On Saturday Elba took to Twitter to clarify his remarks. In his tweet, Elba emphasized that he does indeed consider himself a Black man, but that he doesn’t want to be “defined by race” when it comes to his career.
There isn’t a soul on this earth that can question whether I consider myself a BLACK MAN or not. Being an ‘actor’ is a profession, like being an ‘architect’ ,they are not defined by race. However, If YOU define your work by your race, that is your Perogative. Ah lie?— Idris Elba (@idriselba) February 11, 2023
“There isn’t a soul on this earth that can question whether I consider myself a BLACK MAN or not,” Elba wrote. “Being an ‘actor’ is a profession, like being an ‘architect’ ,they are not defined by race. However, If YOU define your work by your race, that is your Perogative. Ah lie?”
For those unfamiliar, Elba revealed to Esquire UK that he stopped describing himself as a Black actor because he did not want to be put in a box.
“I didn’t become an actor because I didn’t see Black people doing it and I wanted to change that,” he said. “I did it because I thought that’s a great profession and I could do a good job at it. As you get up the ladder, you get asked what it’s like to be the first Black to do this or that. Well, it’s the same as it would be if I were white. It’s the first time for me. I don’t want to be the first Black. I’m the first Idris.”
He continued, “Of course, I’m a member of the Black community. You say a prominent one. But when I go to America, I’m a prominent member of the British community. ‘Oh, UK’s in the house!’ If we spent half the time not talking about the differences but the similarities between us, the entire planet would have a shift in the way we deal with each other. As humans, we are obsessed with race. And that obsession can really hinder people’s aspirations, hinder people’s growth. Racism should be a topic for discussion, sure. Racism is very real. But from my perspective, it’s only as powerful as you allow it to be.”
“I stopped describing myself as a Black actor when I realized it put me in a box. We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to. Our skin is no more than that: it’s just skin. Rant over,” Elba concluded.