Anthony Mackie is finally responding to the backlash again comments he made about police profiling those with dreadlocks. Earlier this week, Mackie spoke with The Grio and remarked folks wearing dreadlocks are profiled by police and can change the profiling by not wearing them. Mackie remarked:
Like my nephew wanted to grow dreadlocks. I’m like fine, I’ll sit you down and I’ll watch The First 48 with you and everybody you see on that show, that’s doing something wrong, they’re black dudes with dreadlocks. So, do you want to be seen as part of the problem or do you want to be an individual?
Mackie further stated:
Let’s just say you have locks and you walking down the street. The police pull you over and say you fit the description of somebody. You start yelling and arguing with the cops. Next thing you know you pressed up against the wall going to jail for something you’re not even involved in just because you look like somebody and you don’t know how to handle yourself.
Mackie’s comments set off a firestorm online, when readers felt as though the actor was implying racial profiling by police was the victim’s fault for their looks. Now, Mackie is speaking out against the criticisms made on social media and claims reporter Chris Witherspoon“lied” about his remarks. Mackie told EurWeb:
What’s really sad is, this is someone I’ve known for about four years. And it’s a black dude. So I felt like we could sit and have a candid conversation about race, and he wouldn’t take soundbites, he would let the entire conversation live, and he didn’t. That’s what frustrates me. Mr. Witherspoon really pissed me off because I trusted him, and he lied. The reality of it is this, I said my nephew came to me and said he wanted dreadlocks. We were talking about profiling. And I said if you have a conversation about profiling and you don’t talk about the different aspects of profiling, if you don’t talk about perception, you are doing everyone in your family a great disservice. I don’t care who it is. If you have a young black man, a young black woman, a young white man, a young white woman, you sit them down and talk about perception. That’s what adults do. I said my nephew came to me and he said, ‘I’m a grow dreadlocks.’ Now speaking as someone who had dreadlocks, let’s start there, speaking as someone who had dreadlocks, I sat my nephew down, I turned on “First 48″ because it’s one of my favorite shows. There are all these young black men being arrested, killed, the majority of ‘em have dreadlocks. It’s a phenomenon now. Young men want dreadlocks because it’s cool.
So I told him, ‘You will be perceived as this. If you wear your pants hanging off of your behind, if you wear your shoes a certain way, if you have tattoos all up your neck, you can be perceived as this. And with perception comes profiling. So, you can be part of the problem of perception or you can be an individual. Now when I say individual, that’s a completely different connotation, because when you’re an individual, that teaches you how to deal with police. So if you have dreadlocks, and police profile you, you say ‘Yes officer, no officer, are we done oficer?’ You never raise your voice, you never talk slick, because you’re in a fight now that you can’t win because you don’t have the power. When you’re in shark-infested waters, you have to acknowledge everything as a shark until proven otherwise. And right now, young black men are in shark-infested waters. If we don’t give them the tools to make it out of that water, we are doing them a disservice. So it really upset me, that Chris focused on what I said about dreadlocks when that is an example. I don’t care if you have dreadlocks, I had dreadlocks. I don’t care if you’re baldheaded. I don’t care if you have a wacky tacky bush. I don’t care. The idea is perception. And that’s something you can’t clear up with 160 characters. But people don’t want to listen, they want to take the easy way out. You can’t say the police are right, you can’t say that black people are right. You can’t say that police are wrong, you can’t say that black people are wrong. What you can say is, ‘I’m here. Talk so I can listen.’
Watch Mackie’s interview below.
The Grio isn’t taking Mackie’s accusations lightly. The site drew a line in the sand and are standing by their story by releasing both the original and unedited versions for people to judge from. The site stated:
Witherspoon’s journalistic integrity is beyond reproach. He has sat down with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Harry Belafonte and Denzel Washington. He would not have access to such caliber of talent if he had a reputation for being duplicitous.
We continue to be admirers of Anthony Mackie. However, we hope that he discontinues his attack on Chris Witherspoon’s character and offers an apology.
Sounds like The Grio doesn’t want you to buy what Anthony’s selling. Judge the interviews for yourself below.