Meryl Streep Gets Backlash After Wearing ‘I’d Rather Be A Rebel Than A Slave’ T-Shirt
Meryl Streep has become the target of criticism following photos that surfaced the actress wearing a plain white T-shirt stating “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.” Streep donned the shirt as a means of promoting her upcoming film Suffragette, a drama centered around the movement to declare women’s right to vote in England during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The quote was originally spoken by British women’s rights icon Emmeline Pankhurst in a speech in 1913, and was supposed to be a rallying exclamation intended to fuel the flame of an uprising while pointing out that women faced the threat of potentially becoming the equivalent of slaves if they did not fight for their inalienable rights. The three other major stars of the film, Oscar-nominee Carey Mulligan and fellow English actresses Romola Garai and Anne-Marie Duff, have also worn the shirt, although Streep, the most well-known star in the film, is receiving the bulk of the backlash.
African-American activist Deray McKesson tweeted on Monday October 5: “Meryl Streep has to know better. And if not, her publicist should have.” (See tweet below) The same day, a writer named Jamilah Lemieux tweeted: “White women have said a lot of terrible things over the course of history, doesn’t mean you wear it on a shirt.”
This phrase unsurprisingly struck a nerve for many people in the African-American community. However, the uproar over this particular quote has been called unfounded by many others who say those who have been upset by it are not completely familiar with its context. Pankhurst’s full quote is: “I 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.”
Suffragette is directed by Sarah Gavron and will be released in theaters on October 23.https://
Meryl Streep has to know better. And if not, her publicist should have.
— deray mckesson (@deray) October 5, 2015