When Benedict Cumberbatch called black actors"colored" on the Tavis Smiley PBS talk show, he was just trying to make a point about black actors not getting enough opportunities in the U.K., but unfortunately, that was overshadowed by his outdated and offensive terminology. When the actor spoke about his British colleagues Chiwetel Ejiofor and David Oyelowo, he was passionate about racial inequality, yet started off his rant with the strikingly incorrect language.
"I think as far as colored actors go it gets really different in the U.K., and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here [in the U.S.] than in the U.K., and that's something that needs to change. Something's gone wrong. We're not representative enough in our culture of different races, and that really does need to step up apace."
Even though Cumberbatch was shining a light on a very important issue, "colored" is a term that hasn't been used in many decades. Especially given the context of what he was saying, he should have known better. The fact that this language is still around at all in 2015 is outrageous, and it is a big part of the overall problem with racism and racial inequality across all fields, including acting. Cumberbatch apologized on Monday for being a "complete fool" and reminded everyone how wrong it is to use this term. Read an excerpt from his statement to People below:
"I'm devastated to have caused offense 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 U.K. and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term."