Benedict Cumberbatch race row: What's the actual difference between 'coloured' and 'person of colour'?

I haven’t had time to check my privilege on this one yet, but I can't see why his comments are so controversial

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The Independent Online

How long, in the aftermath of Benedict Cumberbatch’s faux pas, before a newspaper with pretensions to exquisite sensibilities gives us “c******d”?

The full word is coloured, and poor Cumberbatch’s use of it provides the race row of the week. He was talking of how hard “coloured actors” find getting work in Britain, but the law of unintended consequences determined that his supportiveness to “my friends” was taken for a shameful slur.

The poor chap was utterly mortified, and gave a grovelling apology - “I feel the complete fool I am … thoughtless use of an inappropriate word” - to those who were volubly scandalised.

Everyone is entitled to seek offence where they may. How would Twitter prosper were it otherwise? But at the risk of being Cumberbatched, I cannot pretend to comprehend the crucial distinction between “coloured people”, which is deeply offensive, and “people of colour”, which is currently the preferred term. It all seems a bit People’s Front of Judea/ Judean People’s Front to me.


I haven’t had time to check my privilege on this one yet, but if it was so offensive would America’s most venerable civil rights group, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, retain its name?

The actor had no reason to be mortified for using a twee anachronism, and the last thing we need is more asterisks. It was bad enough, a couple of weeks ago, when the Mirror pioneered “N***o”. For several minutes I mistook that for a reference to Derek Nimmo, who was irritating on Just A Minute, perhaps, but hardly deserves the censorship. Clement Freud, on the other hand...