'I refuse to hate a police officer': Tyler Perry's challenging speech showed true humanity
via ABC / YouTube

The Academy Awards is an evening for honoring the best achievements in film. But it's also an event where the film industry unabashedly professes its progressive views to the world.

The nice thing about last night was that, for once, Hollywood's talk about being inclusive was actually on display. The broadcast featured a diverse group of attendees and winners, putting to bed the #OscarsSoWhite critiques of the past six years, for now, at least.

Depending on where one stands on the political spectrum, Sunday's broadcast was either an exhilarating night of celebrating progressive views or three hours of virtue signaling from some of the country's richest and most powerful people.


However, there was a beautiful moment in the broadcast that everyone should appreciate. After being awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 93rd Oscars, Tyler Perry gave a speech about unity that cut through America's political divide and got to the heart of what real humanity is about.

Tyler Perry Accepts the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award www.youtube.com

Perry was given the award for a lifetime of charitable work, including the time he paid for people's groceries during the pandemic.

"Tyler knows what it is to be hungry, to be without a home, to feel unsafe and uncertain. So when he buys groceries for 1,000 of his neighbors, supports a women's shelter, or quietly pays tuition for a hard-working student, Tyler is coming from a place of shared experience," presenter Viola Davis said.

In his speech, Perry's main theme was refusing hate. A tough ask in a time when the country is so politically polarized.

"And in this time, with all of the internet and social media and algorithms and everything that wants us to think a certain way, the 24-hour news cycle…it is my hope that all of us would teach our kids, and I want to remember: just refuse hate. Don't hate anybody," Perry said.

"I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian. I would hope we would refuse hate," he said.

Perry urged people to meet in "the middle'' a place without hatred or judgment. "That's where healing happens, that's where conversation happens, that's where change happens – it happens in the middle," Perry said. "Anyone who wants to meet me to meet me in the middle to refuse hate and blanket judgment and lift someone's feet off the ground, this one is for you, too."

At first glance, asking people to come together in the middle doesn't appear to be that original of a statement. But at a time when many have drawn up sides, choosing to be vulnerable, step out in the middle, and reach out to listen, is a pretty bold move.

That doesn't mean to forget about one's values. It means to be willing to have a conversation and find our shared humanity. This type of action is more important than ever when, as Perry noted, people are stuck in ideological bubbles and may not even understand what the other side is saying.

Perry proved just how brave you have to be to walk towards the middle when he said he refuses to hate someone because they're a police officer. After that line, the applause he earned seemed to die down a bit. Was it a signal that his statement made a few people a little uncomfortable?

But change happens when we leave our comfort zone.



Perry's words were powerful at a time when the nation is reeling from police violence. He challenged the notion that, as a Black man, he has to hate the police.

When, in fact, Perry appears to be standing with the vast majority of Black people (81%) who want the police to spend the same, or more, time in their neighborhoods. The important point is that a vast majority of Black (91%) also want the police to be held to higher standards of behavior and accountability.

Perry further explained why he gave his speech in a post-award interview.

"Just where we are in the country and the world, and everybody is grabbing a corner and a color, and they are all – nobody wants to come to the middle to have a conversation," he said.

"Everybody is polarized, and it's in the middle where things change," he added. "So I'm hoping that that inspires people to meet us in the middle so that we can get back to some semblance of normal. As this pandemic is over, we can get to a place where we are showing love and kindness to each other again."

Perry's speech was challenging, uplifting and, ultimately, a practical way of seeing the world that allows us to all move forward. It's also a wonderful example of why he's seen as a humanitarian.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."