Tom Hanks’ comments about wanting the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre to be taught in schools is catching lots of comments on social media.
In an op-ed for the New York Times published on Friday (June 4), the actor, who describes himself as a “lay historian,” said he did not learn about what happened in Tulsa in high school and at community college in Oakland.
“I never read a page of any school history book about how, in 1921, a mob of white people burned down a place called Black Wall Street, killed as many as 300 of its Black citizens and displaced thousands of Black Americans who lived in Tulsa, Okla.,” he writes.
Hanks notes that too much of Black history, “including the horrors of Tulsa” was “too often left out” because history is “mostly written by white people about white people.”
Hanks goes on to write: “It seems white educators and school administrators (if they even knew of the Tulsa massacre, for some surely did not) omitted the volatile subject for the sake of the status quo, placing white feelings over Black experience — literally Black lives in this case,” then, he follows up about a possible change in perspective if the Tulsa massacre was taught to students as early as the fifth grade. “Today, I find the omission tragic, an opportunity missed, a teachable moment squandered.”
Additionally, the actor shifted the subject of Black history to its portrayal in Hollywood and said the entertainment business did not take on subjects like Black Wall Street until recently with series like Lovecraft Country and Watchmen. He notes that historically-based fiction entertainment “must portray the burden of racism in our nation for the sake of the art form’s claims to verisimilitude and authenticity.”
Tom Hanks’ comments about Tulsa and Black Wall Street have Black Twitter largely applauding him:
Tom Hanks is a white man who is trying his best. Others should take heed.— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) June 4, 2021
Wait... why is Tom Hanks trending???— The Cicadas Made Me Do It (@derricklweston) June 4, 2021
Oh... for continuing to be a genuinely good person.
Good on Tom Hanks, but I REALLY want people especially Black organizers and pundits and white academics to think very GOD DAMN DEEPLY about why it is easier to boost Tom Hanks than coming up with strategies that boost ANY OF THE BLACK SCHOLARS WHO BEEN WORKING ON Tulsa— 🗽Sydette Cosmic Gorgon 🇬🇾 (@Blackamazon) June 4, 2021
READ AND SHARE: Well done, Tom Hanks. https://t.co/YZ5C3xWO2l— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) June 4, 2021
But seriously.— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) June 4, 2021
Ding dongs like Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi are regarded as luminaries as they bleat about “woke ideology” and “cancel culture,” meanwhile here comes Tom Hanks with a more thoughtful piece of writing than either of them have written in months if not longer.
Read the full op-ed here.
Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images