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During a US interview with PBS’ Tavis Smiley, Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch was comparing the opportunities in the entertainment industry for black people in the US as compared to UK. While talking about the difficulties that black actors had to face in the UK, he referred to them as ‘colored’. Cumberbatch said:
“I think as far as colored actors go, it gets really different in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here [meaning in the US] than in the UK, and that’s something that needs to change.”
Benedict Cumberbatch had gone under fire after this incident, and had to apologize shortly after. He stated that he felt ‘devastated’ to have caused offense to the people. However, despite his controversial remark, he had been appreciated greatly by the anti-racism charity for the positive message he was trying to deliver, but his use of the word ‘colored’ while referring to people from ethnic minorities caused objections.
Due to the racial remark involved in the conversation, the message he seemed to be trying to convey was not given enough attention. In an attempt to point out a serious issue, the term ‘colored actors’ messed it all up for the actor. An SRtRC (Show Racism the Red Card) spokesperson applauded and appreciated the message while talking to The Independent. He said that a very important issue concerning the film industry and our society today, has been highlighted by Benedict Cumberbatch. He felt that in conveying this message, he has also unintentionally pointed out the issue of the evolution of language and the right terminologies to address minorities; in this case black people. He expressed that Show Racism the Red Card feel that the term ‘colored’ to address black people is now outmoded, and has the potential to cause offense.
Various users on the social media, specifically on twitter, were found to be quite disappointed by the actor’s choice of words after watching the interview. Benedict Cumberbatch was asked to apologize for this racial remark by the people, which he did later on.
On Monday, after the interview, he accepted his mistake, and apologized specifically for using this outdated term. Cumberbatch said:
“I’m devastated to have caused offence by using this outmoded terminology. I offer my sincere apologies. I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done.”
He continued by saying he could only hope that his mistake would raise awareness regarding the appropriate and inappropriate usage of terminologies to address groups. He added that the most shameful fact for him about this incident was that when he delivered this remark, he was actually talking about racial in-equality and how it needs to end. He ended his apology by saying that he had realized his foolishness, and learned from his mistakes.
After this, several people could be seen supporting that actor and accepting his apologies. Well, we can only hope that the actor does actually learn from his mistakes and no such controversy takes place in the future, not only associating him but in our society as whole.