In an ongoing effort to show support for the international protests against racial injustice, the School of Cinematic Arts at USC has made the decision to remove its exhibit featuring John Wayne, as a result of the late Hollywood star’s history of racism.
On Friday, Evan Hughes, the university’s assistant dean of diversity and inclusion, verified the elimination of the Wayne display in a concise statement posted on the School of Cinematic Arts’ Twitter page.
Hughes wrote, it is important to consider the role our school can play as a change maker in promoting cultural anti-racist experiences and values. This requires us to have conversations about systemic racism in our cultural institutions, especially in light of the recent global civil uprising sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement. Therefore, the decision has been made to remove Exhibit Wayne.
Despite not being explicitly mentioned in the dean’s statement, Wayne — who passed away in 1979 — has been under scrutiny for nearly five decades due to his racist and prejudiced remarks targeting Black and Indigenous individuals in an interview with Playboy magazine.
Grit True, the star mentioned, I believe in white supremacy until Blacks are educated about the equality and inclusivity of said point.
I do not trust individuals who are not responsible with granting them power and positions of leadership and decision-making authority. We cannot simply kneel and hand over control to the leadership of the Black community all of a sudden.
The actor from western movies subsequently supported the actions of American colonizers in history, following their appropriation of Indigenous peoples’ territories.
Wayne said, “We didn’t feel wrong in taking away from this great country, as they called us thieves for stealing their matter, our survival.”
“There were significant numbers of people who needed new land, and the Native Americans were selfishly trying to keep it only for themselves.”
Starting from late 2019, students at the University of Southern California (USC) have been demonstrating to have the institution’s homage to Wayne taken down. Prompted by the death of George Floyd, who passed away on May 25 after a white police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis, there have been renewed demands to eradicate systemic racism worldwide in 2020.
According to Variety, Eric Plant, a film student at USC, demonstrated his opposition to the Wayne exhibit by displaying a banner outside the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) at USC. The banner stated, “In supporting Wayne’s heritage, SCA is promoting white supremacy.” This occurred in October of last year.
Wayne’s protest against the film exhibit was motivated by his Playboy interview, as mentioned by Plant.
“I informed the outlet that I was going to stand outside with SCA’s banner to essentially ruin their image, and they were going to take it down until there is a statement saying that they have taken it down every single day… Like that, like that.”
In response to the protests, Hughes said in a “statement” that our student population needs to be informed and aware of how changes in the environment, particularly when it comes to the information that is brought by light, relate to our inclusive community values.
I can assure you that we should continue the conversation to ensure that we are held responsible for what we discuss.
The SCA’s Wayne exhibit’s removal following Hughes’ recent announcement will now house the purpose of research and scholarship for prominent Hollywood figures, other records from USC’s Cinematic Arts Library archives, along with all artifacts and materials.
“In the statement, Hughes concluded, ‘we are aware that we are working to build a more supportive and stronger community for our BIPOC students, please.'”
Wayne has also been under scrutiny for his comments at the Orange County airport.
Two weeks ago, the leaders of Orange County’s Democratic Party initiated efforts to remove Wayne’s name, statue, and other representations from the county’s airport.
The Orange County Democratic Party adopted a resolution last month condemning John Wayne Airport for his bigoted and racist statements during an interview with Playboy, and called for his likeness and name to be dropped from the county’s board of supervisors.
The resolution was immediately opposed by the head of the Republican Party in Wayne’s county, who condemned the actor and philanthropist’s contributions. However, the board asked to restore the name of Orange County Airport.
“Expressing her views, Ada Briceño, the head of the Democratic Party in Orange County, stated that it is inappropriate to bestow the name of an individual who, in reality, went against the principles of equal opportunities and fairness for all, on an airport that caters to millions of individuals annually. She emphasized the need for a transformation at this moment.”
Additional details regarding anti-Black discrimination in Canada:
According to multiple reports and experts, racial profiling and racial discrimination against individuals of Black ethnicity is a systemic issue in Canada.
According to the latest government statistics, Black Canadians account for over 3.5 percent of the total population in the country, but they are overrepresented by more than 300 percent in federal prisons, as found by Howard John Society.
According to a report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 2018, a white person is almost 20 times more likely to be involved in a fatal shooting by the Toronto police than a Black person. Black Canadians are also more likely to experience unnecessary arrests, charges, and unjustified or inappropriate searches during encounters with the police, as stated by the John Howard Society. Additionally, they are also more likely to be held overnight by the police compared to white individuals.
The Symposium on Health Care Experiences of Black Canadians notes that they often face discrimination and barriers within the health care system. The research conducted by the Black Health Alliance reveals that Black Canadians experience disparities in health outcomes compared to the larger population.
Researchers published a study in the Health Minority and Immigrant Journal, which reported higher rates of hypertension and diabetes among Black individuals compared to white individuals, indicating the daily experiences of racism may contribute to these disparities.
According to the Canadian Department of Justice, Indigenous women and girls are more than three times as likely to experience sexual assault and violence and are between six and 12 times more likely to be killed, depending on the province or territory. Indigenous men, according to the John Howard Society, are almost eight times more likely to be murdered. Indigenous Peoples, in Canada, represent approximately five percent of the population and are disproportionately represented in the prison system, accounting for 28 percent of male admissions to custody in 2017-18. Additionally, Indigenous Peoples face discrimination within health-care systems and by law enforcement, resulting in poorer health outcomes. This information is supported by Statistics Canada.