Famous actor Liam Neeson has come under fire for some pretty heavy racist remarks in a recent interview disclosing some personal details from his past.
In this interview, Neeson discusses with Clémence Michallon from The Independent a time when he learned that someone close to him had been raped. When he questioned this person if they knew who committed the act, he specifically asked what color they were. According to the interview, when the woman disclosed that it was a black person, Neeson reacted violently.
"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," another pause, "kill him."
He didn't set out to find the attacker specifically. No, Neeson was solely looking for a black man, any black man, to inflict violence upon as revenge. He thought this consciously, and even in the interview, he still acknowledges the gravity of the racist actions he attempted to make.
But people are coming to his defense. Michelle Rodriguez, Neeson's co-star in "Widows," claimed he couldn't possibly be racist because of how he kissed Viola Davis. "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," Rodriguez claimed in an interview with Vanity Fair, vehemently denying any possibility that Neeson could be racist.
Sorry Michelle, but that's just bullshit.
This sounds very similar to that sad, not-a-racist defense that some small town white people like to say that we know all too well: "I have a black friend."
Liam Neeson is an actor. He makes more money than I probably ever will in my entire life. But the claim that he's not racist based on the fact that he made out "passionately" with a black woman in a film he got paid to be cast in is just empty.
He said so himself in an interview that he set out to attack virtually any black man he came across. He desperately was hoping for something to prompt a violent altercation. And this wasn't just a one-time reaction. Neeson claims in the Independent interview that he would go out for "just a walk" for roughly a week and a half or so.
What the person close to Neeson went through is a horrible, awful thing, and it's so painful when it happens to someone you know. There's no arguing that, and she deserves justice. The person who raped her deserves to be arrested and punished for everything he took away from her. She deserves that. But the way Neeson handled it, though, shows his racism plain as day.
Racism isn't just an outward and obvious display of hatred. Internalized racism is a very real thing, and Neeson needs a wake-up call to that. He can deny it all he wants, but that doesn't change what he did, what he thought.
Just because a person is in an interracial relationship doesn't mean they're not racist. Just because a person has a black friend doesn't mean they're not racist. Just because a famous actor shoves his tongue down a black woman's throat in a movie doesn't mean he's not racist.
Racism can be very obvious, but it can also be very subconscious. It shows itself in your actions, even in split-second thinking. Being wary of people of color, trusting people of color, and being a harsher critic of people of color than white people are some indicators of internalized racism. When Neeson immediately set out to attack any black man he saw on the street, he showed signs of this.
But the fact that this was a prolonged urge to, in his own words, kill any 'black bastard' that came out of a pub and had a problem, dismisses any attempt to say he's not racist. He just said he was himself. So his co-stars can defend him all he wants, he can deny it on talk shows for days, but nothing changes.
You're racist, Liam.