Riz Ahmed was one of the speakers at the CAA hosted three-day Amplify leadership summit. He discussed Muslim representation in Hollywood and his daily fight against discrimination, including the reason why he was unable to attend Star Wars Celebration Chicago in April.
The Night Of star led the Amplify afternoon session with a passionate speech about Muslim representation in Hollywood and his daily fight against discrimination.
Minhaj brought Ahmed onto the stage, joking that he “can’t tell you how flattered I am to be mistaken for you on a daily basis.”
On a more serious note, Ahmed discussed how for 15 years he’s been consistently stopped, searched and interviews at airports because of his race, and just last month, was headed to a Star Wars convention in Chicago when Homeland Security stopped him from boarding the plane.
Pointing to Minhaj, he said “He can win a Peabody, I can win an Emmy, Ibtihaj Muhammad can go to the Olympics, but some of these obstacles are systemic and we can’t really face them alone, we need your help. I’m basically here to ask for your help, because it’s really scary to be a Muslim right now, super scary. I’ve often wondered, is this going to be the year when they round us up, if this is going to be the year they put Trump’s registry into action. If this is going to be the year they ship us all off.”
Adding that the easiest way to win elections today is with Islamophobia, Ahmed called for improvement in how Muslims are represented, starting with research and data, creating a framework, and building institutions that people like he and Minhaj can support.
“How I do what I do is because like all of you here, I’m a code-switcher,” he said in closing. “We all know how to change the way we talk, the way we dress, the way we walk as we enter one room or another. We all know how to navigate terrain that isn’t of our own making. That’s how I can do it, but that’s not why I do what I do. The why is because I don’t want to have to code-switch anymore.”