Bryan Cranston, newly woke: ‘Make America Great Again’ is totally racist

I won’t say that Bryan Cranston has always been 100% unproblematic. He’s an intelligent man who has sometimes said stupid sh-t. But what I like about Cranston is that he actually listens – when he says sh-t and there’s a backlash, he sits back and he listens and he tries to figure out how to do better. So, we’re in the “no zealot like a convert” era of Cranston’s woke politics. He had a come-to-Jesus moment several years ago over the Trump administration’s terrible racism, plus the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the importance of critical race theory. Last year, he spoke about being in his 60s and needing to change, needing to understand his own white privilege. Well, in recent days, Cranston has appeared on Chris Wallace’s CNN show and Bill Maher’s show… and he’s arguing that we need more education on race and racism, basically. I assume he’s trying to reach the people who… would watch a Chris Wallace or Bill Maher talk show.

The importance of critical race theory: Cranston briefly shared that he finds it “difficult to try to find truly unbiased reporting news,” before reiterating his previous sentiments about his support of teaching critical race theory. “I think it’s imperative that it’s taught, that we look at our history, much the same. I think that Germany has looked at their history in involvement in the wars, one and two, and embraced it and say, ‘This is where we went wrong. This is how it went wrong. This is why it can’t go wrong again,’” Cranston said.

We need to talk about slavery: He noted that Germany had done a “very commendable job” with their public reckoning of the Holocaust, but that the U.S. “really hasn’t” confronted its historical relationship to slavery in the same way. “You present it and say, ‘Well, 400 years of slavery, yeah, but we’re moving on, we’re moving on,”‘ he said. “And it’s like, ‘No, let’s really discuss it. How did that happen? How did we get to a point where we treated other human beings as slaves? And we’re OK with that?’”

“MAGA” is racist: “When I see ‘Make America Great Again,’ my comment is, ‘Do you accept that that could possibly be construed as a racist remark?'” Cranston said to Wallace. “A lot of people go, ‘How could that be racist, to make America great again?’ I said, ‘So just ask yourself from an African-American experience: When was it ever great in America for the African-American? So if you’re making it great again, it’s not including them.’ It’s to teach us, in the ‘woke’ world, to open up and accept the possibilities that our privilege has created blind spots for us. Maybe I haven’t seen what’s really happening, in all my years.”

[From THR & EW]

I live in a state (Virginia) where the current governor ran on a platform of anti-wokeness and anti-critical-race-theory. His campaign was just as stupid and racist as you would imagine. The whole thing was basically: public schools are going to teach your children about Black folks, isn’t that horrible?? Nevermind that critical race theory – and the whole 1619 Project – were meant as supplementary educational tools for college-level courses. The current governor of Virginia conflated all of that with a platform of… kids shouldn’t read Black authors or be taught about slavery. Seriously.

Anyway, to me, what Cranston is saying in these interviews seems very obvious and very much like a mainstream conversation that people have been having for years already. But I’m not the audience for this and I appreciate that Cranston is trying to, like, reach these people? I find this particular audience to be a lost cause, but Cranston doesn’t and bless his heart.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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29 Responses to “Bryan Cranston, newly woke: ‘Make America Great Again’ is totally racist”

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  1. It Really Is You, Not Me says:

    I think Cranston is a hero to a lot of the audience he’s directing this to, so even if he’s late to the game and even if he only reaches 10% of them and convinces them to think differently than they did before, then I will be thankful for even a little progress. It’s sort of like that movie pay it forward — it could start small and snowball.

    • Layla Beans says:

      I agree totally. If he can help some people unglue their minds from the Trump train, let him at it.

    • ThatsNotOkay says:

      He is an intense, passionate person. It’s good to have him on the right side, carting his passion for justice and reevaluation with him. Now I can love Tim Whatley even more.

  2. Lucy says:

    I watched a clip of it, he was intense and at the same time he came across as reasonable us the only way I can describe it. He knows he’s talking to an audience that’s been brainwashed and wants to reach them. I commend that. I hope it reaches somebody, I don’t have a lot though.

    • lanne says:

      I’m glad he’s the one saying this. The people who need to hear it need to hear it from a white man they admire. It’s not the job of black people to educate white people about America’s problematic past. It’s time for white people to grapple with it openly, start looking at some of their unexamined biases, and and learning the truth that so many fear to confront or don’t even want to acknowledge.

      We teach mythology in our history classes in the US. Not history. We need to reckon with our history in the US just like Germany did after WW2, and how South Africa did in the 1990s with the Truth and Reconciliation commission. Those efforts aren’t perfect, but they’re better than the hard-faced, brittle denial and jingoism we have here in the US.

      • Emily_C says:

        Which history classes are you talking about? In which states? Each state has a completely different curriculum. I learned about all the stuff that people keep saying “we” don’t teach back in the 90s. We read slave memoirs. We knew Jefferson raped one of his slaves. We were, in fact, taught all of this stuff that people are talking about now — and more, because we also learned a lot about indigenous people, worker’s rights and struggles, women’s rights and struggles, and so much more. This was in a small town in Michigan that was almost entirely white.

        States and school districts having these massively different curricula is a serious problem. But this country is fractured, and it starts early.

  3. Jttrain says:

    When Neil Patrick Harris came out, my grandmother changed her entire opinion on the lgbtq+ community. As someone who only knew him from his tv personalities, she couldn’t believe it. She was forced to reconcile with her perceptions to continue to watch her favorite show at the time.

    Although it shouldn’t be necessary, when people like Cranston talk to people that don’t get it, it can be very effective.

  4. TwinFalls says:

    We need more people who look and sound like him making these same statements. I appreciate his efforts.

    • phaedra7 says:

      He may have been trying to voice his views without sounding too “radical”. Just. My. Observation. 🤷‍♀️

  5. K8erade says:

    I have nothing but respect for Bryan. He’s openly grappling with his own biases on public platforms and showing others how to do so. I’d say I wish there were more older white cishet men like him but I really want to be optimistic and believe that while he’s speaking to a minority he represents a majority. As a WOC, I’ll have a hard time living in this country if that is not true.

  6. Lisa says:

    He’s made a lot more progress than some of the men in my family. I’ll take it.

  7. Alarmjaguar says:

    That headline initially scared me because my teenage son loves Bryan Cranston and I thought it was the opposite of what it said. I’m so glad because he needs someone to look up to who is saying things like this, I’m grateful.

  8. HeyKay says:

    Good luck to him in changing peoples minds about anything.
    In the past 4-5 years I’ve had several relatives go over the edge in their thinking, almost complete personality changes.
    Is it Trump? Was it Covid? Are they aging and afraid of change? Stubborn? Cruel?
    1 went from hippie to born again evangelical who now insists that if I don’t convert and join her church she no longer can speak to me. I keep trying to “find” who she used to be, but that person has gone.
    Another has turned anti-vax and stone cold Trump lover. Trump is all she talks about, ever.
    I don’t know if it’s age related or what but a whole lot of people I have known my entire life are shutting down on open thinking and going hard core “I want what I want and to hell with everybody else”

    Here is my perfect example..A relative heard that a school district has kids now id’ing as furries and the school has been forced to provide litter boxes. She has been on this for months now.
    It is not true, it has never been true, the schools have repeatedly stated this has never been true. How many times can you try to reach someone with this kind of thinking?

    Keep trying. Keep helping when you can.

    • Kate says:

      My mom heard that same furry rumor from someone at her hair salon who told it as if it happened at a local school district where someone she knows worked so it must be making the rounds on facebook. My mom is a democrat and I’d like to think well-meaning but even she repeated it to me wondering if this is true and if so whether respecting people’s pronouns isn’t a slippery slope and maybe kids are just doing this for attention and a power grab. AND SHE HAS A TRANS GRANDSON. I got so upset that she repeated that to me and gave her a hopefully kind lecture but I’m sure she probably felt attacked reminding her that we need to be allies and speak up when something doesn’t sound right. And to use more skepticism and google stories like this that sound off. And if she can’t do that to at least not wonder aloud about these topics to others because that is how false rumors are spread and people’s opinions are formed. Ugh. I don’t know what’s happening to people either.

      • lucy2 says:

        I heard that rumor too, someone heard it was happening in their nearby school district. I said “that sounds fake” immediately but they believed it.

        Bryan is an incredibly talented actor, and if he’s using his platform to try to reach people, great. I also appreciate him looking at his own biases and privilege, and talking about it. Most people don’t – especially older white guys.

      • Tiffany:) says:

        “ use more skepticism and google stories like this that sound off. And if she can’t do that to at least not wonder aloud about these topics to others because that is how false rumors are spread and people’s opinions are formed”

        YES!! 100000x, yes to this!
        People have lost all ability to weigh the quality of information.

      • Bisynaptic says:

        A “power grab “—because trans kids don’t deserve power.

  9. Jm says:

    Honestly, this is what we need white boomer men to be doing. There are whole swaths of general population that won’t be reached by any amount of education from women or PoC. The MAGAts will probably just try to cancel him, but at least he’s using his privilege in a way that might reach a few people who wouldn’t have been reached before.

  10. Fuzzy Crocodile says:

    I feel like I learn something new… become more aware… have a realization… every day. It’s a process and I feel like I have to put work into it. I want to put the work into it. There are still biases and privileges and blind spots that I continue to wrap my head around. On top of that, it can be a challenge figuring out how to have those conversations with the people around me.

    It’s unfortunately not always as straightforward as turning on a light switch.

    So, good for him to open that door to have the conversation. And I hope his perspective continues to grow and open. For me, I want to be a good person and a good human towards others, and it can take work, self-education and standing up.

  11. Beverley says:

    I have respect for white folks who are willing to unpack their racist baggage. Bryan Cranston is using his position to speak up, something I wish a whole lot more white people would do.

  12. Annaloo. says:

    Have you seen the clips of Ann Coulter suddenly woke on black Americans. I nearly fell out of my chair from shock

  13. Kingston says:

    By all means, I welcome enlightenment whenever and whoever it strikes. But WTH is this supposed to mean:
    “It’s to teach us, in the ‘woke’ world, to open up and accept the possibilities that our privilege has created blind spots for us.”

    Isnt……..isnt this a crystal clear example of the extent to which racists and assorted others in the “anti-woke” brigade have corrupted the meaning of ‘woke,’ such that a well-intentioned man has inadvertently internalized the corrupt meaning of woke? Or misunderstands how its been corrupted? Or is it just a “mis-speak?”

    Because “……to teach us, in the woke world to open up and accept….that our privilege has created blind spots for us” is the opposite of what I imagine he meant to say.

    Those of us “in the woke world” are already awake to social, racial and other forms of injustice and are involved in its calling out. Its those in the “ANTI-woke world” who need to “open up and accept….that [their] privilege has created blind spots…….”

    Whew! Thats sorted.

    Imma go with “mis-speak.”

    • Frippery says:

      I think he was addressing those who are not woke but live in a woke world. He is referring to this current world as woke, and saying that people who are fighting against being woke need to wake up and look around them and inside them to address their own privileges and where they might come from. Not that the woke need to do those things.

      ….did I make it more or less confusing, lol

  14. RoyalBlue says:

    Oh God, I loved him in Seinfeld and Breaking Bad.

  15. tanesha86 says:

    I can appreciate everything he said in this interview but I’m also very frustrated. He’s not reinventing the wheel here, just regurgitating the same talking points Black activists and scholars have been making for generations. Folks are always so much receptive when the message is coming from a white man and that’s incredibly disheartening

  16. Cara says:

    Make America White Again was the original slogan.

  17. Dillesca says:

    To think that a whole swath of America is a ‘lost cause’ is pretty pessimistic… and I don’t think it’s helpful. There are so many forces that silo us into our own political camps, and good for Bryan Cranston to be speaking beyond that.

  18. Mauve says:

    I’d love to see Cranston play Youngkin in a mockumentary. I visited Jamestown for the first time recently and cannot imagine what that visit would’ve been like without the 1619 project. Such amazing work and I’m just so grateful for it. People are idiots.

  19. Annaloo. says:

    I’m not a purist, and I feel if you can do some good in the fight against racism- even if it only affects a small number of people to change – I will take it. I try not to let perfect be the enemy of the good, and every small step or gain is an increment in the right direction bc you are not going to ever change full swaths of people immediately. Racism is slow to build, and even slower to dismantle. It all goes too slow, but if someone is coming around, I’m going to hold my hand out to help, not my nose up in the air. Obama’s words about the long arc of justice applies to this too, I think we should be embracing of those who realize that they were wrong and need to change.