Episode
August 5, 2019

#NotMyHarriet: Who gets to represent black American history?

Controversial choice of British actress to play black American icon Harriet Tubman stirs debate.
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Actress Cynthia Erivo is facing a backlash for her upcoming role as American abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Many are upset that Erivo, who is Nigerian-British, was given the part instead of an African American actress and they’ve been voicing their opinions online using #NotMyHarriet, #HarrietDeservesBetter, and #ADOS.

 

Criticism over Erivo’s part began in 2017 when her casting was announced. She responded, and in an interview with Bustle, said she understood the argument: "I get that there is upset for me playing this role, and I understand where it comes from. It comes from so many African-American women feeling that they don’t get seen. There just isn’t enough when it comes to film and TV and entertainment. There isn’t enough — nowhere near enough — for us, as women of color, to see ourselves. And so I understand why this particular role, which is held to high esteem in this community, feels like it’s losing one of their own."

 

The controversy, though, was reawakened in July by the release of the November-slated film’s trailer.

 

On this episode of The Stream we discuss how experience and privilege relate to black identity.

 

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with: 
Antonio Moore, @tonetalks
Co-Founder, American Descendants of Slavery
tonetalks.org
 

Hakeem Kae-Kazim, @hakeemkaekazim
Actor
imdb.com
 

Heather Harris
Professor, Stevenson University
stevenson.edu                     

 

Read/watch more:

Harriet Tubman biopic faces backlash over non-African American star - Rolling Stone 

Cynthia Erivo Talks About Portraying Harriet Tubman - TODAY 

 

What do you think? Record a video comment or leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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