In a comment for the New York Times on Friday, days after the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre, Hanks wrote that the story “is written mostly by whites about whites like me, while the story of blacks – including the horrors of Tulsa – was left out too often. “
“Until relatively recently, the entertainment industry, which helped shape history and the forgotten, did the same thing. That includes my projects,” he added.
And in a call to his colleagues, he said that “historically based fiction entertainment must portray the burden of racism in our nation for the art form’s claim to truthfulness and authenticity”.
Hanks has appeared in or produced a number of historic films and television series, including “The Band of Brothers,” “The Pacific” and “John Adams,” and has also played roles in documentaries about US history.
His message to filmmakers and producers comes after years of debate about the lack of diversity in the film industry, an issue that hits the headlines practically every award season.
Noting that the industry has begun to tell a wider variety of stories, Hanks cited the television series “Watchmen” and “Lovecraft Country” for portraying the Tulsa massacre.
A study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative last year found that 32% of the top grossing films in 2019 featured an under-represented actor in the lead or supporting role – a significant increase compared to the 13% in 2007, the study’s inaugural year.
But the field of nominations for the largest awards ceremonies in the industry is regularly criticized for its lack of diversity; the # OscarsSoWhite campaign has followed the Academy Awards for several years, while the Golden Globes this year have been embroiled in controversy over its predominantly white membership.
In the Tulsa massacre, which took place over two days in 1921, a white mob killed 300 black people and destroyed a once booming neighborhood in Oklahoma in one of the worst acts of racist violence in US history.
Its 100th anniversary was celebrated on Monday with a memorial day in the USA.
In a speech, US President Joe Biden also emphasized the elimination of the event from the American history discourse. “It wasn’t a riot. It was a massacre – one of the worst in our history, but not the only one, ”he said. “And forgotten by our history for too long. As soon as it happened, there was a clear attempt to erase it from our memories – our collective memories.”