Photo by Geoff Livingston via Flickr
In the wake of President Trump’s refugee immigration ban, Moonlight Actor, Mahershala Ali delivered an impassioned speech about religious persecution and empathy at the 27th annual Screen Actor’s Guild Awards.
Ali stated, “I think what I’ve learned from working on “Moonlight” is we see what happens when you persecute people. They fold into themselves. And what I was so grateful about in having the opportunity to play Juan was playing a gentleman who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community and taking that opportunity to uplift him and to tell him he mattered, that he was OK, and accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that.
We kind of get caught up in the minutiae and the details that make us all different, I think there’s two ways of seeing that. There’s an opportunity to see the texture of that person, the characteristics that make them unique, and then there’s the opportunity to go to war about it, and to say that that person is different than me and I don’t like you, so let’s battle.”
Mahershala Ali also mentioned his personal experience as a Black Muslim.
“My mother is an ordained minister. I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago. But I tell you now ― you put things to the side, and I’m able to see her and she’s able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown. And that stuff is minutiae. It’s not that important.”
Other actors made use of their SAG acceptance speech platforms to criticize Trump’s controversial executive order by urging viewers to resist exclusivity and to promote tolerance, acceptance, and community.
David K. Harbour of Stranger Things fervidly stated, “We will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts; those who have no home. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monster. And when we are lost amidst the hypocrisy and casual violence of certain individuals and institutions … we will punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the weak and the disenfranchised and the marginalized. And we will do it all with soul and with heart and with joy.”
Harbour’s “punch some people in the face” was a nod to alt-right, neo-Nazi extremist Richard Spencer’s Inauguration Day interview. Shortly after Spencer denied affiliations with neo-Nazism, a passerby punched Spencer in the face.
The Richard Spencer interview has since then gone viral. And although Spencer has yet to file a police report, he responded to the incident by saying “It was absolutely terrible. I’ve certain never had this happen before — a sucker punch in broad daylight.”
From the U.S to the U.K, opposers of Trump’s Muslim ban continue to express their outrage through political protests.
In response to these political demonstrations, President Trump urged the immigration ban is not founded on religious discrimination but rather, a measure to ensure safety in America.
He stated, “this is not about religion. This is about terror and keeping our country safe.”
However, facts prove otherwise. The seven countries targeted by Trump’s Immigration Ban are predominantly Muslim. The seven countries targeted have committed zero terrorist attacks in the United States from 1975-2015.
Corporations also expressed solidarity against the ‘Muslim ban.’ Nike CEO asserted the executive order is a “threat” to his company’s values. Starbucks proclaimed it will hire 10,000 refugees over the next 5 years. Even Goldman Sach’s CEO announced a problem in its exclusivity. Lloyd Blankfein stated, “Being diverse is not optional.”