by Brian Chai
“Dr. Strange” actor and veritable Hollywood star Benedict Cumberbatch may be in some hot water with the small island nation of Barbados.
Cumberbatch, whose credits include the BBC’s “Sherlock” as well as the aforementioned “Dr. Strange” films, and his family are currently under investigation by the Caribbean nation of Barbados, according to multiple outlets.
Cumberbatch reportedly has a seventh great-grandfather who bought a plantation in 1728, thus triggering the Barbados government to look into the erstwhile actor.
“This is at its earliest stages. We are just beginning. A lot of history is only really now coming to light,” David Comissiong told The Telegraph. Comissiong is Barbados’s deputy chairman of the national commission on reparations.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s family could be forced to pay reparations to Barbados for running a slave plantation on the island in the 18th and 19th century.— Lorraine King (@lorrainemking) December 31, 2022
When the plantation was forced to close his family were given £6,000 in compensation – in today’s money that’s £3.6million. pic.twitter.com/ZE0sy5DWyZ
“Any descendants of white plantation owners who have benefited from the slave trade should be asked to pay reparations, including the Cumberbatch family,” David Denny, general secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration, told The Telegraph.
Cumberbatch, for his part, is already aware of some of the issues intertwined with his family history.
In fact, the UK Daily Mail actually ran a story in 2014, shortly after Cumberbatch’s role in “12 Years A Slave.” The movie, which was a damning look at the slave trade, featured Cumberbatch as a slave and plantation owner.
Cumberbatch revealed to the Daily Mail that his role in “12 Years A Slave,” as well as another movie about slavery, “Amazing Grace,” were “a sort of apology” for his family’s dark past.
The English actor also revealed that his mother, also an actress, urged him not to use his real surname, as it would make him a target of reparation claims.
Cumberbatch’s ongoing issue is eerily reminiscent of the raging reparation debates happening in America.
Ironically, the very state where Hollywood resides has also been discussing how to pay out reparations to those whose families were afflicted by slavery.
California is currently grappling with how best to pay out some rather large, six-figure sums to various qualified recipients, but there are some key differences with The Golden State and Barbados.
First, Barbados has made it clear that money collected from reparations would be poured back into the community.
“The money should be used to turn the local clinic into a hospital, support local schools, and improve infrastructure and housing,” Denny told The Telegraph.
California, comparatively, is handing the money to recipients directly, for them to use the funds as responsibly (or irresponsibly) as they would want to.
Second, Barbados is, at the very least, trying to track down families with direct involvement in the slave trade and making them pay for it.
California, meanwhile, appears content to merely have all of its collective citizenry, whether their families had anything to do with the slave trade or not foot the bill.