Day four of Black History Month
Well, this has been an interesting beginning to Black History Month.
On Friday, Day 1, we learned that Virginia governor Ralph Northam posed in blackface standing next to another man dressed in a KKK hood for his medical school year book.
On Saturday, Day 2, Gov. Northam, rather than accepting responsibility for his past actions, reneged on acknowledging that he was the person in the picture, said that he’d done it other times, and looked for a place to moonwalk.
Now today, on Day 4, The Independent published an interview with thespian Liam Neeson. Neeson was doing the normal press junket for his new action movie. In the interview, well, let me just quote it.
Liam Neeson has revealed he once walked the streets with a cosh for days looking to kill a “black bastard” after someone close to him was raped many years ago.
Neeson, who has starred in films such as Taken and Non-Stop, recalled being told about the rape after he returned from a trip overseas.
“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson said during the interview, which can be read in full here. “But my immediate reaction was ... did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.
“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody. I’m ashamed to say that, and I did it for maybe a week – hoping some [Neeson gestures air quotes with his fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”
So, there you have it. Neeson was looking to kill someone who had nothing to do with his loved one’s rape just because the person was black.
Too many times the focus of Black History Month is on the achievements of African Americans. And that should still be one of the focuses. But it’s been more than educational that in these first four days of February, we’ve been treated to the toxicity of racism which still adheres to our culture.
Between Northam and Neeson, we’ve been given signal lessons on how racism is woven into the woof of our society. From wearing blackface to outright wanting to kill an innocent black man out of revenge, we can’t but surmise that while things are better, they’re not great.
As painful as these revelations have been, I think they’ve been to the good. They remind us that when black people tell you their stories, they’re not exaggerating. We have a Hollywood star confessing that he wanted to murder a black man out of blind rage. If his friend’s rapist had been white, would he have reacted in the same manner? I think we know the answer to that; he may have felt the same rage, but it’d doubtful he’d be prowling the streets to murder a random white man.
Hopefully, the rest of Black History Month can be spent honoring the accomplishments of African Americans. But I’m sure we’ll have more opportunities to remember why when a black man or woman tells you their story, the best thing one can do is listen.
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