Dear Michelle Rodriguez, Viola Davis Cannot Suck the Racism out of Liam Neeson via Tongue Kiss

Michelle Rodriguez attends the European Premiere of ‘Widows’ and opening night gala of the 62nd BFI London Film Festival on October 10, 2018 in London, England.
Photo: Gareth Cattermole (Getty Images for BFI)

Unless you’ve been living under the blissful rock on Ignorance Lane, you may have heard about the time no one asked Liam Neeson to reminisce on his fantastic voyage into Taken 4: Black Bastard.

Quick summary: The Cold Pursuit star mused on a particular instance that inspired his role, where his friend told him she was allegedly raped by a black man, thus inspiring him to go on a hunt for any black man to satisfy his palate for revenge.

Shortly after I saw the news, I had a feeling someone would bring up another film of his.

I thought of the striking opening image of Widows, which became much-discussed fodder even before the film was released in theaters. As Viola Davis described, it was a visceral image to display in a society that dehumanizes black women, a pattern that is only exacerbated the darker the woman’s skin gets. We’re all aware of the near-criminal absence of images of dark-skinned black women as just... people.


“The film begins with me in bed with Liam Neeson, and we’re kissing, and it’s a sexualized kiss. Here I am, I’m dark, I’m 53, I’m in my natural hair... and I’m with Liam Neeson. I’m with what America would consider to be a ‘hunk’,” Davis told BBC. “He’s not my slave owner. I’m not a prostitute. It’s not trying to make any social or political statements. We’re simply a couple in love. And what struck me in the narrative is that I’d never seen it before. And you’re not gonna see it this year, you’re not going to see it next year, you’re not going to see it the year after that.”

After Liam’s unnecessary and offensive recounting, I knew someone would drop a slave-y ass ideology about white men’s inability to be racist being linked to their lust for black women would pop up somewhere. As if that very perversion or fetishization wasn’t all up and through the rape and systemic hyper-sexualizing of black women.


Little did I know, my first sighting of that trash ass defense wouldn’t come in the cockles of the trash-takes abyss in Twitter, but via another Widows co-star.

Michelle Rodriguez, who portrays “Linda” in the badass matriarchy heist film, commented on the matter Wednesday night, during the amfAR Gala in New York.


“It’s all fuckin’ bullshit. Liam Neeson is not a racist,” said Rodriguez, via Variety. “Dude, have you watched Widows? His tongue was so far down Viola Davis’s throat. You can’t call him a racist ever. Racists don’t make out with the race that they hate, especially in the way he does with his tongue—so deep down her throat. I don’t care how good of an actor you are. It’s all bullshit. Ignore it. He’s not a racist. He’s a loving man. It’s all lies.”

Girl, what?!

What you’re not going to do is use Viola as a vessel to cure his racism. He already gave us his ridiculous cure: power-walking. He sung “I power-walked it awayyyy” in his post-racial shower.


Are you also implying Viola’s black girl magical tongue kiss was the peace treaty to his internal bigoted rage? That’s not how any of this works.

To all other non-black folks just itching to tackle this topic? Shutting the fuck up is free. I highly recommend choosing silence about this shit, fast and furiously. Because you don’t have the range.


Bless up.

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About the author

Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.