Don Cheadle Explains Why Returning to Normal Would Be a "Step Back"

Don Cheadle American Film Institute Award Gala - Getty - H 2019
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

The 'Black Monday' star also spoke to Conan O'Brien about how Hollywood stars can amplify other people's voices in conversations about race and diversity.

Don Cheadle said that after weeks of anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests amid the COVID-19 pandemic, America can't afford to return its pre-coronavirus state.

"I think a return to what is normal is actually a step back," the Black Monday star shared on Monday's Conan. "It won't be just a return, it'll be a complete reset to something that I don't think we can afford to do as a community."

Cheadle shared his thoughts about returning to normal after he and Conan O'Brien began speaking about the hundreds of daily Black Lives Matter protests that continue to occur nationwide following the murder of George Floyd in May. From the first marches in early June to those currently transpiring in cities including Los Angeles and Portland, protesters have called for defunding police departments and accountability from law-enforcement officials.

The Oscar nominee, who has had his own negative experiences with police officers, shared that conversations about police brutality and the Black community's relationship with law enforcement are familiar for his family. The COVID-19 pandemic, he said, along with high-profile, racially charged incidents prior to Floyd's death, created this "boiling point." 

Cheadle also talked about the role stars like himself and O'Brien have in amplifying other people's voices as conversations about diversity and inclusion continue.

"I think a lot of times what [progress] requires is for us to kind of step out of the way and use that power we have as producers, as people behind the cameras as well as in front of the camera to push it on that end and make sure the non-centered voices get centered, make sure that the people who are not seen get to the front," he said.

Cheadle himself uses his various social media platforms to inform fans. Through his Twitter and Instagram accounts he has encouraged followers to register to vote, highlighted groups supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and more.

"A lot of times, our best work is done when we step out of the way," he said. "We get the attention and then we shift the light, shift the focus."

Watch the interview below.