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In a conversation about race with Ziwe on her self-titled series, Riley, 36, nearly dodged a question about the Funny Girl lead. "Speaking of getting down in the muck, you said that one of your famous coworkers wasn't racist," Ziwe said to Riley — referencing a 2020 Instagram Live.
In the now-expired clip, Riley told journalist Danielle Young: "I'm not going to say that Lea Michele is racist. That's not what I'm saying. That was the assumption because of what's going on right now in the world and it happened toward a Black person. I'm not going to say that she's racist."
Ziwe focused on the race aspect of the conversation and asked if Riley thought the unnamed coworker "was" racist. "Ohh, Ziwe. Umm ... next question. I don't even know how to answer that."
Riley added, "Umm ... I don't know which coworker you're talking about. I had so many."
Riley eventually addressed the question head on, without naming Michele, 36, when Ziwe rephrased the concept. "Would you say that your famous coworker doesn't see race and is in fact rude to all of her coworkers?"
"I think that she would probably say she doesn't see race," Riley responded. "But as we discussed earlier, everyone does."
Riley also addressed Ziwe's question if Glee was a "race war," which seeminging comes from complaints that Michele bullied her coworkers of color. Riley denied this concept, saying: "It would require different races. I was the only Black one."
A lengthy statement from Michele, shared with PEOPLE at the time, said, "One of the most important lessons of the last few weeks is that we need to take the time to listen and learn about other people's perspectives and any role we have played or anything we can do to help address the injustices that they face."
Another section of the apology read, "While I don't remember ever making this specific statement and I have never judged others by their background or color of their skin, that's not really the point. What matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people."
"Whether it was my privileged position and perspective that caused me to be perceived as insensitive or inappropriate at times or whether it was just my immaturity and me just being unnecessarily difficult, I apologize for my behavior and for any pain which I have caused. We all can grow and change and I have definitely used these past several months to reflect on my own shortcomings."