Jessica Chastain Just Got Into A Heated Twitter Debate About White Privilege

Photo: Ki Price/Getty Images.
Scroll through Jessica Chastain's Twitter feed and you'll find her sharing her feelings on The Night Of finale (she wasn't a fan), going after CBS' lack of diversity, and occasionally clapping back at trolls who don't want to pay for women's healthcare. Today, though, you'll would find a tearful video from Chastain asking for "transformative social change.”
“I’m making a video because my heart is very heavy,” she said in the clip, which she captioned "I'm here for you & I'm listening." “I’ve learned so much the past few days about the trauma many people are experiencing in our country. I’ve had the opportunity to listen, more than to speak, and it’s really hard for me to express my feelings, my thoughts, in 140 characters.”
Holding back tears, Chastain continues by telling fans, “I want you to know that I’m committed to creating transformative social change, that I’m committed to dismantling systems of oppression. I share in the sadness of what is happening in the country. I hear you.”
So what sparked this emotional response from Chastain? People reported that Chastain posted the video after having a heated Twitter exchange with a fan over white privilege just a few days before.
The debate started after Chastain tweeted a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote about the need for non-violent solutions, writing, "'Returning violence for violence multiplies violence' I'm here for changing the world through peaceful protests, calling my reps, and VOTING."
This tweet came after Chastain shared a Time article with the headline "Why The Alt-Left Is The Problem." "Interesting article," she wrote. "If we resort to violence as a way to combat hate, we become what we are fighting."
But a follower urged Chastain to read further into some of King, Jr.'s work, citing an excerpt from his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" in 1963, in which he wrote, "I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice."
Surprisingly, Chastain responded, writing, "If the color of my skin is going to cause you to generalize, perhaps you shd look back over whether or not I've been silent to injustice." The follower than clarified why they had posted this quote: "i am merely saying that telling people whom the 'alt-right' want to kill not to fight back is not helpful. if someone wants to kill me + debating them isn't going to help. calling my reps isn't going to help me in that moment. please listen to people without your privileges."
Chastain then wrote, "Nonviolent protest has NOTHING to do with self defence [sic]. Please look at the last article I posted. Data shows that nonviolence works better." She then responded to another person, explaining, that she was "not speaking about nonviolence in the place of self defence [sic]. If a Nazi tried to hurt you, I would fight alongside to protect you."
It was the follower, though, who got the final word: "i cannot turn the other cheek while others use their 'free speech' to advocate genocide, enact violence on POC/lgbt community/etc while the state refuses to punish them. we live in a world where the alt right barely gets arrested for cville and standing rock gets rubber bullets and fire hoses in freezing weather. violence takes many forms outside the most recognizable."
It's unclear if this follower is why Chastain decided to acknowledge her privilege, but there's no doubt that listening to those who are being most affected by the system is an important step to enacting "transformative social change.”
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