Tyler Perry has always been a trailblazer for the Black community, and now he’s speaking out in a powerful new video that addresses George Floyd's killing.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died on Memorial Day shortly after being arrested for a non-violent act in Minneapolis. Video of the arrest shows white police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds as Floyd says he can’t breathe and pleads for help. Chauvin and the other three officers involved have been fired, arrested, and are facing charges in Floyd's death.
In a video essay posted on People.com, Tyler speaks for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the same amount of time Chauvin had his knee on Floyd's neck, saying, “I’m exhausted, I’m exhausted from all the hate… I’m exhausted from seeing these kinds of senseless murders play out over and over again and nothing changing in our society.”
He said of Floyd, “The level of racism and brutality that George Floyd faced is something that we as Black people know all too well. When I saw that video I had so many raw and guttural emotions… as I watched with tears in my eyes it brought back a flood of years of emotions, carrying what feels like the weight of racism on my neck.”
Perry recalled his own encounters with the police, saying he was stopped in 2012 as he was preparing for a meeting with President Obama.
“I was pulled over by two white police officers in a situation that quickly could've gotten out of hand and I could have become a hashtag simply because I was driving a nice car,” he said.
The movie mogul is the father of 5-year-old Aman with girlfriend Gelila Bekele. Perry asked, “How long can I protect him from the cruelness of this world? How long can he hold on to the same innocence that allows him to describe all of his friends at school to me but never mention race? It is a beautiful thing.”
Perry added, “I know that as a father, a black man in America, it is my duty to prepare him for the harsh reality that awaits him outside of the watchful eyes of his loving parents. It will be a hard, heartbreaking conversation but one that I must have and I am going to have soon.”
He insisted, “Even if you get exhausted like me you’ve got to fight on, you’ve got to fight on, because there are always signs of daybreak before the morning comes.”
The 50-year-old recently confirmed to 11Alive he will pay for Rayshard Brooks’ funeral and the college tuitions of his four children. Brooks, 27, was recently killed by an Atlanta police officer at a Wendy’s drive-thru.
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, officers found Brooks asleep in his car, which was parked in the drive-thru. After Brooks failed a sobriety test, police attempted to arrest him, but he “resisted and a struggle ensued.”
The statement continued, “The officer deployed a Taser. Witnesses report that during the struggle the male subject grabbed and was in possession of the Taser. It has also been reported that the male subject was shot by an officer in the struggle over the Taser.”
Officer Garrett Rolfe, who shot Brooks, was fired. On Wednesday, he was charged with 11 counts in Brooks' death, including felony murder and aggravated assault.