Morgan Freeman has some strong opinions on being Black in the United States. In an interview with The Sunday Times, the Academy Award-winning actor clarified a few racial issues during his recent press tour for the Zach Braff movie, A Good Person.
“Two things I can say publicly that I do not like,” Freeman said. “Black History Month is an insult. You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” He’s not alone in his stance as moves continue to be made to eradicate what little Black history is taught in schools.
“Also, ‘African American’ is an insult,” he added. “I don’t subscribe to that title. Black people have had different titles all the way back to the n-word and I do not know how these things get such a grip, but everyone uses ‘African American.’ What does it really mean? Most Black people in this part of the world are mongrels. And you say Africa as if it’s a country when it’s a continent, like Europe.”
Freeman’s thoughts seemed to echo the sentiments of another Oscar winner, Denzel Washington, who famously said, “I’m very proud to be Black, but Black is not all I am.” When The Sunday Times reporter brought up the quote to Freeman, he agreed with Washington’s feelings: “You can’t define me that way,” he said.
The conversation around whether or not to be defined by your race in good ways or bad is one that comes down to the autonomy of choice. Black as a descriptor in front of a title, be it “Black actor,” “Black athlete,” or “Black-owned business,” can either feel reductive or merely reflective of what is. It all depends on the subject. – Steve Sijenyi