Actress Michelle Williams was recently cast in “Oz the Great and Powerful.” Should be a career boost, right? Right. Unless you go on the record comparing munchkins in a movie to Native Americans’ fight for life and land in the United States.
“Quadlings, Tinkers and Munchkins didn’t mean much to me; it wasn’t my language,” Williams said of the groups of misfits her character benevolently rules over in an interview with the Los Angeles Times last week. “But when I thought of them as Native Americans trying to inhabit their land or about women getting the right to vote, it made a lot more sense.”
Colorlines.com fam and The Nation blogger Aura Bogado wrote an open letter to Williams to address the matter. Bogado writes:
Native Americans are not Munchkins, Ms. Williams—and neither were the suffragettes who fought for your right to vote. To even suggest a comparison between imaginary Munchkins in a film and Natives in real life fighting for untold stakes is perilous because it sustains the entirely racist notion that Natives are cute creatures that require safekeeping. Unlike the costume you wore and later discarded, Natives cannot shake off five centuries of injustice after a photo shoot. There is no photo shoot. The struggle for Native land, sovereignty, healthcare, education and even running water remain real yet silent. That silence is only deepened when you make ludicrous statements that liken Natives to Munchkins.