Brad Pitt was seen at the Black Lives Matter protest in LA on Sunday. The Daily Mail has exclusive rights to the photo that was taken by another protester.
“Protester Aree Khodai, 42, said she saw the star riding with the crowds.
'The amount of people there was amazing. We saw Brad was on his bike not long after the protest started around 4pm,' the yoga instructor explained.
'There was moments of walking and then we would stop and we saw him turning his bike around at Hollywood and Highland.
'He was on his bike the entire time and was wearing a George Floyd hoodie.
'He was there for the right reasons, he wasn't trying to draw attention to himself. He seemed into it and seemed inspired, it was so beautiful of him to be there.'
'Every time the march stopped he tried to listen in to what speakers were saying.
'At one point he had his mask off and was smiling, he seemed very happy and you knew instantly it was Brad from his smile.”
The fact that he stayed on his bike through the protest is… a mood. But there’s some other Brad-adjacent news. Because for months there’s been speculation about him and Alia Shawkat and whether or not they’re dating. The headline today about Alia Shawkat however isn’t a good look.
Alia was at SXSW in 2016 and said the n-word during a discussion. Video of the incident is here. She’s now apologising:
As Vulture’s Zoe Haylock writes:
“So, if we were to put this on the spectrum of celebrity N-words, it would be somewhere between Gina Rodriguez “rapping” it on Instagram and Viggo Mortenson going hard-R at a Green Book screening.”
As people have pointed out on Twitter, 2016 isn’t that long ago. And Alia was in her 20s. Whether or not you decide to cancel her, as many are doing, is up to you. My takeaway here is the casual use of the word even when it’s not meant maliciously. When it’s used the way you might use “bro” or “hey girl” – and while you may not have heard it before in your circles, this is happening in younger demographics, white kids throwing it around while they’re hanging out, like on a Tuesday. Their mistaken justification for it is that they hear it in the music they listen to by Black artists and that speaks to consumption of Black art by non-Black people, and the co-opting of Black culture for its cool factor without appreciation for the Black lived experience.
While I have never used the n-word casually, and many of you may say the same, we do all engage with Black art, we do all borrow from it, consciously or unconsciously, in the ways we express ourselves, in the way I have expressed myself here, from fashion to language to GIFs. Think of how much cultural colloquial vocabulary comes from the Black community – recent examples include “lit”, “snatched”, “shady”, “flex”, “tea”, and phrasing that’s become commonplace and permanent in our language like “chill”, “dope”, “extra” – all of this comes from the creativity of Black minds. And they’re almost never credited for it.
So yes, of course, call out people like Alia for their irresponsible use of the most egregious words, but at the same time, let’s all consider how much we owe to the Black community for what they’ve given to us and for little we’ve given back in respect, appreciation, and credit. Because while the immediate urgency of Black Lives Matter is to prevent more senseless killings of Black people, the broader focus of BLM is Black dignity in all forms, and all of this is related. We can’t say that we honour Black humanity if we are erasing their contributions in all aspects of our lives.
As for Brad and Alia, I got a note today that there’s some video floating around of them holding hands but it got removed? The message wasn’t clear, and I certainly didn’t see it, and I’m not even sure if it actually exists, but given the reason why Alia is making news right now, it’ll be interesting to see going forward whether or not the Brad and Alia connection takes a backseat.