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What is Hollywood, anyway?

It’s just a bunch of different places… Viola [Davis] was born in a sharecroppers cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Amy Adams was born in Vicenzia, Italy, and Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem.

Where are their birth certificates?

And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and was raised in Ireland, I do believe, and she’s here nominated—for playing a small-town girl from Virginia. Ryan Gosling, like all the nicest people is Canadian. And Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, is here playing an Indian, raised in Tasmania.

So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if you kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing else to watch but football and mixed martial arts…

As an actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like, and there were many, many, many powerful performances that did exactly that—breathtaking, compassionate work.

But there was one performances this year that stunned me; it sank its hooks in my heart, not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job—it made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.

It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter—someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie; it was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.

Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

— 

Meryl Streep, accepting the Cecile B. DeMille Award at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards Ceremony.

American culture–its sports, its music, its cinema–is in no small part the fruits of the labor of immigrants and people of color. From jazz to hip-hop, from the NBA to the Fast & Furious franchise, to name just a few–these are not only what makes America great for Americans, but also what makes America great for people all over the world. Americans who disrespect, denounce their country’s diversity–by supporting racism, homophobia, and xenophobia by their actions or their vote–are essentially spitting in their own faces. It’s a concept some people understand. But in light of November 9, 2016, it’s apparent that there’s too many people who don’t grasp, or actively reject, this idea.

It’s the New Year, which invites resolutions: Support diversity. Fight racism. Demand truth. Advocate for human rights in all its forms. Donate to the ACLU, the NAACP, the EDF and EarthJustice, Planned Parenthood, ProPublica, etc. Flag fake news on social media and be louder, sharper than the trolls. Email and call–calling is better–your Congressmen on specific bills. Volunteer to tutor English or otherwise assist immigrants on their journey to citizenship. Be selective about which businesses to support (e.g. Ben & Jerry’s) and which one to boycott (e.g. anything Trump). Subscribe to The New York Times or another publication with journalistic integrity. Vote more than once every four years.

And of course, take care of yourself and enjoy the arts–or football or MMA, those are good too. Do this in 2017. In 2018. In 2019. In 2020.