Why The Story Liam Neeson Shared About “Coshing” “A Black B******” Is Problematic
When it comes to race-bait pieces, I tend to identify them for what they are before casually perusing, and discarding with practiced exhaustion.
Racially-insensitive material has now become a global phenomenon, as reputable outlets evolve into purposed scavengers, on the hunt for meaty or bony fare that will undoubtedly prove how Black folks are still fighting off the life-threatening epidemic of overt racism.
Suddenly you start getting those pesky DM messages from desperate editors in Britain, who scouted you out as the “race writer” who will know what to say to nonchalant White Brits, who don’t give much of a damn about hair politics of Black women or whether or not Meghan Markle is truly the eyesore of the royal family because she’s not 100 percent White.
There’s also no need to be bothered about the coerced pieces from outlets like the Independent, Daily Mail and plenty others like them, that eagerly plant the suggestive headlines with the winning bet that it will absolutely garner the attention it deserves.
Unfortunately the recent entry by the Independent, that captures the promotional interview by Liam Neeson, who veered off topic to fess up to his past entanglements as a White male hunting for Black males to clubber to death — didn’t allow me to just let it be.
Neeson’s “action star” persona has served him well in Hollywood, and while Taken wasn’t so bad, the rest of his catalogue seems like just one long extended version of what we pretty much see everywhere else.
But I’ve never been a hater or particularly charmed by his Irishness, although his participation in Batman Begins was noticeably palatable.
However, this latest stunt to add onto the ever-growing pile of heartthrob celebs who disappoint beyond repair, definitely leaves a salty aftertaste that can’t be easily washed away with pints of Guinness.
The piece in the Independent went viral by storming platforms with the outrageously provocative headline that I had to click on in order to prove its validity.
Sure enough, the content didn’t lack in the graphicness of what Neeson described when recalling a woman friend’s assault at the hands of a Black man, and how enraged he was to the point of trolling the streets, in search of Black men to mutilate or kill as vengeance for the rape.
‘I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be… approached by somebody — I’m ashamed to say that — and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some ‘black b******d’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.’
The rest of it reads like the typical fare, with the setup of an asshole, who turns out to be refreshingly fallible.
In this movie, Neeson plays a young and reckless White guy who grew up in Northern Ireland, during the period of turbulence, which gave him the attributes of lashing out in anger and directing that venom specifically to Black men, who are known to be easy targets. But now that’s he’s older, he realizes that misdirected anger isn’t the way to go, and he’s telling us this because he’s thankfully a changed man.
End of story? Not quite.
The main issue with Neeson’s confessional is how casually he admits to doing something that carries heavy consequences with historical context that only enhances the severity of his words.
When he asked his friend if she knew the racial makeup of her attacker, and she said he was Black, the first thought in my head, was whether or not she was being truthful. Of course it sounds callous to wonder about honesty in an intensely tragic situation, but if history has taught us anything, based on decades of evidence — we can’t very well dismiss the deadly betrayal of White women, who have watched Black men get lynched based on the lies that enraged White men into a murderous rage.
We have no idea whether or not the case involving his relative was thoroughly investigated with an officially assigned outcome. We don’t know if it really was a Black man that committed the crime, and Neeson never bothered to finish what he started by confirming or denying.
We just know that he was waiting outside pubs, with the prayer that drunk Black men would start filing out, and hopefully one of them would be curious enough to investigate why a White man with a threatening stance is positioned for a fight.
This story may seem harmlessly indulgent, as we decide if Liam Neeson is still racist after exhibiting those damning characteristics awhile back.
The answer is that he is still racist, and also supremely cavalier about outing himself as one.
It’s quite triggering to read about the macho White guy searching for fresh meat in the form of any Black dude walking the streets, because they are all guilty just by being Black. And while it’s possible that his friend isn’t White, it still doesn’t make this any less heinous, when you consider how many Black men are waiting to die for crimes they didn’t commit.
Neeson’s White privilege arms him with the audacity to set up the scene that depicts how he was ready and willing to kill a Black man, any Black man, on the spot, as way to process the damage done to someone he loves.
And you have to wonder, as I often do, why White people are quick to misdirect the bad things that a Black individual does to all Black people, instead of realizing the actions of one doesn’t apply to an entire race.
White people in America never have to bear the shame of an elected idiot as president. There’s no desire to storm Wall Street and clubber well-suited White males as punishment for having a White supremacist in the White House.
Neeson’s confession should’ve just stayed within his White circle of friends, who would surely appreciate the tale of the White vigilante who hunted for Black blood with the fury of a hungry racist.
Aside from being a scrumptious race-bait, it also serves as the brutal reminder of how White people rely on the privilege of being vulnerable to a range of emotions that acquits them from taking accountability, based on all the time that has passed, and the youthfulness of the misbehaved.
But Black people are never given those privileges, which explains why you will never read a story about a Black man who was ready to kick the ass of every and any White guy that walked by as revenge for harm done.
That Black guy is going to find the guy who actually did it, and he certainly won’t share the details while promoting his film.
And if he did, his outcome won’t be as star-studded as Neeson’s, which is really the main difference between Black and White.