Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez and antiquated racism

Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez and antiquated racism

Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez and antiquated racism
February 19
23:10 2019

In preparation for the release of his new movie “Cold Pursuit,” Liam Neeson revealed a story about his past experiences with racism. His comments were and still are racist, and he should not be applauded for coming to this realization.

The Irish actor recently talked about an incident in which he wanted to chase down and kill “a black man” after one of his friends had been sexually assaulted by someone who was black. He didn’t want to kill the man who sexually assaulted his friend though, he wanted to kill any black person.

He was “angry.” That was his defense. Neeson believes his actions were based on emotion and race had nothing to do with it. Actress Michelle Rodriguez, known for her role in the movie franchise “The Fast and the Furious,” defended Neeson by saying his kiss with black actress Viola Davis in the movie “Widows” was so convincing, there’s no way he could be racist.

Our society has an altered view of what it means to be racist — it’s very possible for someone racist to silently sit by while still thinking lesser of others. Neeson is from Ireland, so he may not be fully aware of the complex racial history of the U.S., but he has worked in the states long enough to learn.

Black men have a history of being killed for the color of their skin. Police officers do it, white supremacists do it and apparently, Neeson has considered doing it.

Years ago, black people were not viewed as human, thus justifying their mistreatment. People don’t feel as bad killing something they view as an animal.

The entire idea is that Neeson would not have felt the same way had his friend’s assaulter been white. He wouldn’t have said he wanted to kill a white man to release his “anger,” he would’ve wanted to find the person who assaulted his friend.

Rodriguez is an example of someone speaking for a group when they have no right to. Her intention to come to Neeson’s defense was good, it’s just that the point she used in defense is based on an antiquated idea of what racism is. If we follow Rodriguez’s understanding of racism, the slave owners who slept with their slaves weren’t racist either.

In addition, Neeson was paid for his role in the movie — it was literally his job to kiss Davis. “I can’t be racist because my friend/boyfriend/grandchild is black” is a defense that has been used to sway racism accusations for years, and Rodriguez’s comments on Neeson is yet another example.

Being in a relationship with a black person doesn’t excuse you from racism and neither does having a black friend or coworker. These two celebrities’ actions touch on an important issue in regard to understanding racism: history. It’s all about history.

Both Neeson and Rodriguez have come out and apologized for their actions. Their apologies should be accepted, but they should not receive gold medals for realizing what’s right.

Featured Illustration: Shannon Quillman

About Author

Octavius Williams

Octavius Williams

Journalism student who loves pop culture, social justice, Anthropology and learning. Very cheesy.

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