Mahershala Ali’s moving speech

Sarah Posted by Sarah at January 30, 2017 12:52:23 January 30, 2017 12:52:23

Describing something as “moving” always feels a little bit like Emma Woodhouse dropping an “elegant”—a blank descriptor to be used when you can’t think of anything truly nice to say. But Mahershala Ali’s speech at the SAG Awards IS moving—he’s visibly emotional, speaking from the heart, and speaking to the serious f*cking division in my country right now. “We see what happens when you persecute people,” he says. “They fold into themselves.” And a little later, speaking about the differences that can divide us, if we choose to let them, he says: “That stuff is minutiae. It’s not that important.”

It doesn’t feel like minutiae at the moment, with another round of enthusiastic demonstrations erupting across the US because of religious persecution, and an entire community under attack because of their beliefs. But that gives Ali’s words even more weight in this moment, for he speaks not only as a black man but as a Muslim, the target of such hateful policy-making.

His minister mom “didn’t do backflips” when he told her he converted, but they were able to put that difference aside. We don’t all have to be the same and we don’t all have to agree, but we should still be able to have compassion for one another. As Ali says, our differences should be celebrated and not allowed to overwhelm our shared humanity. On a shallower note, he looks handsome as hell in that white tuxedo.


Wenn, Frazer Harrison/ Steve Granitz/ Alberto E. Rodriguez/ Christopher Polk/ Kevork Djansezian/ Kevin Mazur/ Getty Images

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