Hartley Sawyer Fired from The Flash Over Older Racist Tweets

As the Black Lives Matter movement rages on, Americans – both black and white – continue to come out in millions on the streets demanding racial justice.

Ever since George Floyd’s death, while in police custody triggered this widespread public angst, at least one thing has been achieved, which is the consensus that the onus of this fight for equality is no longer only on the oppressed but also on the oppressors.

Accountability is being demanded from the whole white community for the privilege they have enjoyed in this atmosphere of racial inequality, and the latest member is Hartley Sawyer. 

In a series of tweets, for which Sawyer has accepted complete responsibility for posting between 2011 and 2014, he made several racial and misogynistic statements in the name of jokes. He made comments about women’s breasts, violence against women, racism, and child molestation.

Ever since the tweets resurfaced, Sawyer deactivated his Twitter account, but they remain for all to see in screenshots here.

Hartley Sawyer fired from The Flash over racial tweets from six years ago
Hartley Sawyer

The decision to fire Sawyer from The Flash team came from the current showrunner, Eric Wallace, who confirmed the news on social media on June 8. Wallace also made a statement justifying why Sawyer could not return to The Flash cast after the incident. 

“Concerning his social media tweets, they broke my heart and made me mad as hell,” Wallace wrote. “And they’re indicative of the larger problem in our country. Because at present, our country still accepts and protects the continual harassment – unconscious or otherwise – terrorizing and brutalizing of Black and Brown people, which is far too often fatal. That’s why our country is standing up once again and shouting, ‘ENOUGH!’ and taking to the streets to bring about active change.”

Wallace went on to say that Sawyer’s tweets were an example of institutional racism, precisely the kind the protesters have been calling out in the ongoing agitation. 

“To those who still aren’t sure why so many Americans have taken to the streets to make their voices known, I ask you to consider this: Every time a Black or Brown life is harassed, harmed or murdered…our entire country fractures and moves further and further away from any moral authority we often claim to have in the world. Murder is not a democracy. Systemic and institutional white privilege is not equality… The only way for you to be free is for all of us to be free,” Wallace further wrote in the statement. 

Sawyer’s apology

Soon after Wallace’s statement, Sawyer deleted the account and issued a public apology for his past behavior online. He expressed regret and accepted complete responsibility for his actions and sincerely apologized.

Hartley Sawyer fired from The Flash over racial tweets from six years ago
Eric Wallace

Moreover, he did not even ask to be back on The Flash cast and accepted it as a consequence of his past behavior.

“My words, irrelevant of being meant with an intent of humor, were hurtful and unacceptable,” Sawyer wrote. “I am ashamed I was capable of these really horrible attempts to get attention at that time. I regret them deeply… I am incredibly sorry, ashamed, and disappointed in myself for my ignorance back then.”

He further apologized to his fellow cast and crew in The Flash for putting them through such a situation and also to his fans for failing to be a role model. 

“I’m not here to make excuses,” Sawyer wrote. “Regardless of the intention, my words matter, and they carry profound consequences. And mine can and have caused pain and embarrassment, along with feelings I can only imagine, to supporters and fans, my castmates, the crew, my colleagues and friends. I owe them all an apology. And I owe each of you an apology.”

Sawyer particularly won points for ending the apology with a note of gratitude to all those who called him and held him accountable. “Thank you for holding me accountable,” he added. 

Hartley Sawyer fired from The Flash over racial tweets from six years ago
The Flash

Sawyer, however, also clarified that the thoughts expressed in the tweets were no longer in line with his current understanding of racism and sexism. 

“Years ago, thanks to friends and experiences who helped me to open my eyes, I began my journey into becoming a more responsible adult – in terms of what I say, what I do, and beyond. I’ve largely kept that journey private, and this is another way that I have let so many down,” Sawyer wrote. 

While Sawyer’s apology has been a satisfactory one, that it fulfilled the main criteria of a genuine apology – accepting the fault, there are so many Sawyers still lurking in the industry alone, waiting to be called out.

We also know that not all of them will be as gracious and mature in handling them being talked out. But the good news is, we at least have a good example of a white man being called for his racial privilege and his abuse of it, even as he accepts full responsibility. 

Hartley Sawyer fired from The Flash over racial tweets from six years ago
Hartley Sawyer

However, I personally feel Sawyer should not be brought back to The Flash. They will need the fear of material loss and not just a subtler one of public shaming, in order to accept the problems in their behaviour going forth. 

In the recent past, there have been a string of celebrities who were called out for their previous behaviors but without much impact.

Disney fired James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3, but ultimately rehired him after Gunn’s responsible apologies and contrition. Kevin Hart stepped down from hosting The Oscars because they demanded an apology for prior homophobic tweets. Hartley did issue an apology on his Instagram account. 

Source: Cheat Sheet 

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

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