Yahya Abdul Mateen II: ‘Those old worn out systems are going to topple soon’

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I could wax on about how ridiculously good looking Yahya Abdul- Mateen II is, but that would take away from the talent and passion that makes up the man.

I recently wrote about Yahya’s turn as Dr. Manhattan in HBO’s Watchmen and his activism through his art. He has a new movie coming out, Jordan Peele’s Candyman remake. In his interview with GQ Middle East, Yahya say witnessing a BLM protest has energized him to advocate for justice. He’s pushing the conversation about racial injustice forward through art that makes people uncomfortable.

On seeing a BLM protest in Santa Monica in early June
I’ve never seen anything like that. 90 percent of the crowd was white. I was shocked to see a predominantly white crowd out there saying, ‘Black Lives Matter. It made me realise that white people see there’s something about the conditions Black people like me live under that are inherently wrong. The protesters had a plan, they had a cause, and they were making people uncomfortable like it’s important to.

On the impact of Watchmen
To watch people watch Watchmen and then have new, more sophisticated conversations about the importance of telling the history of the Tulsa massacre – calling it a massacre not a race riot – fills me with pride. And with what’s happened to George Floyd, there’s a domino effect: now, we don’t have the excuse to ignore that part of history or say we weren’t educated.

On white people who don’t understand BLM
I may not have access to the demographic who choose to see something like our version of Watchmen and unfollow me on Instagram because they don’t share my beliefs. They’ll see the message from me, they’ll see my work and they’ll actively reject it as leftist propaganda. This is America, so they have zero reason to listen to me. But I can talk to my white friends and wider audiences who are enlightened and inspired to then go have uncomfortable conversations with relatives and co-workers. So I’m fortunate to be a part of that progress.

It’s so important to educate myself on our history so that when a microphone is shoved in my face, I have the right things to say and am sharp when I’m speaking about these issues. Because this race is still going – we are not there yet.

On his role in The Trial of The Chicago 7
That was a very important lesson for keeping my mind sharp: learning we have the tools within ourselves to combat fears by not allowing them to penetrate our souls, and turning oppression into our strength – to become stronger than the [oppressor].

There’s a strong message about putting your own convenience second and about standing up for the rights of what the Constitution in America says we are afforded. The world is collectively saying, look, we’re holding on to old worn out ways and we need to move on. Those old worn out systems are holding on and they’re pushing back very hard but they’re going to topple soon. Soon may not be this year, but soon may be in the next 30 years.

On his career
For a lot of aspiring actors and artists around the world, America is the destination, the comparison. So to have my name at the top of the billing on my own for Candyman, right up there on Aquaman, and next to Keanu Reeves in a big production like The Matrix is huge. To be validated, to hold my own, and to go on talk shows where they say my entire name, that’s inspiring.

[From GQ Middle East]

Like Yahya, I’ve become energized by the shift in the diversity of BLM protest crowds. It gives me hope that many others are seeing how injustice for one group leads to injustice for all. The first BLM movement was mostly black youth and their parents. If felt as if their protests were falling on deaf ears, but things have changed. I’ve definitely been reading about African American and American history generally. Even though I know I’ll never have a microphone thrust in front of me, I want to make sure that every conversation that I have going forward will be accurate and honest.

I look forward to seeing any future projects featuring Yahya. Not only does he deliver excellent performances, he’s picking projects that are bound to create conversations. He could easily be JUST an actor, or be comfortable playing roles, but I love the fact that he is choosing to join a chorus of art activism. This will hopefully lead to a more equitable future for everyone

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14 Responses to “Yahya Abdul Mateen II: ‘Those old worn out systems are going to topple soon’”

  1. Atti says:

    I mean… its nice to hear. Because twitter is afull of people saying Nick Cannon is right and white people are soulless people who need to leave the planet.

    I’ve never seen Yahyas work.. but he is beautiful.

    • Athyrmose says:

      Twitter, and this white supremacist country, are full of people saying that I’m an N word, and still just 3/5 of a person.

      Give all that the same attention, Atti. Since you’re so worried about Black folks.

      Reverse racism isn’t real. And don’t think it’s gone unnoticed that you made no mention of the anti-semitism. It’s almost like you’re centering Whiteness, or something. 🤔

      • Kitten says:

        Thank you, Athyrmose, reverse racism isn’t real.

        I find victimhood and the accompanying spins, excuses and justifications less than palatable; however, it’s particularly disconcerting and offensive when it comes from someone whose whiteness has provided every imaginable privilege.

        While I welcome a diverse stand, I blame the media for focusing on white protestors instead of BLACK LIVES. This continues the dismissive, disrespectful history of black stories being “not relatable” unless they are told from a white point of view; something that’s been weaponized to censor people of colour from telling our stories, our way.

        Let’s all keep the focus: Black Lives Matter.

      • Liz version 700 says:

        Atti the point of BLM as I understand it (white woman here please correct If I am wrong and engage me I welcome that), is not to send white people to another planet. It is about allowing room on this planet for all stories to be told from all points of view. Whites have erased other players from the stories of our history and that value translates to not valuing other cultures, others needs and worst of all others lives. Sharing the pie equally doesn’t mean you don’t get pie it just means others do too.

  2. Chelsey says:

    YUM

  3. Esmom says:

    He is lovely. And while it is good to see so many white people supporting BLM, it’s disheartening to see how many are still trying with everything they’ve got to discredit it. They seem to really believe some propaganda that BLM is trying to “bring down America.” I can’t anymore. I don’t know how we will ever get past this era of disinformation and brainwashing and hate and division, fueled by the right’s determination to cling to the old ways and “worn out systems.”

    • yinyang says:

      I ‘m with you, for all the white men and women that are sensitive and alert to all the micro aggressions and injustices, I thank them, but there has been a hell of alot of white push back too. I mean look at Trump capitalizing on this. I don’t think our fight is anywhere near over. Its really just begun. For a while racism went quiet when bipoc lgbtq were willing to accept the status quo and stay at the middle or bottom. But now that we want a space at the top, these wealthy conservative christian white men are not having it, those spaces are reserved for their white sons and daughters only, white neopotism. We’ve only just begun to address systemic racism, yes now black and indignioues, lgbtq, poc have more entered the tv industry, sports, are addresseing issues like education ad poverty, but we have a long way to go to seeing them taking over fields like STEM, becoming surgeons, architects and engineers, working at nasa, creating laws, owning fortune 500 companies. Always these careers require mentorship to get into, mentorship that we need more of but lack since its mainly white men educated in these fields and they’ll pass their knowledge down to their white families only.

      The hate on twitter and facebook is too much! I still wont let my teenage daughter on news sites as there is such a stream of rightwinger. BUT all this comes with opening a new can of worms, I understand and with more interracial babies born everyday, the rise in popularity in eastern religions and ideas, and white people and black people designing systems to help everyone succeed– I know we’ll get there, but right now…it’s real bad out there and there’s no end in sight.

  4. TheOriginalMia says:

    I can’t wait for Candyman to come out and for people to lose their minds over the message behind it. It’ll be like Get Out but on a bigger, more horrifying scale. Yahya is beautiful. Just a fine ass man with a brain, who is passionate about using his platform to educate and protest.

  5. Lively says:

    I find him so freaking hot

  6. Tiffany says:

    Nia DaCosta is the director of Candyman, not Jordan Peele.

    It is time to put respect on female director’s names. Especially Black ones.

  7. Godwina says:

    Oh, sweet summerchild.

  8. Melissai says:

    Yahya’s quiet performance in Watchmen was so impactful. He anchored the story and gave Dr Manhattan a sense of humanity. Watchmen should be required viewing for its cultural impact and Regina King!

  9. Geeena says:

    Brains and beauty! It saddens me the way he wrote about the reception of Watchmen. That people see depictions of racial violence (and racial equality) in media as propaganda or extreme. That Black lives matter is a basic idea and it should be considered abnormal to believe otherwise.

    Can we send this to whomever was in charge of the lighting and direction for that recent Simone Biles Vogue shoot? Yeah, I’m still salty about that.

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