Days after Anthony Mackie made eyebrow-raising comments regarding the Oscar snub of “Selma” in the major acting and directing categories, he’s really catching major heat for his take on the topic of police violence against young black men in that same interview.
And although the actor didn’t mention the name of the website he gave the interview to, he identified the reporter/interviewer as “Mr. Witherspoon,” a reference to Chris Witherspoon of thegrio.com. According to Mackie, he didn’t realize his comments were being used by Witherspoon for his story, which turned into a headline grabbing newsmaker.
“I felt that we could sit and have a candid conversation about race and he wouldn’t take soundbites. He would let the entire conversation live. And he didn’t. And that’s what frustrates me…Mr. Witherspoon really pissed me off because I trusted him and he lied.,”Mackie told EURweb associate Fahnia Thomas on Wednesday while promoting his upcoming new movie “Black or White.”
Since news of Mackie’s comments surfaced, the actor has been hit with criticism on social media. Clarifying his remarks, Mackie mentioned that what he said about dreadlocks was an example illustrating the perception of those wearing the hairstyle among police officers, not a slam towards anyone with dreadlocks.
“I said ‘My nephew came to me and he said I’ma grow dreadlocks…So speaking as someone who had dreadlocks, I sat my nephew down. I turned on ‘First 48’ because it’s one of my favorite shows. So there are all these young black men being arrested, being killed. The majority of them have dreadlocks. It’s a phenomenon now. Young men want dreadlocks because it’s cool.
“So I told him ‘You will be perceived as this. If you wear your pants hanging off your behind, if you wear your shoes a certain way, if you got tattoos all up your neck. I’m not saying that’s what you are, but you will be perceived as this. And with perception comes profiling,” Mackie continued, while expressing concern as he compared the tense relationship between law enforcement and black men to being in “shark-infested waters.”
As the nation continues to be divided over race, Mackie offered a simple solution he feels could help things progress. The key, according to the entertainer, is to listen, something that may not be easy to accomplish in this day and age.
“Noone’s listening….Everybody wanna hashtag, but nobody’s listening,” Mackie said.
“I don’t know how white people feel about what happened in New York or Ferguson because they haven’t been given an opportunity to speak. And that’s what’s so scary. I feel like we just all need to stop and listen,” Mackie added.
“You want to do a good protest? Set up four booths in Times Square with a sign over them that say ‘Talk to me’ and put two black people and two white people in each booth and talk. Talk.”
Watch Anthony Mackie’s response.
(Video Source: EURWeb’s Vimeo)