Yara Shahidi Talks Black Lives Matter Movement, Says ‘The Greatest Skill Of Having A Platform Is Handing Over The Mic’

Yara Shahidi discusses the Black Lives Matter movement, the “double-edge sword” of people speaking up and more in a new interview with Elle magazine.

Shahidi, who is best known for playing Zoey, the eldest daughter on the series “Black-ish”, as well as its spin-off, “Grown-ish”, says of being raised to be socially minded: “This idea of consistently being of service to the world around you is a dialogue that we were raised with, starting with grandparents on both sides of my family and then into the conversations in our household.”

“I’m beyond grateful that our house has been consistently a place of conversation and a place of action since I was young.”

Credit: Afshin Shahidi (Yara’s father)
Credit: Afshin Shahidi (Yara’s father)

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The actress adds of the “double-edge sword” of speaking up and the importance of handing over the mic: “When I’m looking at this moment at large, there is this kind of double-edged sword of wanting people to speak up and then [thinking that they’re] not speaking up the right way. It’s something that I’m personally even conflicted about.”

“In this moment, for example, I think a lot of the work that I’m hoping to do is about pointing people toward the organizers and the people on the front lines of this movement, because they have the most prescient, most real, most necessary voices. The greatest skill about having a platform, I think, is handing over the mic,” she continues.

Shahidi also talks about reclaiming Black joy and what that means to her: “Mentorship. When I think of fashion, for example, I’m grateful to be in a community. My stylist, Jason Bolden, has always prioritized what it means to support Black people in the fashion industry.”

“We’ve consistently been in conversations about how to use this space for something that’s powerful. Who are we bringing into these moments? Who can we open doors for? Who can we be in community with? Joy comes from being able to consistently embrace our sense of community and revel in our culture year-round. We must believe that there is something that we’re fighting for in order to keep fighting.”

Credit: Afshin Shahidi (Yara’s father)
Credit: Afshin Shahidi (Yara’s father)

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She shares of reconstructing what the future looks like: “Society tries to take away our ability to imagine, it takes away our ability to participate in a larger collective and nuanced Black imaginary world, because we are consistently burdened with the task of dealing with our reality.”

“There’s very little space to participate in something that is unknown, because there’s so much to handle in our present. We need this imagination and creative force to completely reconstruct our reality. To not only destroy, but to completely reconstruct what the future looks like.”

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