Actor Tom Hanks commented on how race is taught in schools in an opinion piece for the New York Times, contending that every child in America should be required to learn about black history, including the 1921 destruction of a community referred to as "Black Wall Street" in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Hanks, a self-described “lay historian,” wrote that implementing the intellectual movement known as critical race theory will improve and strengthen the education system.

“How different would perspectives be had we all been taught about Tulsa in 1921, even as early as the fifth grade? Today, I find the omission tragic, an opportunity missed, a teachable moment squandered,” he wrote.

The term critical race theory is often used in academic circles to describe how racism is embedded in all aspects of American life, and works to the benefit and privilege of white people, according to

A recent poll found that 80% of Americans have not heard of the term critical race theory or are unsure of whether they have, The Atlantic reports. However, that has not kept the issue from emerging as a hot-button political topic.

Earlier this week, former Vice President Mike Pence decried systemic racism in America as a “left-wing myth,” according to HuffPost. Last summer, President Donald Trump waged a campaign against the intellectual movement by threatening to defund California schools who taught the Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times' "1619 Project,” per CNN.

In Hanks’ Friday essay, the actor stood against conservative politicians in opposition, and expressed guilt over his role in an industry that "helps shape what is history and what is forgotten."

"History was mostly written by white people about white people like me, while the history of Black people — including the horrors of Tulsa — was too often left out," he wrote. "Until relatively recently, the entertainment industry, which helps shape what is history and what is forgotten, did the same. That includes projects of mine."

The 64-year-old also argues that educators "should also stop the battle to whitewash curriculums to avoid discomfort for students. America's history is messy but knowing that makes us a wiser and stronger people."

The 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient urged his peers in the entertainment industry to consider its impact in shaping the narrative of race. 

“Today, I think historically based fiction entertainment must portray the burden of racism in our nation for the sake of the art form's claims to verisimilitude and authenticity. Until recently, the Tulsa Race Massacre was not seen in movies and TV shows. Thanks to several projects currently streaming, like Watchmen and Lovecraft Country, this is no longer the case. Like other historical documents that map our cultural DNA, they will reflect who we really are and help determine what is our full history, what we must remember,” Hanks wrote.

According to, the bloody race massacre just passed its 100th anniversary. Over the span of two days in the summer of 1921, racist white Americans stormed the affluent Greenwood community of Tulsa, burning it to the ground and killing nearly 300 Black people.