disability discrimination, retaliation and assault. It builds upon previous allegations, filed in August, from a trio of former tour dancers suing Lizzo for claims of interrogating them about their weight and pressuring them to engage in sexually explicit acts at sex shows.
At the event, a large group of Lizzo’s dancers presented her with the Humanitarian award, with several declaring their love for her and one noting that “she was the first person to ever believe in us and show us love and believe in our talent and our craft and we thank you so much for that.”
The event, hosted by Kenny Burns, also honored Keke Palmer, Jermaine Dupri, Sylvia Rhone, Jesse Collins, Dr. Menna Demessie, Jason Flom, Trae tha Truth, Tariq Cherif and Matt Zingler during the three-hour ceremony. The third annual gala recognized individuals and organizations that have affected positive change and helped improve equity within the community.
Palmer was presented with the BMAC Social Impact Award by two of her sisters, and spoke about how her love for entertainment comes from wanting to uplift her family and her community.
“Very early on I recognized the impact that I could have through the arts and how I could make people feel and move people. As I got older, my parents really introduced me to the likings of Muhammad Ali, Ossie Davis, Eartha Kitt — people that really used their platform and the opportunity of being in the public eye to shine a light on the things that matter to them, and most importantly, us as Black people, how we can represent one another and encourage one another to the best of our ability,” Palmer said. “For me, what you see of me — whether you love it or you hate it or whatever it is — it’s truly coming from my heart, you guys. I truly do try my best, as a millennial, as a young woman in this world, as a mother now. I’m doing the very best I can from my truest heart, and I just want everybody to be able to have joy and have freedom to be theirselves in this world, because we only get one life. We all deserve to live it and have a good time.”