Tyler Perry says, “We must never give up.”
In a new essay for People, the entertainment mogul opens up about George Floyd and the discrimination he has faced at the hands of police.
“When I was asked to write this essay, I initially said no, and that is so strange for me because I’m a man of faith, and I believe greatly in hope,” Perry writes. “It was simply because I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted from all the hate and the division, the vitriol that I see online from one to another. I’m exhausted from seeing these kinds of senseless murders play out over and over again with nothing changing in our society.”
Talking about the death of Floyd, Perry says, “The level of racism and brutality that George Floyd faced is something that we as black people know all too well. When I saw that video, I had so many raw, guttural emotions. I felt for him and his family. I felt for all of us as black people. I felt for my five-year-old son.”
Perry then shared his own personal experience with the police over the course of his life.
“From as far back as I can remember, growing up in New Orleans, which in the ‘70s and ‘80s had one of the most corrupt police departments in the country, it brought back memories of walking to high school being stopped and frisked or later walking to work in the French Quarter and being made to lie facedown on the ground while they searched me for no reason at all,” he writes. “Or all the times I had to keep my hands on the hood of a hot police car in the middle of the Louisiana heat, almost burning them, while I was searched simply because I was black in a white neighbourhood.”
He continues, “It brought back the pain of 2012 when I was leaving my studio preparing for a visit from the sitting President at the time, Barack Obama, when I was pulled over by two white officers in a situation that quickly could have gotten out of hand. I could have been a hashtag simply because I was driving a nice car.”
Perry also talks about how he teaches his son about racism.
“Looking at his young face, I often ask myself how to broach this conversation: How will I explain that even though Mr. Rogers once said, ‘Look for the helpers,’ sometimes those very helpers will judge his skin before they recognize his humanity,” he says. “I know that as his father, a black man in America, it is my duty to prepare him for the harsh reality that awaits him outside of the watchful eyes of his loving parents. It will be a hard, heartbreaking conversation, but one that I must have and will have soon[…]”
Perry adds, “I will explain to him that because we are only 12 to 14 per cent of the population, this fight will continue to be a long and arduous one, but I will tell him with pride to never give up. I will tell him that progress is made in small steps, and even if you get exhausted to fight on, because there are always signs of daybreak before the morning comes[…] It is my hope that we continue these hard conversations out of respective corners to talk to each other but most of all to hear each other so that this mourning in America will give way to morning in America.”