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How Betty White Was Ahead of Her Time

With it nearly being a month since Betty White’s passing, it is crucial to acknowledge the waves she made with her seven decades in the entertainment industry. Not only has she paved the way for countless female actors who followed her, but managed to do so by holding views that were deemed controversial or questionable in her time. Here are three things she did:

She Supported Racial Equality

In 1954, Betty White hosted her own show and often talked with people of color on-screen. One person she frequently conversed with despite racist backlash was a tap dancer named Arthur Duncan. In a time where Brown v. Board of Education just came to the Supreme Court, racial injustices towards African American people brewed and countless higher-ups wanted Duncan off of the show. However, White’s response was simple: “he stays, live with it.” White continued to be outspoken about her support for people of color throughout her life.

She Advocated For LGBTQIA+ Rights 

Through television roles and interviews throughout the years, Betty White was also outspoken about her support for LGBTQIA+ rights. In The Golden Girls, her character was not only flattered to receive compliments from a girl, but was the first (in television history) to acknowledge the significance of the AIDS epidemic. White also made her stance on LGBTQ+ people clear to the public, saying in a Parade interview, “Gays love old ladies.” Given that this was a time where acceptance was considered sinful, White’s opinion clearly won the favor of a demographic that was actively fighting for their rights.  

She Was Child-free

Betty White’s dedication to her career left her little room to do much in her spare time. However, she had no regrets, noting in previous interviews that she would have had to give up her career. The concept of being child-free has always been a topic of discussion, particularly in White’s time. In fact, the pressure of having children is something that often continues to plague adults, particularly women, today. However, her choice to focus on her career appealed to her own lifestyle and made her happy. Additionally, it stirred up controversy, yet garnered support from those who wished to not have children. 

Betty White’s legacy continues to make waves as people celebrate her and credit her for supporting movements that impact people today. With her unwavering support and dedication that she left to those she entertained, she will continue to be missed. However, White will live on and her values will continue to be acknowledged through those she touched. 

Kayla Batchelor

UC Riverside '23

I'm an English major that is dedicated to writing about mental health, entertainment, relationships, politics, LGBTQIA+ issues, and literature.
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