by Liku Zelleke
Some people can earn a reputation that they do not deserve, while others can hide an outlook that would be considered vitriolic enough to ruin their reputations if they were to become public.
Here are five famous persons that were at one time or another rumored to have been racists:
Everyone knows the great Bambino. In some people’s eyes, he still remains the greatest player to ever swing a bat.
But, what most people don’t know is that his name was once darkened by accusations of racism. Apart from rumors that he himself was black, there were those who believed he refused to play against African American players.
Neither of the rumors is true.
The Babe was in fact a supporter of Negro League teams and had even played against them on numerous occasions – even when others refused to do so. He was also close friends with entertainer and part owner of “The Black Yankees”, Bill “Bo” Jangles and even Joe Louis, the Heavyweight Champ, who once, reportedly, promised to “hit one this time for you, Babe,” while fighting Tiger Hairston in 1937.
He did use slur words like the N-word as did people of his time. He even said that he was often called “nigger lips” because of his African features.
Disney was often accused of being racist, anti-Semitic and sexist. These mostly arose from characters in his movie like Dumbo’s black crows, Fantasia’ black servant centaur and “Song of the South”, a movie so racist the Disney company has locked it away in its vaults – which was released despite Disney’s anticipation of controversy.
Disney’s autobiographer wrote about how Disney used the word “pickaninny” and an instance when he referred to the seven dwarves as a “nigger pile”.
In Disney’s case, there are no doubts about his bias.
Thomas Jefferson was among those that penned the Declaration of Independence, which included the phrase that “all men are created equal.”
But, he mustn’t have truly believed in those words or must have been a hypocrite, because, although he did have a notorious affair with his slave, Sally Hemmings, he did own slaves and was an unyielding part of the institution.
Even when many of his comrades, including George Washington, freed their slaves after the Revolutionary War, he didn’t budge.
On his death bed he was still unrepentant. He freed only five of his nearly 200 slaves – and that too because they were his progeny from his mistress Hemmings, who, along with the others, was mandated to be sold in auctions.
John Wayne was a legendary star in a class of his own. Offstage he had a way of thinking that would make anyone squirm.
In a 1971 interview with Playboy, he bared it all when asked about his views on racial discrimination.
He said that he believed in white supremacy until “the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility,” and that he didn’t believe in “giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”
Admitting that about 10% of the US population at the time was “black, or colored, or whatever…” he said that that ratio wouldn’t necessarily be reflected in Hollywood, because more than likely, “10 percent haven’t trained themselves for that kind work.”
“The King”, according to critics, reigned supreme by playing music that first originated in the African American community. Stronger critics even went so far as to accuse him of being intolerant towards blacks.
One vehement defender of Presley is Peter Guralnick of The New York Times. He says that the singer was once rumored to have said that the only thing Negroes could do for him was “buy my records and shine my shoes” – a charge Guralnick strongly denies.
On the contrary, he said, Presley attended the church of the famous black gospel composer, the Reverend W. Herbert Brewster when he was a teenager, and that he was also friends with the likes of B.B. King whom he acknowledged by saying “Thanks, man, for all the early lessons you gave me.”
Source: The Huffington Post