Last night, Tyler Perry received the Ultimate Icon Award at the BET Awards. He gave a powerful speech that took many people to church but it was a mention of “Oscars So White” that had some people giving him the side-eye.
The 49-year-old told a story about when he was kid a he helped a man cross the street at a six-lane intersection, “I helped him cross the street… we became good friends, his name was Mister Butler. That moment reminded me of my mother, bringing her out of her pain with laughter, helping her cross.”
He went into his impact in Hollywood, “When I started hiring people like Taraji, Viola Davis and Idris Elba, they couldn’t get jobs in this town, but God blessed me to be in a position to be able to hire them. I was trying to help somebody cross.”
He continued, “When I built my studio, I built it in a neighborhood that is one of the poorest Black neighborhoods in Atlanta so that young Black kids could see that a Black man did that, and they can do it too. I was trying to help somebody cross. The studio was once a Confederate Army base, which meant that there was Confederate soldiers on that base, plotting and planning on how to keep 3.9 million Negroes enslaved. Now that land is owned by one Negro.”
The audience rose to its feet as he continued, “It’s all about trying to help somebody cross. While everybody else was fighting for a seat at the table, talking about ‘#OscarsSoWhite, #OscarsSoWhite,’ I said, ‘Y’all go ahead and do that. While you’re fighting for a seat at the table, I’ll be down in Atlanta building my own.’ Because what I know for sure is that if I could just build this table, God will prepare it for me in the presence of my enemies,” he stated.
Perry ended by saying about the Ultimate Icon Award, “Rather than being an icon, I want to be an inspiration. I want you to hear this, every dreamer in this room. There are people whose lives are tied into your dream. Own your stuff, own your business, own your way.” See the clip below:
Oscars So White by social media personality April Reign in 2016, which did help the Academy to change rules so there was more diversity. Black Lives Matter co-founded Alicia Garza wrote, “Ahem. You love Black women but you use your platform to shade a Black woman? K.”
When someone said April Reign would write an “angry think piece” about Perry’s comments, she wrote, “I’m really not.”
See the other reactions below.