The world is awake with the fight for equality, not just online but on the ground as well through protests across the world. Hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter have been used to bring to light transgressions against people of color. The hotbed and origin of the protests being the United States.
The country has seen a number of actions that have been made with the intention of writing history since it seems a lot of it was written to depict white people as saviors, something we still see often in films and movies. All across the world, statues of prominent white historical figures who, in the past, did actions or made sentiments that discriminated people based on color of their skin are being revisited and pulled down. The call to action and accountability is going beyond the grave to people who are viewed as legends in America.
One of these people is John Wayne, a screen icon. With a whole airport named after him, John Wayne was considered a hero and not just in the films that the films that he starred in. In his hey days, John Wayne starred in many films where he beat up his opponents into a triumphant ending. His opponents in the movies were usually marginalized people, especially the Native Americans.
In a country with a history rife with mistreatment of people of color, it is even sadder when people with power and influence condone the behavior. Liberals have demanded to have the John Wayne airport renamed after comments he made 48 years ago came to light.
Speaking to Playboy Magazine, one of the biggest publications of the time, John Wayne made comments that would no longer be considered acceptable by todays standards, the comments didn’t seem to cause him too much trouble 50 years ago but in todays world they would never be considered acceptable. Apart from thinking white people should rule the world, Wayne also thought African Americans were an inferior people who did deserved their painful history and do not deserve power in any way or form. He said, “We can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn over to the leadership of the blacks.” To add salt to the wound he said he had no guilt over what the founding people did to the Native Americans they found there, even though it involved a full-on massacre.
This does not come as a surprise to people as the man built his career fighting the very people that were harassed and beaten into submitting their lands is not a surprise, but the fact that all this was known and he was still recognized as an icon is a surprise to many. In his own words, the man was a lot more of his oppressive character and he was very okay admitting it to the press. Yet instead of being held accountable and condemned, he was given a seat among the legends and written in the history books, a common feature that American history seems very fond of.
The power of the internet and people demanding change is not to be underestimated as it has been the force behind many changes around the world in countries and sectors like Hollywood, nothing to be underestimated. Just as statues have been taken down, the people can also come together to ensure that past celebrities are also accountable to their words and actions.
Do you think John Wayne tributes should be taken down in light of these comments?