SRtRC praise article and efforts to educate
“Benedict Cumberbatch has highlighted a very important issue within the entertainment industry and within society.
The lack of representation of people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds within certain industries in the UK is an issue which needs addressing, and we are pleased that Benedict has spoken out in support of more appropriate representation and of the views of actors and campaigners like Lenny Henry.
In doing so, he has also inadvertently highlighted the issue of appropriate terminology and the evolution of language. Show Racism the Red Card feel that the term ‘coloured’ is now outdated and has the potential to cause offence due to the connotations associated with the term and its historical usage.
Appropriate terminology differs from country to country; for example, we know that in some countries the term ‘coloured’ is still widely used, and that in the US the term ‘people of colour’ is quite common.
During our work with young people in schools throughout England, we discuss appropriate language to use when describing people of different skin colours and backgrounds and explain why the term ‘coloured’ is no longer the best way to describe someone.”
Show Racism the Red Card
Earlier this week, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch said the word ‘coloured’ in an interview on US TV. He was talking about the under-representation of Black and minority ethnic actors.
Show Racism the Red Card was asked to comment on the term by The Independent and the campaign released a statement. (See sidebar for Show Racism the Red Card's statement).
The next day Benedict released an apology for using the term saying “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.
"I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive.
"The most shaming aspect of this for me is that I was talking about racial inequality in the performing arts in the UK and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term.
"I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people.
"I apologise again to anyone who I offended for this thoughtless use of inappropriate language about an issue which affects friends of mine and which I care about deeply."
BBC Newsbeat journalist Amelia Butterly has written a very good piece about why the term ‘coloured’ has the potential to offend.
Ged Grebby, SRtRC Chief Executive said “It is refreshing to read a piece in the media that sets out to educate on this term. Discussing terminology is one of the most difficult aspects of our work with young people and adults. I would encourage young people in particular and adults to read it.
“The office has been inundated with messages from people upset that Benedict Cumberbatch has been criticised for the use of the term ‘coloured’. Actually, I think he has shown an excellent example to us all. It is easy to use an outdated word and his apology was sincere.
“The issue he was speaking in support of - more representation of black and minority ethnic actors in Britain and America - is a more important issue than using the wrong term; but in doing so we have an opportunity to educate further about terminology.”