Ben Affleck is accused by Boston paper of being a ‘white liberal’ who hides ‘truths about racism’
Once, Boston’s lovable Ben Affleck was slammed by his hometown newspaper as a “white liberal” who hides the “truth about racism” years after he censored out of shame that he is a descendant of slave owners.
Affleck’s past was brought up by The Boston Globe columnist Renée Graham in the op-ed “Ben Affleck and White Liberals’ Discomfort with Black History,” published Tuesday.
Graham recalled the 50-year-old’s 2014 episode “Finding Your Roots” that aired on PBS, which excluded a clip where the actor learned about his slavery roots.
She denounced Affleck’s instinct to protect his family by asking producers to remove the clip, claiming that he “tacitly (endorses) a white supremacist history of this nation.”
“Instead of reckoning with a truth that has tarnished the very marrow of this nation — long before it was a nation — for more than four centuries, Affleck chose to protect his little piece of the myth of white purity,” Graham wrote.
Ben Affleck was slammed by The Boston Globe as a ‘white liberal’ hiding the ‘truth about racism’ after making a mistake years ago
The now 50-year-old appeared in ‘Finding Your Roots’ in 2014. The episode included a clip where the actor learned about his slavery roots
Affleck, a high-profile campaigner for liberal causes and former Massachusetts resident, asked PBS producers to cut the clip about his family history because he was deeply embarrassed, DailyMail.com first revealed in 2015.
“It makes me feel a bit weak to see a biological relationship to that. But you know, there it is, part of our history,” Affleck said in the clip, according to Graham.
Affleck later issued a mournful apology when a transcript of the cut clip came to light.
“After an extensive search of my ancestors for Finding Your Roots, it was discovered that one of my distant relatives owned slaves,” he wrote on social media in 2015.
“I didn’t want a man who owned slaves to appear on a television program about my family. I was humiliated. The thought alone left a bad taste in my mouth.’
The actor then explained his reason for withholding the information and the need to protect his family.
It is important to remember that this is not a news program. Finding Your Roots is a show where you volunteer a lot of information about your family, which makes you quite vulnerable,” he explained.
“The assumption is they will never be dishonest, but they will respect your willingness to participate and not try to include things that you think would embarrass your family.”
About eight years later, Graham cited Affleck’s grieving mistake, claiming that not acknowledging history only brings the country back.
“Honest conversations about the origins of this country are now met with ridicule and backlash,” Graham wrote. “With every movement away from the truth, we drag her along and what remains unspoken and unresolved crushes this country.”
While the Globe article claims that Affleck has “discomfort” with black history, the actor has not expressed this.
Affleck later issued a mournful apology when a transcript of the cut clip came to light
The slave owner in Affleck’s family tree was identified by the actor as “Benjamin Cole” of Georgia, an ancestor on his mother’s side. Pictured: Ben Affleck and his former Freedom Rider mom Chris Anne, seen in Los Angeles in 2014
Some people were outraged when they read that Affleck’s past came up years after the allegation had already been settled.
“When close allies come under attack, you know you are dealing with those who will NEVER be satisfied. Professional, perpetual victimization,” one person wrote on Twitter.
The slave owner in Affleck’s family tree was identified by the actor as “Benjamin Cole” from Georgia, an ancestor on her mother’s side.
His mother, Chris Anne, was featured on the show, not because her ancestor benefited from a contract, but because she had been a Freedom Rider.
An Affleck spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
Ben Affleck’s 2015 apology
After a thorough research of my ancestors for ‘Finding Your Roots’, it was discovered that one of my distant relatives owned slaves.
I didn’t want a TV show about my family to feature a man who owned slaves. I was humiliated. The thought alone left a bad taste in my mouth.
Skip decided what went into the show. I lobbied him the same way I lobbied directors about what I think they should use from me. This is the collaborative creative process. Skip agreed with me about the slave owner, but made other choices that I disagreed with. In the end it’s his show and I knew that when I went in. I am proud to be his friend and proud to have participated.
It is important to remember that this is not a news program. Finding Your Roots is a show where you volunteer a lot of information about your family, which leaves you quite vulnerable. The assumption is that they will never be dishonest, but they will respect your willingness to participate and not try to include things that you think would embarrass your family.
I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery would not be included in the story. We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the level of interest in this story suggests that as a nation we still struggle with the terrible legacy of slavery. It is an investigation worth pursuing. I’m glad my story contributes, however indirectly, to that discussion. While I don’t like the man being an ancestor, I’m glad that aspect of our country’s history is being talked about.