During an interview with The Independent, actor, Liam Neeson admitted that after the rape of one of his friends, he walked around with a weapon looking to provoke an argument with a ‘Black bastard’ in order to kill him! Wow!

Understandably, many people found this revelation shocking. However, Neeson’s racist logic that any Black person must pay for the crimes of another, is the foundation for many atrocities in history. Such as the near 3500 lynchings that happened after the end of slavery, the destruction of Black American towns like Tulsa and Rosewood and false imprisonment of many Black people due to the prison industrial complex.

Even today, we see this logic’s ramifications in the media’s perception of Black people and the police’s disproportionate murders of Black Americans.

Liam Neeson said his friend revealed she had been raped and caused him to go on this week long manhunt.

“I had never felt this feeling before which was a primal urge to lash out, and I asked her, ‘did you know the person, was it a man?’ No. ‘Race?’ She said it was a black man.” 

Liam Neeson

The actor then said he “went out deliberately into black areas in the city looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence”.

Comedian Darren Griffin put Neeson’s logic into a witty analogy:

However, it is too easy for social media to turn one person into the issue without looking at whether their actions are a one-off or merely example of a sad collective issue and a racist trend.

In history, we have prominent examples where whole groups of Black people have been killed due to the need for revenge that Liam Neeson sort but eventually overcame. Last year, we also saw more examples of white supremacist attacks on innocent Black victims.

White Revenge equals Black victims

Most people are not taught these atrocities in school. Hence, why it is easy for people to be shocked by Liam Neeson’s words, rather than realise it is a part of a far bigger issue. I wrote this previously when contextualise people’s reaction to Jordan Peele’s Get Out:

  1. In 1919, the U.S. Department of Labor, produced a report on that year’s racial violence.  It catalogued 26 separate riots on the part of whites attacking Blacks in widely scattered communities.
    In 1921 and 1923, there were two separate incidents of Black towns being burnt to the ground and Black people murdered by neighbouring white communities.
    1. a- Rosewood[1923], a white woman said she was raped by a Black man, despite her claim widely being known as false, a riot and mob killed approx 150 black people and burnt down the mainly Black town of Rosewood.

    Tulsa Race riot[1921]: two teenagers shared an elevator ride, one a White woman and the other a Black man. The black man was accused of touching the white woman’s arm. The White teenager was questioned on the matter and later chose not to press any charges. However, this accusation and the subsequent rumors led to at least 300 black men and women being lynched and murdered. During the attack, it has been reported that planes even dropped bombs onto the prosperous Black business district. All of this was perpetrated by a mob of White people who had the backing of the City government. This attack led to the destruction of Greenwood which is now dubbed “Black Wall Street”. It was dubbed this because Greenwood was an affluent predominately Black town. It had 100s of black-owned businesses from cinemas, hospitals and a plane. Here’s CNN’s quick video on the terrible incident.
    It was later said that   “The Tulsa race riot of 1921 was rarely mentioned in history books, classrooms or even in private. Blacks and whites alike grew into middle age unaware of what had taken place.”
  2. In 1955, 14-year-old Emmet Till was brutally tortured and murder after he was accused of whistling at a White woman. It was the brutal nature of his death and the subsequent acquittal of his killers that motivated Rosa Parks to increase her activism.
  3. After the American Civil War, lynchings became a popular way of resolving some of the anger that white people had in relation to the ‘free’ Black Americans. From 1882-1968, at least 3,446 Black people were lynched. However, racism in America did not end in 1968. ‘Insert’ all of the other racially motivated murders, mass shootings, lynchings, rapes and beatings Black people have faced. From perpetrators like Dylan Roof to victims like Stephen Lawrence; along with the many victims who have never had justice.
  4. Insert the names of the countless Black people that have been murdered by the police since the end of slavery up to and beyond today’s date. Many of which were victims of the generalisation of the ‘super predator’ black man and woman. #BlackLivesMatters

The “any nigga will do” logic

Poignantly, on the day Liam Neeson made this revelation, I had just watched a screening of Barry Jenkins’s screen adaptation of the James Baldwin novel If Beale Street Could Talk. It is amazing!

The film is about how the blossoming love between a couple is abruptly interrupted after a false rape allegation rips their family apart. The character of Foni, is charged as the attacker in a rape, after a racist police officer he had an altercation with earlier in the film and identifies him as the primary suspect, despite him being home with his partner and friend at the time. 

I won’t ruin the rest of the movie, but, it is an allegory about America’s prison industrial complex and its impact on Black families and people. Whereby, too often there is very little justice for Black people. And, when justice is sought for others, when it comes to convicting a Black assailant in history and even today ‘any nigga will do’. 

In wider society, Black people are often generalised by the actions of their community. The media perception of Black people can often fall into three categories, sports stars, singers/rappers and criminals.

We become generalised by their actions, lyrics and mannerism. This robs us of our individuality and makes it hard for the majority of us that do not fit into these stereotypes. 

This generalisation can also impact employment hiring, media stories, unconscious bias, police arrests, prison sentencing and extremist attacks. 

Thus, Liam Neeson’s revelations were only the rewording of declarations of hate against Black people that as mentioned above have led to murders in history, but also in our contemporary society. 

“Y’all are raping our white women. Y’all are taking over the world,”

Dylann Roof

Dylann Roof shouted this as he killed nine Black people in cold blood in a church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.

In 2017,  White supremacist James Jackson, who initially hoped to kill a young Black guy who had “put white girls on the wrong path,”. However, like Neeson he was unable to find a young ‘Black bastard’, instead he murdered the elderly, Timothy Caughman, a Black 66-year-old man, with a sword in New York City.

In 2018, Gregory Alan Bush, killed two people in a convenience store after failing to enter a Black church. He probably would have killed more people than Dylan Roof if he had not been late for the service. When Bush was apprehended, during a stand-off with another member of the public, he allegedly said:

“Don’t shoot me and I won’t shoot you… Whites don’t kill whites.”

Gregory Alan Bush