An Anonymous Conversation about Shonda Rhimes, Race & “Scandal”

An Anonymous Conversation about Shonda Rhimes, Race & “Scandal”

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Last Sunday, to hype up tonight’s season finale of Scandal the New York Times did a “day in the life” piece about show runner Shonda Rhimes entitled “Network TV is Broken so How does Shonda Rhimes Keep Making Hits?” The piece is pretty illuminating, (especially if you read between the lines) but as the Racialicious blog pointed out, the most interesting part of the story was Rhimes comments on race in regards to her hit show:

When people who aren’t of color create a show and they have one character of color on their show, that character spends all their time talking about the world as ‘I’m a black man blah, blah, blah,’ ” she says. “That’s not how the world works. I’m a black woman every day, and I’m not confused about that. I’m not worried about that. I don’t need to have a discussion with you about how I feel as a black woman, because I don’t feel disempowered as a black woman.”

And later in reference to the famous “Sally Hemmings” moment on Scandal between Olivia and Fitz.

I don’t think that we have to have a discussion about race when you’re watching a black woman who is having an affair with the white president of the United States,” she explains. “The discussion is right in front of your face.”

Initially I was taken aback by indifference bordering on resistance in Rhimes’ comments. So the idea of fully fleshing out characters of color has to come from a place of “disempowerment”? Olivia Pope is a “black woman”, and the show’s lead, why wouldn’t all aspects of her life be worth exploring? I decided to forward the story on to my unofficial “Black Women’s War Council” three good friends of mine who help me out from time to time with my columns (They also happen to be much bigger Scandal fans than I am.) The following are highlights from our afternoon email exchanges about the Rhimes article and Scandal in general. (Names Changed to protect the guilty.)

My main problem with Scandal and many of Shonda’s other shows is that the black characters are always underdeveloped. Nobody is saying you necessarily have to discuss race explicitly. But if we knew the back story of the characters -in the case of Scandal the MAIN character – we would have a better understanding of her black experience (which varies for ALL black people)….. We don’t even know if Olivia Pope got a mama, daddy, sister, brother. Yet we know ALL about Fitz and why he is manipulative and hella insecure (Daddy issues). There is no rhyme or reason for why Olivia does what she does other than she is dickmatized by a “Biff” who just happens to be president.

(Tanya : Single, 34, working as a Capitol Hill Staffer for the last 10 years)

All and I mean, ALL of the hetero relationships on her show were like this, where the men were supposed be great or brilliant or geniuses or tragic heroes so we were supposed to forgive that they were also neglectful, douchey, cheaters, manipulative, shady, violent or controlling. It always feels like Shonda is like the chick who wrote Twilight — someone who has never been in a relationship who is just imagining what it’s like.

(Carla: Divorced, 35, political journalist and writer)

For me, Shonda writes ways that are unintelligible. Entertaining but unintelligible.  She seems to have no sense of the rhythms of relationships even the dysfunctional ones. Plus she doesn’t even really address one of the central issues: Why it’s so much more awful for a white Republican president to have a BLACK mistress. 

(Dana: Single, 35,  African – American studies professor)

We all talked over email for the better part of the work afternoon, and it struck me how, even for many black fans of Scandal there are some problems when it comes to reconciling some of the race and gender issues with the show even though they want to support Kerry Washington and Rhimes’ efforts. Is Rhimes not aware of these conversations that happen between black men and women on message boards and twitter? Does it simply not matter to her? Scandal counts some of the brightest African American thought leaders as fans, Melissa Harris-Perry, Marc Lamont Hill and Roland Martin (not to mention Michelle Obama) just to name a few, so it’s hard to believe that my friends are the only ones who wrestle with the racial undercurrents of a manipulative and powerful married white man carrying on an affair with a supposedly strong black woman. So are Shonda Rhimes milquetoast views on race and Scandal because she doesn’t know the show’s problems, or doesn’t care; or it is something else? I suspect it’s “something else”.

Let’s be real, how honest can Shonda Rhimes be about race, in an interview with the New York Times let alone with Olivia Pope on Scandal? She knows the score, she knows what network executives will and will not allow on air, let alone what white viewers will accept and pointing those realities out won’t change things. Consider her experiences with her first hit Grey’s Anatomy. According to Hollywood legend, Isaiah Washington was initially supposed to play the Derek “McDreamy” Shepard character (Which is one of the reasons why she cast Ellen Pompeo, a white woman with a black fiancé / husband in real life to play love interest Meredith Grey). But the network execs were not trying to have a prime time show about a handsome black doctor sexing up his blonde white resident, (all while his mother disapproved of the relationship). So this was kiboshed and Patrick Dempsey was moved into the role. Rhimes could never tell that true story in an interview. That is real race talk, dangerous race talk. The kind that makes reporters uncomfortable; the kind that most black people in Hollywood, no matter how powerful, could never tell in public. So do I find it disappointing that Shonda Rhimes writes a show about a black woman that assiduously avoids any discussion of her blackness? Definitely. But it doesn’t surprise me. My friend Dana the professor put it best:

Can’t knock her hustle – she’s clearly tapped into a kind of cultural zeitgeist and for that, like Tyler Perry, you have to respect it. But her interracial fantasies of grandeur are troubling.

So keep tapping into that zeitgeist Shonda, and keep making hits. Even if that means you’ll never tell the whole story.

 

DR. JASON JOHNSON, Politic365 Chief Political Correspondent, is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College in Ohio and author of the book Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell. You can read more at www.drjasonjohnson.com or follow him on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson.

59 COMMENTS

  1. To the author of this piece: can it be possible to just have entertainment written by a Black person and featuring a Black person that doesn’t have to be a freakin’ history lesson?

    • Why is it a history lesson to actually fully develop the main character on the show? To explain WHO she is and WHY she is the way she is? Why is it that discussing the full measure of the MAIN character of a show is somehow burdensome or difficult? If it were an ensemble show, or she was a minor character fine, but to have a main character where you ignore and avoid her race and ethnicity – what purpose does that serve plot-wise or character-wise?

      • If you had only waited ’til after the finale to write the aritcle… a lot of your concerns were addressed… making most of this moot.
        Having said that, I love that the story unfolds – not just Olivia’s, but the other characters, as well – Huck’s, for example – WOW! We don’t need everything dumped in our lamps in the first few episodes. I think it’s fun discovering new aspects about the characters.
        Personally, I hope her affair with the President is over. I don’t like them as a couple. It’s not a race thing – I actually prefer her w/Jake. Fitz is kind of wimpy & whiny… it’s a turn-off to me. Jake is much stronger, a little dangerous. I hope he survives his current predicament – maybe even becomes a Gladiator!
        The show you want to watch would be boring for the rest of us. This one is fun, engaging & way over the top! It’s not a documentary… it’s a fictional TV show. Not as brilliant as West Wing or The Newsroom, but still entertaining.
        If I were to put on my ‘Script Doctor’ hat, I would add some humor to the show… everyone takes themselves too damn seriously. I think the soap opera aspect is way less interesting than the ‘scandals.’ My favorite characters are Huck & Charlie – that should tell you something… lol I like Jake, as well.
        That’s my two cents’…

        • I’m in agreement with you. Jake at least appears to
          have a sense of humor and treats olivia with repect. I like Jake for Olivia. Hope to see more of him in season 3.

      • I think that will be coming in Season 3 don’t you? We just found out that Rowan is Olivia’s dad and no one knows who he is really. Give the show a chance. If we find out all the information about everyone in the first couple of seasons what will be left of the show? Plus how is Olivia’s race and ethnicity being ignored? Can’t you look at her and Congressman Davis and Harrison and see that they are black people? I think it’s great seeing a character on TV I personally can relate to. I am so tired of all the ghetto crap. I wasn’t raised in the ghetto. I don’t listen to rap. I’m not impoverished and struggling. What exactly do you want Olivia to show you? and what do you want Shonda to prove to you?

    • I totally agree. I love the show for the mysteries and the power struggles. Remember that while Olivia Pope is played by a black woman, the story is modeled on the life of a white woman.

      • Sorry but the real Olivia Pope is a black woman. Her name is Judy Smith. What I don’t understand is one this is only the end of the 2nd season while season 1 only had like 10 or less episodes. The drama is still being fully fleshed out. Secondly this is a multi-ethnic cast/crew so it isn’t all blackness. I could understand if we were in the 4th or 5th season then I could understand. I’m glad to see other “outlooks” on blackness that isn’t all wrapped up in gang banging, prostitution etc. But remember this isn’t real life it’s television.

        • Ok but remember that this isn’t real life it’s television and in real life not every black person is involved in gang banging and prostitution. I like this show because it shows black people who aren’t in the ghetto. I’m so tired of the ghetto crap. I was not raised in the ghetto but on a farm and my life is more similar to Olivia’s that it is to any person from the ghetto. It’s refreshing to see a character who isn’t “down” because I’m not down. I’m a successful black woman and know many successful black folks and Olivia represents us.

      • “Remember that while Olivia Pope is played by a black woman, the story is modeled on the life of a white woman.”

        WRONG! Judy Smith, on whom the character Olivia Pope is modeled, is a black woman.

  2. Interesting article. I think Shonda is stuck between a rock and a hard place. She makes a nod to white supremacy structure at one point – She goes to meet a client for the first time with her red haired assistant, the client goes to shake the assistant’s hand first and says nice to meet you Olivia. That small nod to racist assumptions gave me faith that Shonda knows what she’s doing and I expect more subtle markers as the programme progresses. It would not have got to a second season without it having that subtelty where it comes to race, American mainstream audiences aren’t mature enough…yet.

    • You make an excellent point Kate. It is VERY hard for Shonda to be real about these issues, even if she wanted to be. The way that Grey’s was influenced by ABC executives shows that no matter how powerful you are as a black person you will still likely be constrained in the stories you tell by racism. It’s a shame that Olivia doesn’t have a more developed personality, it’s a shame that the conversations she has with Fitz don’t sound anything like the conversations that REAL black women in interracial relationships with white men, or MARRIED men actually sound like. They’re in Washington D.C. they’re political animals But if Olivia was ever having pillow talk with Fitz and said “Damn baby, what’s up with all the VOTER ID laws to screw black folks at the polls, is that how you stole the election?” The gatekeepers at ABC and Disney would have a conniption.

      • It is obvious you are not a gladiator……………..someone who follow the show religiously. If you were you would know this show is not about pillow talk. Smart black women are capable of doing MORE than pillow talk. Those of us who truly love the show do not want this show turned into a political agenda show. And yes I am black.

        • Julia you hit it square on the head! As a former West Wing fan and a Scandal gladiator – this is one of the best twists, turns, soundtracks, underlying message, and thought provoking shows to come along in a while. Proof that Shonda Rhimes is a MASTER story teller – look at the episode names; listen to the lines in the characters then read the Facebook and Twitter posts – if even pastors are watching and getting the points being made, then all I can say is whiskey tango foxtrot! (true gladiators know what this is) This show is smartly written and when you think you know you find out quickly you don’t. The peeling back of the layers for each character is constant which makes it all the more interesting. There are deep themes embedded and a lot of real talk. Again, its entertainment, its a look in the mirror for some, and escape for others. Bottom line – its a hit and its going to be one of those landmark shows we all look back at in 10 years and go – wow.

      • ” it’s a shame that the conversations she has with Fitz don’t sound anything like the conversations that REAL black women in interracial relationships with white men, or MARRIED men actually sound like…”

        And you know this how? Stop with your assumptions and generalizing. You really don’t know all black women that are in interracial relationships to make a broad-sweeping statement- Why are there people like you? Get a clue!

      • Sorry Jason but I have been in a relationship similar to Olivia’s. No he was not a president but he was a company president. No, he wasn’t married but he was divorced. We did the same “Hi” thing. We had the same obsession with each other. The conversations and even the fights that Fitz and Olivia have had in the show were mirrors of the conversations and fights that I had in my relationship. We had the Rose garden fight but we didn’t mention Sally and Thomas Jefferson. We fought about not being able to see each other and the demands of work and ect. We had the sleepless nights and the pillow talk but we didn’t talk about voter ID laws. We were too busy talking about how we were going to work around his ex wife and his child and my sick father and his cancer and our long distance relationship. We didn’t spend all of our time talking about our different races because to us we weren’t two different races. We were just a man and a woman and we were in love.

  3. LOL!!!!! ****There is no rhyme or reason for why Olivia does what she does other than she is dickmatized by a “Biff” who just happens to be president.*****

      • This is just another reason why it is so difficult for us play with the big boys. Scandal is the #1 show of the season……………an obvious winner and he wants to turn it in to a political talk show. Can’t we just enjoy the show and Shondra’s success.

    • Yes, it is, and so is Rap music. And is it not true that many people can enjoy the beats in a rap song, and download and album and still express concerns about some of the lyrics and the content of the songs? The “It’s JUST entertainment” excuse is disingenuous. It’s NOT just entertainment, Scandal influences fashion, pop culture, and is one of Michelle Obama’s favorite shows. Any media outlet that has this much influence needs to be looked at both good and bad. Just like we can love Tyler Perry movies, we can also point out that “Temptation” send the wrong message about AIDS, just like we can enjoy Rick Ross we can point out that references to a date-rape drug are problematic, just like you can vote for Obama you can criticize him for allowing Plus-One loans to HBCU students expire. We need to get past this knee-jerk reaction that anytime something black and rare comes along that it must be protected at all costs, rather than enjoyed and critiqued just like everything. And lastly, if it weren’t for the fact that the gatekeepers at the networks were so dead set on limiting what African Americans get on television (note the story about Grey’s Anatomy) we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  4. Why is it every time a black person is a writer/producer/director she or he has is expected to speak for the WHOLE black community and teach educate the white masses about black America? Maybe that is not their calling. Sometimes entertainment is meant to be just that. There are plenty of advocates who can make shows or movies about the racism. Every black writer doesn’t have to be a spokesperson for us.

    • Again, this is a sad example of how scared and desperate the black community is. There is a mindset, spoken and unspoken among black people “This is the ONLY one we HAVE, we have to SUPPORT IT or WE’LL NEVER GET ANOTHER ONE!” Scandal is the first network show to have a black female lead in almost 40 years. People enjoy the show, it is entertaining and exciting and appointment television. However, it is the VERY fact that there are so few programs that have ever been made with black stars that make fans so blind and desperate to support the show no matter what. You can and SHOULD enjoy a show and you can criticize it as well, it’s the only way things improve. The “It’s entertainment” don’t bother me excuse is just that, its’ fear, fear that one of our few precious shows will be taken “away” from us if we don’t show blind loyalty to anything that is put on screen. No one, not in my article or anywhere else is claiming Rhimes must show the “black experience” but if you actually READ what I wrote you will see that she assiduously AVOIDS ANY reflections on Olivia’s life as a black woman, in large part because it may offend white audiences. This fear in the black community that if we tell our “whole” story that it is somehow problematic, or preachy, or always about ‘racism’ is a perfect example of internalized racism.

      • I’m walking with you on what your saying Dr. Johnson, but this is only the second season. The first season only had like 10 or less episodes. It’s still evolving. But why aren’t you pushing or educating people on barnstorming these networks (like women and the backlash against Susan G. Komen) and forcing these all white shows to add people of color that aren’t just there to fill the screen. We always seem to criticize our own badly when all they are trying to do is to get in there and make a name. Once you’ve become established and know how to play the game can you handle your own agenda (whatever it may be) and promote the type of things that you say.
        Television networks are owned by white rich people. Not black people. Just saying…I feel you but we also need to stop criticizing our own to death before they even have a chance to do something with their fame and fortune.

        • “Television networks are owned by white rich people. Not black people. Just saying…”

          THERE’S the real problem. We need more “minority-owned” media outlets. That’s the only way these things will change. Or maybe that’s not fair … it would be a much quicker way to get these things changed.

          And it occurs to me that if it had been Ellen Pompeo who approached the network with the same idea for this show with the handsome black doctor and his white intern, they wouldn’t have let her do it either! So it’s not all about Shonda Rhimes. It’s all about the networks and their perceived notions of what their audience will accept. And they’re always WAY behind the times in those notions.

      • I don’t agree. I started watching the show because I saw a black woman like me. What I always see depicted on TV is black people in the ghetto black experience. That’s a turn off to me since I’m not from the ghetto. I think Olivia is part of the black experience that you don’t want shown. She’s middle class. That’s a little obvious. She isn’t gangbanging or a prostitute. She has a vocabulary. She doesn’t have pink hair. She’s the boss and has her own business and it’s not a beauty salon. That’s why people are intrigued by her and the show because it’s not same old, same old. I get Olivia because she is like me. So I don’t see the need to know more about her until the show develops. I don’t watch because I pulling for the show but because I relate to it. Get it?

  5. Black people are so critical towards one another its pathetic! Who gives a damn! I love Scandal along with millions of other people. Watch the got damn show for entertainment!!! Because that’s all it is! I respect that your job is to find useless topics to write about. Get some real news. This is fake.

    • What is equally sad is that some black people are so desperate to see themselves on television that any show with a black writer or lead is somehow immune to criticism. It is possible to enjoy a show and criticize it, just like you can vote for Obama and criticize him, or root for a sports team but criticize game management. Your defensiveness towards Scandal, considering that this article is not a condemnation of the show is indicative of this “surround the wagons” mentality in the black community that prevents honest discussion and critique from occurring.

      • Lighten up already! “a sad example of how scared and desperate the black community is.” Really! It’s a TV show for goodness sakes. Why are we getting all deep and emotional about some fantasy fictional character because we don’t know her background and what makes her act the way she does? That’s just crazy. Sandal Thursday is enjoyable and fun and it would be that way regardless who the writer was. Shonda Rhymes happens to be black…. well ok, so what. That’s not why I watch the show. Nor do I watch it because I am fearful that if I don’t I my people won’t ever get another chance. I watch it because it’s good and it makes me laugh, gasp and sometimes clutch the pearls. (pure entertainment!) and at the end of the show, I turn off the television. It doesn’t shape my view of the world at all.

  6. I’ve watched Grey’s anatomy and Private Practice for years, and cheered Shonda’s acumen. The race issue means little in the bigger context of the political arena of the beltway. A much bigger comment is the fact that none of scandal’s characters are truly wholesome. There are no good guys in this context. What it says about who gravitates toward political life in the US is truly frightening.

  7. I believe one of the writer’s major points is that, for unknown and unclear reasons, the major character of this series is underdeveloped. I watch the show every week, and i know it’s only season 2, but still — we know nearly everything about Fitz, his pathology, his motivation, and where he comes from. Same with Huck, Quinn, Abby, Mellie, and Cyrus. The two characters we know the least about? Harrison and Olivia.

    This is problemmatic for me … since it makes the characters one dimensional work horses detached from family and non-work personal relationships. I don’t know any people like that and don’t want to.

    • And I suspect that the “underdevelopment” of Olivia’s character is deliberate. It’s how Shonda will keep you all coming back, season after season, to find out in dribs and drabs what the hell makes this woman tick!

      • Precisely Steve-annie! Has anyone not noticed that the logo for Shonda is a roller coaster? Twists, loops, drops, heights – she delivers each piece in its “right” time not too fast and if you’re paying attention you get all the pieces. The season finale with Olivia saying “I know who it is and I don’t care” to Cyrus and then facing Joe Morton in the limo saying “Dad?!” didn’t see that coming at all! Every gladiator put it all together at that moment – literally. You understood why she was smart – look who her daddy was. You also understood why she was determined to put the White Hat Back On. (Again – check the episode titles and pay attention during the show).

        Why people have a problem with a well executed script, great direction, actors and story flow on a fictional show but no problem with black folk acting a fool on reality shows is what worries me. Why aren’t we concerned with those shows? Those are supposed to be real and we have no issue with those?!?! Do they really show “us” in the best possible light? Do they really keep from stereotypical anything? NO! Until we have a serious look at “reality” television and why everybody wants to be on it and Lord knows just about anyone can get a TV show if they are crazy enough, then to pick apart a show like Scandal is really hilarious. Scandal is written to entertain, not to teach or make political commentary although it gets its digs in each week. It was designed because the real life Olivia Pope is a bad mama jama – note she is an executive producer and while I am sure the names have been changed to protect the innocent or guilty, I often wonder how many of her real life cases make it into the storylines. And do we know if there is a B613? Makes you wonder. I think we would be better served by looking at the real political issues like why we can’t seem to get our Congress to do the job WE elected them to do. Tyler Perry wasn’t known by anyone other than us for a long time. Shonda Rhimes couldn’t get her foot in the door for a long time – these two “overnight” successes worked long and hard and don’t feel they have to speak for the entire African-American race. What are any of us doing on a regular basis where that is concerned? Say what you will – but they earned their money without whining, key word is earned and now are powerbrokers that are bankable in Hollywood and beyond. Get your Thursday night fix and enjoy the escape.

  8. “Scandal” is a well written political drama starring a fabulous black actress as the lead character. Ms. Rhimes does an excellent job of exploring the psyche of her characters and analyzing their motives, rationale and dysfunction. Black people are not monolithic. The complexity of Olivia’s affair with a white Republican is as interesting as the irony of Condoleezza Rice and “W” Bush. Miscegenation is American history, not simply black history Dr. Jason. Allowing this show to entertain and yes, inform is an asset to our media saturated electorate. It spans the generations and crosses the gay, ethnic and racial divide. Let’s celebrate her artistry and political acumen and validate her success! The real question should be, what took the networks so long?

  9. Conversations I’ve heard from black men about this show are wide ranging but most seem to have a problem with the show and the relationship between Olivia & Fitz.

    I would suggest to these men to first examine the phenomena of black men and white women before they forge an opinion about this TV couple. Some Black men have been wildly hypocritcal about this dynamic while freely dating and in some cases obsessing over white women.

    Some Black men of late have engaged in vile and hateful speak about black women and on YouTube revel in telling them how unloveable they are. It’s a bunch of BS but it’s done.

    Long story short. Black women are going to do what they want, explore the way they want and no amount of venom is going to stop that. Before you make a snap judgement about this tv couple or the White man Black woman thing in general, take a minute to explore the Black man’s fetish with white woman. Only then are you equipped to have a real conversation about this topic. At the end of the day, people should be with who they love.

  10. It is disturbing to see the way some people are pulling the “just happy to be here massa” card in response to Olivia’s “attention” from the President.

    Since people are getting so intense about a stupid show I might as well take the time to dissect this.

    ALL ATTENTION IS NOT POSITIVE ATTENTION!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That is what some of these die hard fans either cannot see or choose not to see. I don’t care how “hot n steamy’ some people are perceiving it to be (which in my opinion it definitely isn’t) there IS something demeaning, immoral and overall TACKY about someone having a semi public (the presidents wife even knows) affair with a black woman who is otherwise relatively attractive, smart and accomplished who turns down men who are single, eligible and WILLING to marry her just to what??? remain someone’s sideline hoe for all eternity?

    Nah, I don’t blame people for calling bullshit on that. Media is almost always going to have some underlying messages in it whether negative or positive and sometimes these messages aren’t even intentional they arise out of the subconscious of the writers. This is why many white writers when asked why they don’t include minority characters on their shows state that its because they cannot “picture” a minority in their stories. This lily white “picture” derives from the subconscious of the white writer, the same place where Americans of all colors hold their dehumanized beliefs about black people.

    The problem some blacks have is that as beautiful and intelligent as Olivia is, she is still being denigrated to the position of backroom sneak-a-leak slut. I can see how people would perceive this as disrespectful.

    And in reality, even supporters of IR relationships should realize that this portrayal is not a progressive image of them but a very very REGRESSIVE image of them. Of course it is simply a cheezy soap opera and intended for adults but media sends a message whether it wants to or not and of course strong minded people don’t take their cues from the media, but strong minded people FORGET THAT NOT EVERY F***ING PERSON IS STRONG MINDED.

    Most people actually are easily influenced. Humans just like birds, bears, lions, etc. are animals of example. From birth baby animals WATCH the actions of their parents to determine how they should behave then IMITATE the actions they have seen. This is the same principal that television uses. Humans are watching other humans (albeit hypothetically) and from that many subconsciously mimic what they have seen.

    So what message could Scandal be sending to Americans? And further, is it a positive one?

    Well I’ll try and decode it, although I know I’m not perfect at it and no one can ever really know what another person takes away from something, but…why not try?

    By decode I mean pick apart all of the emotional fluff, the music, the scenery and really look at whats actually taking place, because that is what the subconscious will record.

    So, Olivia Pope, the heroine, a pretty lady (which will further the influence she has on black girls who are watching–girls are more likely to imitate an attractive woman vs. an unattractive one) is in an AFFAIR with a married man who is essentially her old boss because she worked on his campaign trail. She although “claiming” to be smart and follow an infallible gut constantly runs to the president whenever he wants. Then in a seemingly pleasant and stable relationship with an accomplished black man who loved her, she decides she wants drama and not peace in her love life.

    What does this teach young black girls? If a man “says” he wants me then its totes okay to help him cheat on his wife. Dangerous affairs are more ‘real’ than uncomplicated, committed happy love and I should choose drama, disrespect and isolation over commitment and respect and honor as the real, legal ONE wife of a man or hell at least the legitimate girlfriend. This is where true love is for me, in this sleazy high risk affair, this is where passion should be.

    If you think I’m making this up there is a speech of Olivia’s when she breaks up with the black senator where she says exactly this. ^

    What does it tell white males? Well I can’t totally be sure because I’m not one but I’ll hypothesize: a) if you really have the “hotzzz” for a black chick then its totally fine to keep her as a sideline hoe, there’s nothing creepy or illegitimate about that at all. Its also fine to call her a whore when she does something you disagree with or decides to break up with you and then tell her that of course she’s not a whore when you’re tryna get back in them business slacks yanno what I’m sayin??

    what does the show overall say to white women? well two distinct things: on one hand we see Olivia Pope being the resident mammy of her “team”. These white women like Olivia, they TRUST her. She rescues Quinn and takes out the knee caps of a past abusive ex husband of the red head ( I forgot her name). This, the mothering of an adult black woman on grown white women, is mammy-ing. It just is. On the other hand it teaches white women that if a black woman is NOT mammy-ing you, then they are an untrustable hoe eager to destabilize their families and destroy their marriages. Even if a white female is a fan of this show, I promise you, this image (either mammy or untrustable hoe) is being planted into the subconscious of the white female. So in real life, if a black female is not mammy-ing, giving her very all to support and protect ONLY the interests of the white female, the white female can therefore not trust the black female and she becomes the untrustable hoe.

    These are archetypes from SLAVERY just rewashed given a new varnish and posted up for this century. A lot of minorities have blogs or what not where they complain that their white female friends always are expecting them to serve their interests, listen to their problems only, worry about their lives only. I can bet you these white people don’t even know that is what they are doing. They are just responding to the archetype that is in their subconscious. This is the same reason for the c**nery we see from black people today. Its behaviors and ideas that were in our heads long before we knew how to look for them.

    This does not absolve people from guilt for their actions but it is an explanation as to why we see this behavior occurring.

    So in my opinion Scandal really isn’t representing a new, fresh and progressive look at American politics, its just rehashing the same subconscious images from the past.

    Black women from a few decades ago, who were more aware of the imagery of slavery/propaganda against blacks to justify their bondage WOULD HAVE NEVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR cosigned and fangirled for a show where the leading black lady is a mistress. It just would never happen. Right now blacks a suffering not from lack of knowledge but for forgetting and failing to pass down the knowledge that was known by our ancestors.

    Peace.

    • I found this post fascinating, and provocative.

      I feel compelled to tell you I’m a white male, for some reason. Your depth of insight has truly made me question more than a thing or two about a thing or two in regards to this particular entertainment. And beyond just entertainment.

      I honestly can’t argue with a sentence of it.

      Well done, and thank you.

    • TRUTH,
      My wife asked me to watch the first 2 seasons with her and I obliged. I w anted to see what all the hype and talk was about. Of course, this was well into season 3 or 4 and we binge watched the first 2 seasons.

      My first thoughts were that Shonda was a genius. The drama was like nothing I’d ever seen on a television show. But I quickly started feeling a void..a serious void…why wasn’t Olivia with a black man? The most powerful woman in Washington DC was not only involved in an unhealthy affair with a married man but she completely SHITTED on and USED the one black man that actually loved her and treated her with respect. That left a terrible feeling within me and it never subsided. I too saw the backgrounds of Huck and Quinn being explored. But Harrison, the lone black male “gladiator”, was just as you said…a work horse with no external life..not even a casual love interest. Is it a coincidence that he was removed from the show and his character never replaced?

      I completely share your sentiment above. But then again, we are the type of people that understand television’s effect on the subconscience. We think AND watch. We are both entertained and outraged because these “actors” are only playing out the nuances in the minds of writers and producers.

  11. Ok. I may well get shot down here as a Brit — a black Brit but a Brit no less. I have to say that we face similar issues here in regards to representation and often stare in awe and envy at the diversity and number of roles afforded non-white actors on US TV. A reason why many of our actors – black, white and asian are over there!! I understand there are still a lot of problems around representation in the USA but I think that, whilst we are aware of the challenges faced by people of color on an everyday basis, be they ‘ghetto’ or otherwise, we should also be happy to enjoy what is basically a very entertaining show without placing a very large burden on the producers to represent what it is to be black in the USA or elsewhere as though it were some kind of monolithic experience. A lot of my black friends, (yes, there are a lot more of us than the tourist board or the heritage Brit films might have you think!), grow up in this country with very different experiences not simply because of distance but also because of the way they have chosen to interpret those experiences. The same is true for me. From what I understand, America is a tad larger than England so distance there is a much bigger thing and I am pretty sure leads to pretty different interpretations of similar experiences among African Americans.

    I enjoy this show tremendously. I do not watch it thinking it should speak to my experience specifically or to the ‘black experience’ generally. And I disagree with comments that deny the show has acknowledged race issues. I think it does so in an intelligent and subtle way that speaks volumes to those of us who know.

    The show has literally just finished its 2nd season. it is still in its infancy. Can’t we let it mature at its own pace to the point where it finds its own voice? I am sure many things we have in common will be addressed as it goes on. Let’s give it a chance to do that and not submerge it in our expectations that it should answer real life questions on our behalf..
    okay, that’s my two pennies…or is it two bits? tuppence? I can never quite remember..

  12. Seriously, all black folks need to move on, i m not kidding. White folks try their best to move on somehow that’s why they succeed. I am black so I know what i am talking about. and by the way i am marry to a white folk and we love each other like crazyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. this article is false and I think this Dr that wrote really needs to move on. 🙂

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