The Internet was outraged after a picture of Meryl Streep circulated of her wearing a shirt that said, “I rather be a rebel than a slave.” Some believe that critics are being too harsh on Meryl Streep. She’s always been a feminist and this shirt just further proves the fact that she fights for gender equality. Others point out that this shirt is a representation of a lot of the problems with mainstream feminism. No one wants to be enslaved, but historically speaking Black people didn’t have a choice.
There’s a form of privilege that’s involved with being able to say that you would rather be a rebel than a slave. Some have a choice to fight against the oppressing systems. However, for those who are the ancestors of slaves, the shirt makes us want to give a Rihanna worthy side-eye. Our ancestors didn’t want to be enslaved. We were dragged from a different continent placed on a new continent that was not melanin friendly, forced to work for centuries while enduring the rape and massacre of our people, and then once freed were forced to learn how to function in the Plessy v. Ferguson world where institutionalized racism is the norm.
I too would love to be a rebel, but first I have overcome years of being enslaved. It’s moments like this that make you want to pull a Marcus Garvey and go back to Africa, but plane tickets these days are too expensive. Lately, it’s been a tell all tale of who’s accepted and not accepted in mainstream feminism. During these moments where Hollywood’s favorite feminist are caught in a moments of tone-deaf tomfoolery, you realize that it’s not just enough to say that you fight and always fight for the equality of women. If you’re going to say that you fight for the right of all women, become culturally aware. Remember that for generations of individuals, slavery was not a choice.