Some celebrities have faced the Hollywood cancel culture over racially-biased remarks, while others have narrowly escaped after rendering a public apology.
The influence of celebrities goes beyond entertainment and pop culture, as their way of life greatly informs how other people, especially fans, perceive the world. Yet, many times, these social influencers have crossed the line on different subjects ranging from body size to racism.
For the less-discussed topics, their remarks often go unnoticed, without attracting dire consequences. However, more sensitive topics like the issue of racism which has torn deep into the society, attract drastic repercussions, often costing these famous figures their jobs and stardom.
More recently, EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg faced backlash over her offensive comments about the Holocaust while on “The View,” earning her a temporary suspension.
Although she has since returned to the screens, the issue has spurred debates about what should be considered as “crossing the line” where racism is concerned. While this topic is as vague as it gets, a look at some celebrities who have fallen into the “racist” trap in years past is a great place to begin.
1. Hartley Sawyer
In July 2020, CW shocked the world with their announcement that Hartley Sawyer would not be returning for a seventh season of “The Flash,” where he played Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man.
Their decision to fire him came shortly after a series of his tweets from 2012 to 2014, containing racial and homophobic slurs, surfaced.
The incident, which led to the deactivation of the onscreen superhero’s Twitter account seemingly portrayed him as misogynistic, homophobic, and racist. The icon has struggled to find his footings in Hollywood ever since.
2. Taylor Selfridge
“Teen Mom” star Taylor Selfridge came under fire in June 2020 for her past seemingly racist remarks on Twitter. Circulating screenshots around the time showed the star tweeted some offensive remarks about African Americans and Asians in 2012.
In one such tweet, the MTV idol admitted she refrained from greeting the “black people” at her workplace because they scare her. She also made fun of her uncle’s Asian girlfriend in the derogatory tweet.
Ultimately, MTV cut ties with her, pulling her reality show, “Teen Mom OG At Home: Cory & Taylor’s Baby Special,” from the network’s lineup.
3. Kanye West
In 2015, hip hop mogul Kanye West dropped the bombshell comment about his view on racism during a sit down with “Clique TV.” During the show, the rapper addressed a variety of issues affecting the black community, from power dynamics to racism.
He called racism a dated concept, and a silly idea people touched on to either separate, alienate or pinpoint anything. He went on to liken it to two cats playing with a bouncing ball, noting that racism was not “an actual thing that even means anything.”
His comment put off a lot of people, who called him out on social media. Many have since pointed out West’s double standards, given he conveniently played the “racist card” whenever it suited him despite claiming the concept was dated.
4. Jessica Mulroney
Reality star Jessica Mulroney reportedly got into a feud with black blogger Sasha Exeter and may have taken it to the extremes. According to an Instagram live video shared by Exeter, the blogger claimed the “Good Morning America” host took offense with a call-to-action she shared, threatening to end her career as a result.
She also claimed Mulroney accused her of unfair treatment. Days after the live video went viral, the talk show host, who is a friend of Megan Markle, saw her career crumble.
“GMA” took to their Twitter platform to announce the “I Do, Redo,” star would no longer appear as a fashion contributor on the show. Her reality TV show was also taken off the air as a result.
5. Pharrell Williams
Being black has not stopped some celebrities from standing in favor of racial profiling, or blurting out remarks that may be considered offensive. One such celebrity is producer and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams.
In a 2014 interview with Oprah Winfrey, the icon shared his thoughts on the subject. He implied being black was not about pigmentation, but a mentality that could either work for someone or not. Going further, Williams said people needed to pick a side. Many deemed his remark a call to choose between black or white.
Following the interview, Williams faced backlash across media platforms, with many condemning his comments as racially biased. The public onslaught forced Williams, to clarify his statement, saying he was just speaking for himself and not the culture.
6. Azealia Banks
Azealia Banks has also been subject to media backlash over horrifyingly racist remarks on Twitter. She utilized the platform to blast former One Direction singer Zayn Malik, a British-Pakistani.
She accused him of acting like a white boy pretending to be black. The songstress also described him as lost and cultureless. She proceeded to haul sexist slurs at him, tagging him as “Punjab” throughout the rant.
Banks’ invectives came off as islamophobic, homophobic, and racist, earning her the inactivation of her Twitter account. Although the femcee later apologized to Malik over her horrifying outburst, the internet never forgets.
7. Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson has a reputation for being a hater of equality and he did not earn it in a day. The actor and director, who is famously outspoken, have made racist comments about African-Americans, Latinos, and Jews in times past.
While most of his antics went unchecked, the final strike for him came in 2010, when he allegedly hauled racial and sexist slurs at his girlfriend and baby mama.
The leaked confrontation, coupled with his discrimination history subjected Gibson to the cancel culture, making him an outcast in Hollywood for decades to come. Although showbiz seems to have accepted him back after years of canceling, he has never been able to achieve the Hollywood royalty status he once had.
8. Whoopi Goldberg
“The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg has pushed several racially-sensitive buttons over the years with her admirably outspoken nature.
One of her biggest attacks on racial diversity came in 2020 when the Oscar-winning actress said the Academy Awards couldn’t be racist because she once snagged a trophy despite her skin color.
As expected, her comments were met with widespread disapproval, especially among her fellow African-American population. But none compared to the backlash she received in 2022 from the Jewish community and the rest of the world.
The 66-year-old claimed the Holocaust was not about race, but about man’s inhumanity to man. The comment stirred a public outburst, forcing “The View” to give her a two-week suspension from the show.
The Hollywood legend rendered a public apology afterward, saying she already realized her mistakes and stood corrected. Upon her return to the show, she expressed how honored she was to be back, and how her job would keep requiring her to have some not-so-pretty conversations which were important to the nation and as a human entity.
So how far is too far when sharing one’s views about race? Perhaps only those at the receiving ends would ever know the real extent when stretched to the limits.