Benedict Cumberbatch Apologizes After Major Insult to Black People

Benedict CumberbatchIt's hard to believe that Benedict Cumberbatch could say something absolutely less than perfect, but alas, the British heartthrob stepped in the other day in an interview about racial inequality in Hollywood. The Sherlock actor referred to black actors as "colored," and then issued a very sincere and self-deprecating apology.


Cumberbatch was doing an interview on PBS' Travis Smiley last week, when the topic of non-white actors came up. There's been some controversy around the Oscar nominations this year, as all of the major nominees are Caucasian. Of particular note is the snub against Selma David Oyelowo.

Our favorite brooding thespian reportedly said that "as far as colored actors go," they have more opportunity in American than in Britain.

Hi, 1968 called, and they want their racial slur back. The term "colored" to refer to people with darker skin tones is totally derogatory and derivative from an era when Jim Crow laws ruled the land. I'm hoping that Cumberbatch was just thinking in general about the many, many skin tones out there (as opposed to just "black"), and meant to say non-white. It's hard to say, but the statement just seemed really odd.

But you have to love the British -- they are so polite and willing to make amends if they find out that they have slighted someone. When the U.K.-based organization Show Racism the Red Card pointed out his use of an "outdated" term like "colored," he immediately issued an apology and called himself an idiot.

"I'm devastated to have caused offense by using this outmoded terminology," he said. "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. I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people and to learn from my mistakes in such a public manner  please be assured I have. I apologize 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."

You'd think he'd know better than to use derogatory terms ... Cumberbatch is nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for The Imitation Game, in which he played gay mathematician Alan Turing. Despite cracking the German Enigma code during WWII, Turing was then prosecuted for being gay by the British government.

Yup, things have definitely changed in the last 60-70 years. Now no one cares if you're gay, and it's incredibly offensive to call non-white people "colored." We'll forgive Cumberbatch this faux pas, especially after his heartfelt apology, but it would do everyone good to just abolish that term from their vocabularies.

Do you think the term "colored" to refer to non-Caucasian people is offensive?


Image via ACE/

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