Mark Wahlberg Wants a Pardon for Past Racist Actions…Should He Get It?

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Mark Wahlberg, all suited up and ready to do business.

*Two things about history: One, you can’t erase it just because you grow up; and two, you have a choice to repeat it or learn from it and move forward as best you can. Former rapper turned respected Hollywood actor and businessman Mark Wahlberg probably wishes his past could be erased…but knowing it can’t, he’s hoping it can at least be pardoned.

Do you believe in second chances? If you do, should they stop at Mark Wahlberg?

In case you are one of many people with a short memory, here’s a little history on Wahlberg, Not the actor he is today, the former racist terrorist and felon.

Before Mark became famous as an actor in films such as “Boogie Nights,” “Planet of the Apes,” and “The Departed” – the last of which garnered him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor, he was just a reckless teen who enjoyed doing drugs, fronting his rap group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch and being a racist bully who found a wicked sense of pleasure in activities like chasing down black schoolchildren while yelling racist slurs and throwing rocks at them; and beating people up (nearly blinding one man) just because, well, just because they weren’t white.

Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself.

Wahlberg did some time for these activities…he served 45 days of a two-year jail term. I don’t know the details…Good behavior, white privilege.

The point is, yes, the brother of New Kids on the Block alum, Donnie Wahlberg, has a sorted past.

The young, thugged-out, racist Mark Wahlberg who led Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch
The young, thugged-out, racist Mark Wahlberg who led Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch

But so do a lot of folks.

And if he can be pardoned and given a second chance at life, shouldn’t they be able to as well?

So now he has petitioned Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, an African American, to have part of his violent past pardoned so that he can broaden his business empire: the Wahlburgers fast-food chain.

I guess you can say his future in business is now in the hands of a black man. How’s that for irony?

Not unlike the writer of the original article on this topic in The, I have no problem with Wahlberg’s request, and hope it’s approved. The guy is a perfect example of how anyone, no matter how horrible and seemingly racist, can be reformed. After all, when is the last time he publicly beat the crap out of anyone while screaming racist slurs… 1992…when he beat up his neighbor?

According to The Root’s article, black men’s sentences for crimes similar to white men usually are 20 percent longer. But black men and boys get caught up in the system quickly; are labeled “thugs” and become dehumanized.

It’s the rare few that get to do what Wahlberg did: do the crime, do the time, then grow up. It’s the textbook example of white privilege. It’s a highly unfair system, but will keeping Wahlberg from making more millions via a criminal record make our justice system any fairer?


The Root reports there’s an estimated 5.85 million people with felony convictions in the United States, and 1 out of every 13 African Americans can’t vote because of a felony conviction. These people, many of whom are black, must be, should be,  integrated back into society. If they’ve done their time, their punishment must end, not be revised.

The Aqua Hydrate Press Conference in West Hollywood

They should have the right to reform themselves. These people with felonies may not be Mark Wahlberg, a now-devout Catholic family man shilling burgers on a reality-TV show, but they should get the same chance as him, and get the support they need to find a way to become productive citizens whether or not they ever apologize for being A-holes.

No, people shouldn’t have to be 100% error-free to get a second chance. They should just be required to do their time and pay their debt.

No one but Mark Wahlberg knows if he is still a racist, but do we really care? Being a racist jerk isn’t illegal. Nor is wearing sagging pants or listening to really loud rap music in public places. Is it right to keep demanding that individuals stay tarnished forever because we have no guarantee they will be rehabilitated? If that remains the case why do we bother releasing people from prison if the intention is to create a permanent felon underclass?

Don’t pardon Mark Wahlberg because he’s a celebrity. Pardon him and other people who’ve paid their debts to society because these individuals still have to live among us. They’re still people, including those African Americans with felonies. And if Mark Wahlberg, teenage terrorist, can be reformed, anyone can.

Let’s give them that chance.

Below are a few agencies dedicated to assisting those with criminal pasts integrate back into society. Find more here.

The Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions

Safer Foundation


Thanks to  Danielle C. Belton at The Root for portions of this article.

4 thoughts on “Mark Wahlberg Wants a Pardon for Past Racist Actions…Should He Get It?”

  1. Being a white woman who grew up in a single parent home by a mother who was dumped by her husband in the 60’s and never received a dime of child support, but was able to raise 6 children by herself in a ghetto, I say no he should not get a pardon. When my parents divorced we lost our beautiful home and I was moved to a ghetto because we had no money. My welcome to the neighborhood at 10 years old was a beaten by two black girls because I was white and wouldn’t let them take my bike. I didn’t hate black people for it. I feared them, but I forgave them because I’m sure they feared white people just as much for the treatment they received just for being black. I didn’t take my pain out on anyone, I dealt with it and I pulled myself up from the bootstraps and worked hard and became a very successful woman. Forty years later I can honestly say I still think of those two girls who beat me, because I am white. I forgive them, but what they did should not be forgotten. Who knows, they may feel remorse and they might not feel any remorse, but what they did cannot be erased and when someone chooses to hurt others because of their skin color they must bear the consequences and try to be a better person. Just as we should not expect the atrocities of slavery to be erased we should not expect our past transgressions to be erased, because we see how stupid we have been. Live with it and learn from it. Be a better person and remember your bad choices in the past can’t be undone, but can be a lesson to change and become a better and more loving human being.

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