During a predictably leftist Academy Awards broadcast Sunday evening, one speech stood out amidst the virtue-signaling for its moving and refreshingly important message. In his acceptance speech for the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, Tyler Perry gave a powerful rebuke against hate and a plea for understanding between Americans on all sides of the ideological spectrum.
Perry opened with a memory of helping a homeless woman who asked him for shoes. Recalling his own experiences with homelessness, he brought her into the film set he was working on at the time, and gave her shoes from the costume department.
He described the situation, “She finally looks up and she’s got tears in her eyes. She says: ‘Thank you Jesus. My feet are off the ground.’ In that moment I recall her saying to me, ‘I thought you would hate me for asking’ but how could I hate you when I used to be you?”
He then connected this memory to those of his mother, her experiences growing up in the South under Jim Crow, mourning the deaths of civil rights leaders while teaching him to reject hate, a lesson he hoped all parents would impart to their children.
From there, he demonstrated the impact of her lessons with a bold series of declarations, saying: “I refuse to hate someone because they’re Mexican or because they are Black or white, or LGBTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they’re a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian. I would hope that we would refuse hate.”
The audience erupted into applause at the outset of this section. The claps and cheers began conspicuously fading the moment he mentioned police officers.
Frequently, when celebrities speak out against hate, they are preaching against some nebulous bigotry that the woke elite erroneously ascribe to all conservatives, of which they are always exempt. It must have been shocking to hear, at the Oscars no less, support for a group they desire to despise with impunity.
Calls for unity are similarly coded language asking those on the right to accept whatever extreme policy goals the left is attempting to push. Perry, who identifies as neither a Democrat nor Republican, likewise evaded this lip service to political civility by imploring the Oscars attendees and viewers at home to engage in open dialogue, meeting in the middle and attempting to understand each other.
He ended his acceptance with, “I want to take this Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and dedicate it to anyone who wants to stand in the middle, no matter what’s around the walls, stand in the middle because that’s where healing happens. That’s where conversation happens. That’s where change happens. It happens in the middle. So anyone who wants to meet me in the middle, to refuse hate, to refuse blanket judgment and to help lift someone’s feet off the ground, this one is for you, too.”