On Sunday, April 25, at the Academy Awards ceremony, motion picture industry mogul Tyler Perry was presented the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Upon receiving his award, Mr. Perry delivered an impassioned speech about refusing to hate.
Mr. Perry credited his mother for teaching him, as a young child, to refuse hate, to refuse making blanket judgements about people. He expressed the hope “that all of us…teach our kids [to] just refuse hate. Don’t hate anybody.”
To this end, he shared a personal story from 17 years ago of having met the request for a pair of shoes from a destitute woman. After accommodating her with shoes from his studio’s wardrobe department, she shared her thought that he might hate her for asking. Mr. Perry replied, “How can I hate you? I used to be you.”
The message was clear. For us to build a better world, we need to recognize the commonality among us and to meet people at their humanity — by definition, the quality of being human; to exhibit compassion, sympathy, and a generous disposition.
Mr. Perry closed by dedicating his award “to anyone willing to stand in the middle: that’s where healing conversation and change happens.”
If we all share the intention of creating a world without racism, then we can allow our humanity to flourish and become a community built on respect and freedom.