Producer Adi Shankar has penned an open letter imploring Americans of Muslim, Indian and Asian descent to peacefully resist Trumpism and the politics of division. He’s also urging his fellow entertainers to “use our canvases to create the change we wish to see in the world.”
Speaking out after the election of Donald Trump, the executive producer of Lone Survivor and A Walk Among the Tombstones said that “entertainment without meaning is now not only vapid, it is passively supporting the politics of oppression.” His fear for the industry, he said, is that come Trump’s inauguration in January, “everything will revert to business as usual,” and that minorities like himself will “become second class citizens as you move on to your next Transformers sequel.” Diversity on and behind the screen, he said, “is more important now that it has ever been.”
“Artists are supposed to be the conscious of humanity – to help us understand one another,” he told Deadline. “I’m hoping and praying that more of us will use this platform to do more of that versus enforcing the dangerous ideology of what is now the status quo.”
Shankar, who is Hindu, arrived in the U.S. when he was 16 — two days before September 11, 2001. “And because of my looks,” he said, “I was constantly viewed as the enemy.”
Here is his open letter in full:
Like you I am a member of several groups terrified at the repercussions of the rhetoric used during the election. I am a first generation immigrant who left his home for the land of the free and since 9/11 I’ve been visually indistinguishable in a TSA line up from the “terrorists.”
If you are in similar shoes this is my message to you: you may want to riot, your heart is likely filled with rage, or you may want to stay home and pray that everything going to be fine, but it is imperative that we as a community DO NOT fight back with violence or be complacent. Violence will prove the rhetoric perpetuated about us to be true and even a single act of it can and will be used to justify laws against us, and history has shown complacency can be even more dangerous.
I plan to fight back by devoting every fiber of my being to rise to the very top of my industry to ensure we have a brown face and perspective in the media. To fight back against the systemic emasculation you must do the same in your industry and if we actively and openly support one another instead of diving into camps across sub-ethnic lines we will accomplish this within the next decade.
It is our duty, even now as second class citizens, to rise, to amass influence, and to use that influence to create a new world where hate will not and cannot have power over us again. Let this not discourage you but empower you. In a climate that seeks to marginalize us, becoming a better you, while extending a helping hand to those who have also been marginalized, and carrying yourself with love and grace is the ultimate act of rebellion.
To my fellow entertainers: Our fear is that come January everything will revert to business as usual. That we become second class citizens as you move on to your next Transformers sequel. Entertainment without meaning is now not only vapid, it is passively supporting the politics of oppression. Finally, diversity on screen and behind it is more important now that it has ever been. We must actively use our canvases create the change we wish to see in the world.