Tom Hanks isn’t woke enough for National Public Radio, whose TV critic faulted Hanks for not going far enough in his recent New York Times op-ed in which the actor urged Hollywood to do more to address the role racism has played in U.S. history.
“It is not enough,” critic Eric Deggans wrote in a recent essay. “So I am saying it is time for folks like Hanks to be anti-racist.”
The critic also faulted Hanks for repeatedly playing “righteous white men” in movies including Saving Private Ryan and Apollo 13. “In other words, he is a baby boomer star who has built a sizable part of his career on stories about American white men Doing the Right Thing,” the critic wrote.
In his essay, NPR critic Eric Deggans implied Hanks is guilty of “amplifying ideas of white American exceptionalism and heroism.” He said the actor must now atone by “helping dismantle and broaden the ideas” that people like him “helped cement in the American mind.”
Last week, Tom Hanks penned an op-ed for the Times in which he urged schools to do more to teach about the history of black people, specifically the Tulsa Race Massacre on 1921. The two-time Oscar winner said Hollywood needs to do the same.
“Today, I think historically based fiction entertainment must portray the burden of racism in our nation for the sake of the art form’s claims to verisimilitude and authenticity,” Hanks wrote.
But that clearly wasn’t enough for NPR’s critic.
“If he really wants to make a difference, Hanks and other stars need to talk specifically about how their work has contributed to these problems and how they will change,” Deggans wrote. “They need to make specific commitments to changing the conversation in story subjects, casting and execution. That is the truly hard work of building change.”
Deggans said it is time Hanks became an “anti-racist” — a term used by proponents of critical race theory to describe forms of activism that white people can participate in, from confessing their “white privilege” to supporting movements like Black Lives Matter.
“Anti-racism implies action – looking around your universe and taking specific steps to dismantle systemic racism,” he wrote. “As a star who can get a movie made just by agreeing to appear in it, what will Tom Hanks, movie star, actually do?”
Tom Hanks supported the presidential campaigns Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden. Last year, Hanks and wife Rita Wilson backed Michelle Obama’s We All Vote initiative, which aggressively promoted vote by mail during the presidential election.
Hanks ranks among Hollywood’s most charitable celebrities, supporting veterans causes as well as space exploration groups. His philanthropic work also reportedly encompasses AIDS research, clean energy, and arts education.