Angelina Jolie: Americans are ‘not taught enough’ to respect other cultures & histories

Actress Angelina Jolie wearing Atelier Versace with Cartier jewelry arrives at the World Premiere Of Disney's 'Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil' held at the El Capitan Theatre on September 30, 2019 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States.

Angelina Jolie has written another Time Magazine column, because that’s what she does now! She’s still in lockdown in LA, and Angelina has had time (like never before) to write columns, Zoom with editors and keep her work going on refugees, women’s rights and children’s rights. In this week’s Time column, Angelina writes about how, even in this moment of a global conversation about racism, we need to think about refugees. Refugees are often the victims of racism, bigotry, sexism and persecution too. You can read her piece here. An excerpt:

As the burning injustice of discrimination and racism in America bursts to the forefront, we must also address persecution and oppression rising globally, depriving millions of their rights, their liberty and their physical safety. The U.N. Refugee Agency has published its latest annual report on the state of human displacement in the world and it is stark reading. Nearly 80 million people—the highest number since records began, according to available data—have been forced from their homes by extreme persecution and violence, and are living as refugees, asylum seekers or people displaced within their own countries. For the first time, forced displacement is affecting more than one percent of humanity, or 1 in every 97 people.

These are people fleeing attacks on schools and hospitals, mass sexual violence, the siege and starvation of whole cities, the murderous oppression of terrorist groups, and decades of institutionalized persecution based on religion, gender or sexuality.

It is not just the overall number of forcibly displaced people that is shocking. More people are being forced to leave their homes on a larger scale in more places and at one of the fastest rates in living memory. Global displacement has almost doubled since 2010. The number of refugees in sub-Saharan Africa has tripled in the same period. And the number of countries where the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is working to support internally-displaced people has gone from 15 in 2005 to 33 today. This is before the full economic devastation of COVID-19 strikes, threatening hunger and starvation and deeper insecurity for millions.

…Several factors seem to be at play. This past decade began with a global recession that has fueled hardship and anger and discontent. Many countries and communities around the world have shown extraordinary generosity to refugees living in their midst. But even as, across the world, refugee medics, nurses and healthcare workers serve on the frontline of the COVID-19 response, refugees are often regarded as a burden, greeted with xenophobia and racism, and denigrated and dehumanized in politics and the media.

…We are quick to criticize the human rights records of adversaries but silent when conflicts creating displacement and misery involve our allies. When we start to pick and choose which countries or peoples we help, from our humanitarian assistance to our asylum policies, we ourselves are discriminating: assigning different levels of importance to different peoples, races, religions and ethnicities, violating the fundamental principle that we are all born equal.

In our school years, we Americans are not taught enough to respect and admire the cultures and contributions of countries with histories far longer than our own. Or indeed to have a truly deep understanding of our own history, and the acts our country was built upon. That is one reason why, in my early twenties, I first wanted to work with UNHCR. What has become clear to me through my work is that the fight for human rights and equality is universal. It is one fight, wherever we live, and however different our circumstances might be.

[From Time Magazine]

“We are quick to criticize the human rights records of adversaries but silent when conflicts creating displacement and misery involve our allies.” This is very true, and I wish she would also say that we are quick to criticize other countries (even allies) even when our own human rights record in America is so appalling. “When we start to pick and choose which countries or peoples we help, from our humanitarian assistance to our asylum policies, we ourselves are discriminating.” We always have, from immigration policies to which refugees we’ve helped, to which wars we fight and why.

Angelina Jolie leaves Guerlain boutique and heads back to Hôtel de Crillon

Photos courtesy of WENN, Backgrid and Avalon Red.

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35 Responses to “Angelina Jolie: Americans are ‘not taught enough’ to respect other cultures & histories”

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  1. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Amen sister.

  2. Darla says:

    All very true.

  3. portobadisco11 says:

    She’s not wrong

  4. Nikki says:

    Heck, we don’t even know our own history.

  5. Dizzy says:

    Says the woman who wore black face in a Mighty Heart.

    • TeamMeg says:

      @Dizzy, I think you are missing something here. My understanding is that Marianne Pearl wanted Angelina, her friend, to play her role in the movie. I am sure that Marianne approved of Angelina’s costumes—including hair, makeup, and contact lenses—to increase AJ’s resemblance to the MP character. It was hardly a case of tone deaf blackface.

      • Original Jenns says:

        TeamMeg, just because one biracial woman is ok with a white woman playing her in a movie, doesn’t speak for all people of color. Angie was wrong to do this. We all have a lot to learn and over come and not making excuses for past actions is a good start. We can all do better, even Angelina! And that’s OK.

      • Green Desert says:

        Dizzy makes a good point…I don’t think Angelina has ever addressed this. I know a lot of commenters here love her, but I don’t think she should be above criticism. To @TeamMeg…it’s still blackface. I know Pearl is her friend, but she absolutely should not have played her.

      • lucy2 says:

        I had forgotten about that.
        Just looked up Mariane Pearl, according to her, her father’s side is Dutch, her mother is Cuban with Chinese, Spanish, and African ancestors.
        Mariane did handpick her for the role, but there was an attempt in the film to alter Angelina’s appearance, using darker makeup and a different hair texture than her own, which I think is…not good. I wonder if the film were made today, if the same decisions would be made.

      • TeamMeg says:

        I absolutely can see why it was problematic to cast Angelina in this role, no question. Even if Mariane Pearl wanted AJ to play her. At the same time, I don’t think Angelina’s having played the role cancels her right to pen this Time article, nor all the decades of work she’s done for refugees and POC worldwide, which is what @Dizzy’s snide comment suggests.

      • Em says:

        Im with Team Meg on this. She deserves to be called out on this and she should speak up about it but then we all need to move on. The idea that she can’t have anything constructive or useful to say following one mistake feeds into cancel culture, which I hate. Mistakes are made for us to all learn and grow. How can we do that if we write off anyone who messes up?

      • Barbiem says:

        I thought it was laughable she played a biracial women of color. If she was friends with Coretta King and Mrs king asked jolie to play her in a movie would she do it? Just cause she asked doesnt mean she had to say yes. On the flip side, the lady was half white, maybe she identified as white, idk. Best to cast biracial actor for sake of authincity but she is half white… idk good points all the around.

      • Otaku fairy says:

        +1, Em, Team Meg, and Green Desert. Your criticisms are valid, and not dehumanizing. Like you said, it doesn’t cancel out everything else. You’re also not using it as a pass for MRA behavior. That’s great because it’s equal to the way we’re allowed to treat male allies- we can criticize problematic things they’ve done but still care about things like poverty, homophobia (when applicable), health issues, etc. they experienced in life, and that affect other people.

    • MarJo says:

      She did not wear black face. And she was playing a white Cuban with some Asian ancestor, no?

      • Rainy says:

        yeah its not like Jimmy kimmel wearing blackface and saying the n-word so many times and making fun of the black culture.

      • Green Desert says:

        Fine…brownface. She darkened her skin. She played a biracial woman and she is not biracial. Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell were doing this with ANIMATED characters and appropriately called out. This was a real live movie. But because it’s AJ many of you don’t see it as the dumb choice it was. She should acknowledge and apologize and that’s it. I’m not likening her to white supremacists.

    • MA says:

      +1 Angelina needs to check her own privilege and reconcile her own acts. But she’s also 100% right here and that doesn’t detract from the message. Let’s not defend brownface even if we like her.

    • Kay says:

      Yet she still wanted to play Cleopatra in the movie. She also admires Winston Churchill and has political advisors/friends from the right wing UK Tory Party – Chloe Dalton etc. a party that is hostile to immigrants and refugees.

    • Ange says:

      While I think it’s not good to take over parts meant for people of colour when you start ignoring the stated wishes of the person being portrayed are you doing any better or just talking over them in the paternalistic manner the community has suffered under for centuries? Marianne’s voice matters, not your grandstanding on her behalf.

    • ad says:

      Marian Pearl story & produced by Pitt!

  6. CatWomen says:

    We aren’t teaching about slavery correctly. Let me just digresss..while watching the Crown I was fascinated by Tommy Lacelles. This character turns out to be the younger son of the Earl of Harewood and that family goes all the way back to 1600 and in the 1700s were the largest slave owners in Barbados exporting sugar. This got me into reading on slave trading. History is really personal in so many ways. Point is also, these people ‘serving’ the royals and ‘advising’ them appear to be peers or relatives of. English history really helps you understand why we’re where we are at.

    Still admire Jolie.

  7. Sierra says:

    Well said

  8. Original Jenns says:

    Love her. I know there is so much work to be done everywhere, but I’m hoping she makes her way to the border and really turns the heat up on our families still in cages! She is truly an incredible human being, we need more people like her, and while it’s not fair to put pressure on her children and their own hopes and dreams, I am wishing that maybe two of them go into humanitarian work, so we have double the Jolie.

  9. Ryan says:

    She’s right. Once you leave this country and experience the tolerance levels of other countries, or even just the integration and overall acceptance of different peoples, it really becomes quite stark, those differences.

    • Kat says:

      I didn’t expect to read this! I wouldn’t say other nations are necessarily LESS tolerant or welcoming but I didn’t feel they are more those things either. Which countries are you thinking of? S few places In my travels stand out: china, Greece and France all seemed more nationalistic and ethnocentric than the US or Canada. Greek people I encountered casually were always telling me they don’t like either the Turks or the Italians (their neighbours.) I can’t think of any country which has more integration so please share As I’m quite curious. Japan purposely has low immigration for cultural reasons. Koreans who have lived there for generations are not assimilated and are still discriminated against. I’ve heard Germany is very welcoming and peaceful but since I haven’t been there, can’t comment at all. Maybe you’re talking about South America ?

      • Mina_Esq says:

        Kat – I was born and raised in Europe. Yes, there is sadly lots of nationalism and intolerance, but the point is knowledge – people learn about their history and about the history and politics of other countries. For example, I’m not Greek or Turkish but could tell you why your Greek friend dislikes the Turks because I learned in fifth grade about the Ottoman Empire and how it shaped regional politics for hundreds of years after it fell. They don’t deny that atrocities like Holocaust and apartheid happened and that they continue to influence modern realities, for example. In US, on the other hand, there is this constant effort to distance the country from the shame of slavery (just look at McConnell’s comments on restitution a few weeks ago!). How can you address a problem if you deny its reality and the pain it still causes? Look at people denying that systemic racism is real! Meanwhile, we want to go into other countries and preach to them about their human rights violations, etc. These are complicated issues. Step 1 is to educate ourselves.

  10. Lively says:

    She’s right…America will never heal until the education system is reformed and reparations are made.
    I’m an African and the history of Africa before slavery is just never taught anywhere. Then again I went to school in England I highly doubt they care enough to teach.
    Is there any African educated in Africa here? And what did your history studies like??

  11. MarJo says:

    Not only Americans are not taught to respect other cultures and histories, the truth is they do not know the bare minimum about other cultures and histories.

  12. Kay says:

    She also likes right wing Ayn Rand. Which is discredited. I think her politics is very muddled.

  13. emu says:


  14. ad says:

    The BLM has open a can of worms, how will they ever address & ensure that they achieve all these issues. A long list indeed. They have to addressed & review urgently their policing strategies & techniques first of all which caused the main issue & created BLM!

  15. Hope says:

    No news about pax’ ig instastory?