Editorial Staff

Hating On The Single, Successful (And Happy!) Black Woman: The Case of Shonda Rhimes

I watched the premiere of ABC’s new mid-season television show ‘Scandal’ featuring the lovely Kerry Washington as a crisis manager residing in D.C. Kerry plays the part of Olivia Pope, a role loosely based on the life of Judy Smith, a real-life Washington D.C.-based crisis manager who also represented Monica Lewinsky during the Clinton sex scandal. I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode–Kerry was sexy, smart, in-control, and, best of all, her wardrobe was classy and professional. Shout-out to the stylist who picked Ms. Washington’s clothing. There were some problems with the show: the story line moved by at breakneck speed–blink and you probably missed someone saying something important; choppy acting from a couple of the characters; but, all-in-all, I think the show has great potential.

Not surprisingly, everyone doesn’t feel the same way I do and there are already people rooting for the demise of the show. “AJ,” a commenter over at What About Our Daughters spoke her piece about ‘Scandal’ and the screenwriter/producer of the show, Shonda Rhimes:

personally, i won’t watch it because Shonda rhimes’ track record tells me that this show will be crap. it already has all the markers – black man will get with white woman in loving relationship, KW, the black woman, will just simply sleep around with men, with no emotion other than maybe lust involved; KW will encourage and play housemaid to and bff to white chick, cheering on her IR relationship (or will possibly have a contentious black-woman-as-bitch relationship with the white chick), KW will eventually become the bitch that everyone hates, while white chick becomes the poor, loving good girl terrorized by the hardass BW.

shondha rhimes, afterall, is the coon who enthusiastically jumped on a project to make the helena andrews book “bitch is the new black” into a movie.

she works hand in hand with the msm to put out negative stereotypes against black women, and it’s done it’s job. we’re all smart, but hateful bitches. plz. the evidence of the reach and power of the lie shondha rihimes has spread is visible just walking down the streets of many american cities – black men with women of any race but black in huge numbers. i see more and more black men accepting outright lies about black women, and more and more black men leaving the black community because of it. i see more and more black women being treated like dirt in the workplace because of the false perception being pushed about us. i refuse to promote anything this hag presents. just my opinion.

I’m surprised AJ didn’t write “GET BEHIND ME SATAN!” anywhere in that comment. And just think, AJ has that much vitriol for a show that she admits to not even watching a full minute of. Aside from calling Ms. Rhimes a coon, AJ also called Rhimes a–and I quote–“true devil in the flesh”

Despite AJ’s admitted ignorance of what actually took place on the first and second episodes of Scandal I still think her comment deserves attention because it shines a light on just how much hatred there is out there for successful, black women who don’t make ‘finding the love of a good black man’ and ‘promoting the well-being of the black community’ the epicenter of their existence.

The real question is, why does AJ have so much vitriol for Shonda Rhimes? Rhimes is a Dartmouth educated screenwriter who consistently puts powerful and attractive black women on-screen. Ms. Rhimes has adopted two beautiful black children.

Ms. Rhimes should be applauded, instead AJ (and her ilk) seem to be projecting all of their disappointment over (1) the fact that black men choose to exercise their right to date out, and (2) the fact there are single, successful, happy black women our there who choose live life on their own terms without spending every waking moment fretting over how to get a (black) man. The same sort of vitriol and derision that I have seen being heaped upon Shonda Rhimes now reminds me of the hatred I saw being heaped upon Oprah by some black women.

Oprah chose not to get married to Stedman; instead, she decided that she preferred to maintain a long-term committed relationship with him and to not have children. Despite the trauma that Oprah experienced in her past and despite her struggles with weight (which she was gracious enough to share with the whole world in order to let other people who were struggling with weight know that they were not alone), the woman managed to build a media empire, build schools in South Africa, and give millions to charity. Ever since The Oprah Winfrey Show debuted until the time that original episodes went off the air, Oprah kept plenty of people employed and eating good. Yet still, some folks were making statements along the lines of Oprah is too traumatized from her childhood and she is a bad role model for other black folks who might need therapy and Oprah needs to marry Stedman and have kids or else she is a bad role model (i.e., Oprah is a Mammy).

Let’s get back to Shondra Rhimes and the AJ’s of the world. Women like Shondra Rhimes become the punching bag for the frustrations of women like AJ who are mad that black men date non-black women. It is not the fault of Shonda Rhimes, or any other black women, that black men exercise their right to date whom they please. Blaming Shonda Rhimes for the out-marriage rates of black men is dangerously close to saying that if black women would just act right, then the black men would come home. It is this fear that some black women have which keeps them seeing boogeymen everywhere; AJ intimates that the black male lawyer on ‘Scandal’ will get involved with a white female co-worker (which is possible, this is television), but anyone who has watched the first episode would know that there was absolutely zero sexual tension between the black guy and the white woman–so why does AJ fear that the two will get together?

AJ thinks Kerry’s character, Olivia Pope, will be promiscuous, but Kerry’s character did not get sexually involved with anyone in the first episode. That might change, but if it does, then so what? As a single, attractive woman, Kerry’s character should be expected to begin dating at some point.

The young white woman who is a new hire to Pope’s firm acts just as you would expect a new hire to act: nervous about her new responsibilities and supplicating towards her new boss. Nothing in the first episode of ‘Scandal’ gave the appearance that Olivia Pope is going to be a “housemaid” to her young, white underling, or a mother hen to the myriad other employees of her firm. All of this stuff about the black man sleeping with the white woman while Kerry’s character plays Mother Goose are the projections of a frantic, sad woman who wants to blame somebody–anybody!–for the fact that black men date out and that not all black women are chasing those men in an attempt to get said men to ‘come home’.

As the first season of ‘Scandal’ progresses–and at only 7 episodes, it will be a short season–expect the claws to come out as some black women express their anger at Shonda Rhimes for creating the character of Olivia Pope–a beautiful, ambitious, charismatic lawyer who also just happens to be a black woman.

Let the haters hate.

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