Tyler Perry gave a memorable speech during the Oscars ceremony Sunday night, he made a passionate plea for unity and asked people to “refuse hate.”
The billionaire filmmaker, 51, received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his work feeding and helping others during the pandemic.
Tyler Perry said, “How can I hate you when I used to be you?” That is the question Tyler Perry asked 20 years ago when a homeless woman walking alongside him asked him not for money or for food, but for a pair of shoes.
Tyler Perry accepted the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from Viola Davis and said, “I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are Black or white or LBGTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian.”
“Tyler knows what it is to be hungry, to be without a home, to feel unsafe and uncertain,” said Davis. “So when he buys groceries for 1,000 of his neighbors, supports a woman’s shelter, or quietly pays tuition for a hard-working student, Tyler is coming from a place of shared experience.”
Tyler Perry accepts Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award “I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are Black or white or LBGTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian.” pic.twitter.com/FjpTaYhKUu
— ABC News (@ABC) April 26, 2021
Perry said that he was motivated to do good from that conversation he had with the homeless woman 17 years ago. He first noticed her, standing near his film studio, and reached in his pocket to hand her some cash. But she stopped him and instead asked for shoes. So he took her to the wardrobe area and gave her a pair of brand new shoes.
He said the woman looked down and said, “Thank you, Jesus, my feet are off the ground.” The woman then told Perry that now he must be hating her. But because of his own struggle and fight to get to where he is now, Perry was taken aback by her suggestion.
He asked Americans to reject the divisiveness and unite. “In this time, with all the internet and social media and algorithms and everything that wants us to think a certain way — the 24-hour news cycle — it is my hope that all of us will teach our kids, and not only remember, but just refuse hate,” Perry said. “Don’t hate anybody.”
“I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are black or white or LGBTQ,” he continued. “I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian. I would hope we would refuse hate.”
Perry then declared, dedicating the Oscar to anyone willing to “stand in the middle” with him adding, “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.”