The realisation that #HarrietTubman died only just over a century ago, and her words are now being sung by an African American woman — the magnificent Claron McFadden — from a town (Rochester) that Harriet passed through on her missions, gives me goosebumps.
I don’t want to give away too much of @JeanLacornerie’s staging, but there are many moments that give me chills. One moment is where Harriet is ‘crowned’ in an intimate ritual that celebrates the hair that saved her from death when an overseer hit her head with a metal weight.
Here is why Cynthia Erivo, in particular, should not play Harriet Tubman.
TL; DR: There’s a troubling pattern of Cynthia repeatedly, deliberately, selectively *choosing* to not give respect to African-American heritage – the heritage of Harriet Tubman. #HarrietDeservesBetter
Note: There’s an argument to be made against Africans/non-DOS Brits playing important African-American figures – & vice versa. Performance & perspective, where & how we take up space, larger economic & cultural issues at play.
Others have unpacked that; this thread won’t.
This thread is about why Cynthia Erivo should not play Harriet Tubman, “the Moses of her people” & a sacred African-American ancestor. It goes beyond Cynthia’s birthplace, accent, heritage & even her association with an ethnic bigot.
TL;DR: From word choice, to sourcing, to biased, inaccurate framing, @paularogo's article, "Cynthia Erivo Pushes Back On Criticism Of Her New Role As Harriet Tubman" amounts to an Erivo fluff piece that tries to further neutralize valid criticism of a very real, very large issue.
(Note: When referring to African-Americans, I'm referring to DOS (descendant of slaves, h/t @BreakingBrown)/DACS (descendants of American chattel slavery)/BADASS (Black American descendants of American slavery & sharecropping, h/t @kimmaytube)