Meryl Streep is one of the most celebrated and respected actresses in the business. The 66-year old is currently promoting her upcoming film, Suffrages which highlights a group of British women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who advocated for women’s right to vote.
In the movie, Streep plays Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of Britain’s women’s movement.
In promotion for the film, Streep and several of her co-stars are wearing shirts with an excerpt of a quote from Pankhurst. Sounds innocent in theory but the verbiage that was selected for the shirt was simply tasteless.
“I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.”
“Black Twitter” was quick to reiterate the clear lack of diversity in the TV and film industry when it comes to making decisions about what other races may find offensive.
The full quote from Pankhurst is as follows:
“Know that women, once convinced that they are doing what is right, that their rebellion is just, will go on, no matter what the difficulties, no matter what the dangers, so long as there is a woman alive to hold up the flag of rebellion. I would rather be a rebel than a slave.”
The sentence, within the context of the quote, is upstanding but we live in a country where people find the hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter offensive and debate over whether it should be #AllLivesMatter.
That said, there are hundreds of Pankhurst quotes to choose from. You would have to live in post-racial bubble (aka “white privilege”) not to think the shirt with that particular quote wouldn’t raise a few eyebrows and stir controversy.
Here’s a Pankhurst quote that may have been more applicable, “Justice and judgment lie often a world apart.”
We look forward to her Matt Damon style apology in 3, 2, 1.