Most Americans today feel like we’re in the middle of a revolution. Each day we wake up feeling like this could be the day we finally tip over — to one side or the other. Celebrities like Jesse Williams have been doing their part to make sure when this is all over, Americans are more accepting, inclusive and educated about each other and the rest of the world. And now, 16-year-old Yara Shahidi is adding her name to the activism list.
Shahidi is the star of the sitcom Black-ish, in which she plays a teenager who is trying to figure out how to live in the world as a young, African American. Shahidi herself is half-African American and half-Iranian, so she sees part of her work’s purpose to educate people on the importance of acceptance and celebration of differences, not discrimination because of them.
Shahidi recently won an award for her philanthropy at the Points of Life Conference on Volunteering and Service, and used the time she had for an acceptance speech to drop some heavy knowledge on everyone in attendance.
The video is a must-watch, but here are the top five quotes we think you’ll want to share right now.
"It seems that many times it’s difficult for the majority culture to believe that there are biases when we speak about ethnicity, sexuality, gender, race parity. How can there be parity, or the belief that we are valued similarly, if we are still being perceived and perceiving others as a tired stereotype or as one-dimensional?"
"Good, bad or indifferent, TV helps define our collective reality. And if a child grows up never seeing themselves represented as successful or as the hero, then they are the anomaly if they succeed and the expectation if they fail."
"The purpose of the news is to highlight out of the ordinary events. Yet, if your only interaction with the Muslim faith and community is through the depiction of the heinous actions of terrorists, a natural assumption may be that Muslims equal terrorists, but wouldn’t a more plausible assumption be that some extremists become terrorists?"
"In order to lessen cultural appropriation, stereotyping and institutionalized discrimination, we must start the conversation about cultural appreciation that is inclusive of all people on all platforms."
"Art plus activism in any and all forms is a powerful statement that can spread a message that transcends the barriers and limitations of our different realities to reveal the commonality of our shared human existence."
It's clear that Shahidi only has one mission in mind, and that is to spread her message that "beneath everyone’s skin, identity, beliefs and melanin is a human trying to succeed in this crazy world."
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