We live in tense times. Every major celebrity must now be aware that their comments and posts on the murder of George Floyd, cop racism and the Black Lives Matter movement are going to be heavily scrutinized online. Arrow actor Stephen Amell was raked over the coals for claiming that he’d never personally witnessed racism, while Star Wars’ John Boyega has been praised for apparently being ready to sacrifice his career for the movement. Deadpool 2 and Brooklyn Nine-Nine star (and general action icon) Terry Crews, meanwhile, attracted some significant attention last week when he tweeted the following:
“Defeating White supremacy without White people creates Black supremacy. Equality is the truth. Like it or not, we are all in this together.”
This kicked up quite a storm, being retweeted 55,000 times and generating apparently endless discussion of exactly what Crews meant by “Black supremacy.” Now, he’s made an appearance on The Talk, where he attempted to clarify his comments by saying:
“I compare that tweet to cussing in church. What’s wild is you have a message, but then if you use a cuss word no one is really hearing what you say. The cuss word I used in this instance was black supremacy. … And this is what I really, really want to reiterate to you and explain. What I said was defeating white supremacy without white people could create black supremacy.
And this is what I’m talking about. My thing is in the black race, in black America, we have gatekeepers. We have people who have decided that who is going to be black and who is not. And I, simply because I have a mixed race wife, have been discounted from the conversation, a lot of times by very, very militant movements, black power movement. I’ve been called all kinds of things like an Uncle Tom simply because I’m successful, simply because I worked my way out of Flint, Michigan.”
MORE FROM THE WEB
Crews was then quizzed specifically about what he was referencing when he warned of “Black supremacy” and whether he regretted using the term, explaining:
“In 1994, in Rwanda there was a genocide and it was all black people. And there was one sector that viewed themselves as over the other. A million people died. And I was told it can’t happen in America. And I’m here to tell you that’s the first mistake. Any time anybody says, ‘Oh! That could never happen here.’ That’s exactly when it starts to happen.
Actually, I can’t really regret it because I really want the dialogue to come out. Maybe there’s another term that might be better whether it’s separatist or elitist or something like that. But the thing is I’ve experienced supremacy even growing up. I’ve had black people tell me that the white man is the devil. I’ve experienced whole organizations that have viewed themselves because of the suffering of black people, they have decided that now we are not equal, we’re better. I think that is a mistake.”
Finally, Terry Crews summarized his position on the issue, saying:
“We have to include this white voice, this Hispanic voice, this Asian voice. We have to include it right now. Because if we don’t it’s going to slip into something that we are really not prepared for.”
It’s a decent demonstration of why something that seems shocking when squeezed into a tweet can sound quite different when you’re given the space to expand upon what you actually meant to say. Whatever the case, it might be best for celebrities and major brands with a social media presence to really pay attention to what they’re tweeting at the moment, as even messaging that might otherwise be considered innocuous can turn into a PR disaster.