This is the story, screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard spent 26 years bringing the Harriet Tubman story to the big screen. Howard said. “I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, ‘This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman.'” Howard said when someone suggested Roberts could not play the role, the executive responded, “‘It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.””
There is a lot to unpack in that alone, but, this past week, When asked about Julia Roberts playing Harriet Tubman, Viola Davis responded,
“Here’s the thing, and this is a four, five-hour conversation… I’m always a little concerned that the people who are questioned about race and diversity and inclusion, are the people in need and not the people in power.”
“You don’t question the people who have not been invited to the party, you question the people who are throwing the party,” she added.
Let’s be thankful for the truth, it may be painful, idiotic, infuriating or wrong, but the truth informs the context for discussion and decisions. When we talk about “getting not he same page,” the truth defines the page. To many people, the rational for a white actress to play a black activist who risked life and freedom to free slaves is, it was so long ago, no one is going to know the difference is ludicrous. However, the incident illustrates what goes on behind the scenes with those in power.
Critical thinking acknowledges constraints. What’s fair, logical, and rational is not always reality. What causes you outrage? This week, think critically. For your outrage, who is in power; who is throwing the party? Do you have connections or influence? Can you get yourself invited or do you need to throw your own party?
As a trained history teacher, I know people can be dumb about history, but not knowing Harriet Tubman could never be pulled off by Julia Roberts? That “nobody would notice”? Wow…I was cringing just reading that. I hoped this was an Onion article or something because I couldn’t believe anybody could be that stupid. Yeah, Davis is right, look at the ones throwing the party and their motives…most of the time, they’re not worth a grain of salt. And more than ever, we need critical thinking.
That was an interesting thing to read, and crazy.