You Can Kiss Black People and Still Be Racist
Black History Month fun fact #4000
In the year that has been host one of the worst Black History Months I can remember, the discussion around Liam Neeson’s racist interview continues to gain traction because Neeson’s famous friends have come out to say the man is not racist for a number of reasons. As I’ve said before, Neeson’s story was not only unnecessary, but his inability to call his racism what it was tells me there is work still to be done on his part.
However, his Widows costar Michelle Rodriguez has decided to throw her bad take into the ring, so there’s that:
“It’s all fuckin’ bullshit. Liam Neeson is not a racist,” said Rodriguez at the amfAR Gala New York, according to Vanity Fair. “Dude, have you watched Widows? His tongue was so far down Viola Davis’s throat. You can’t call him a racist ever. Racists don’t make out with the race that they hate, especially in the way he does with his tongue—so deep down her throat. I don’t care how good of an actor you are. It’s all bullshit. Ignore it. He’s not a racist. He’s a loving man. It’s all lies.”
That is truly one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard in my life. That is (a) completely and utterly not the point, and (b) anyone with even a tiny knowledge of world history can point to all the mixed-race children that were produced by white men and Black or Indigenous women through rape and see that you can absolutely have sex with someone of a race you deem “inferior.” You can even have children with them, but still inherently believe they are lesser than you.
Racism isn’t nullified by sexual attraction.
Also, **spoilers for Widows** Liam Neeson’s character fakes his death to abandon Viola Davis for a white woman and another white family he has on the sidelines, so maybe that film isn’t the best one to cite for him being incapable of anti-Black behavior.
The more I think about Neeson’s comments, the more I find myself frustrated by them on every level: the way, instead of working to help his friend who had been raped, to comfort her and ensure her future safety, he attempted to act out his rage fantasy on any innocent Black person he could find; the way he used his experience of growing up during The Troubles as some sort of buffer towards his violence; or most jarringly, the way he actively sought out this potentially violent resolution.
Beyond anger and disgust, I just feel sad and disappointed—sad at the rush to turn this into a feel-good story that helps people have “difficult conversations about race” and disappointed that Liam Neeson, an actor that I adored for a very long time, thought about doing something like this. I’m just really tired, and I wish that if we were going to have “difficult conversations about race,” it wouldn’t come from the place of trying to protect a white man from his own horrible statements.
(via Page Six, image: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)
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