Tyler Perry was honored by Civil Rights Activist Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network this past Wednesday. According to The Washington Post, Sharpton lashed out at the critics of the highest-earning man in Hollywood, calling them "proper negroes" "who don't really understand regular black folk". Sharpton praised Perry for providing work to under appreciated actors in Hollywood and for creating his own empire.
Sharpton was quoted saying, "This man never apologized for who we were, the ultimate pride is where you don’t have to bend and adjust for others to accept you. ... He didn’t go mainstream, he brought mainstream to us.”
While accepting the honors, Perry had some words for those who argue his works reinforce stereotypes of the black community:
“When you start out and you’re doing things and you’re trying to do the right things, and you find these attacks happening, and you try and figure out, ‘How do you handle this? How do you deal with this? How do you go there?’ So to have someone like you who has done all that you have done and have inspired and encouraged and fought for so many people, to stand here and to give me this award, this is really, really awesome."
"I stayed with who we are, and what I wish I could get us to understand as a people is that instead of getting your education and running from us, you need to ground and root yourself in who we are. Every other culture in this country knows the value of us as black people but we don’t know it ourselves. Somebody said to me about the ‘House of Payne,’ ‘Why do you have fat black people on television?’ Because there are fat black people in the world. It’s not a stereotype. This is who we are, we need to stop running from our parents and our grandparents and our uncles, we need to stop running from them and embrace them.”
Perry acknowledged his character Madea was silly, but continued to emphasize his films carry important messages. He considers himself the "ear of the people" and his work a God given gift, which he refuses to walk away from "because somebody out there, a few people out there, have a problem with it.”
There you have it folks.
Don't shoot the messenger. TGIF! :-)