I was going to ignore it.
So, Benedict Cumberbatch used the word “coloured” in a well-meaning comment about how it’s easier to find work in Hollywood as a Black actor, rather than the UK. I think Joseph Harker put it best in the Guardian – he didn’t mean to offend, but it shows that he moves in rarefied circles:
“To criticise Cumberbatch is missing the point: his comments betray the whiteness of the whole industry, and its representatives should be the ones apologising today.”
Now. I didn’t even break stride over this a few days ago, but I have been a bit taken aback and the explosion of posts – overwhelmingly by White authors – in the media since. We’ve had the “What’s the big deal?” articles, the well-meaning liberal whitesplaining articles “It’s not a nice word, guys. This is why the Blacks are irritated” and the obligatory “PC gone mad” brigade.
That’s all good and well, but it reinforced the image of the absurd lack of diversity in the commentariat that is so beautifully illustrated in the Evening Standard’s election line-up (previous post). That’s the real problem, not Cumberbatch’s clumsiness or lack of racial sensitivity.
This was the Evening Standard’s response when challenged on that by Media Diversified today. (And just like the point about the structural problems with diversity in the film industry, Harker gets it right again. Where are the “established” Black experts?)