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Celebrities / Television PopWrapped | Celebrities

NY Times On Shonda Rhimes: Why The 'Angry Black Woman' Trope Makes Me Angry

Sharmake Bouraleh | PopWrapped Author

Sharmake Bouraleh

09/24/2014 1:20 am
PopWrapped | Celebrities
NY Times On Shonda Rhimes: Why The 'Angry Black Woman' Trope Makes Me Angry | shonda rhimes
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In what is an unsurprisingly incredibly offensive and racist post by the incredibly offensive and racist Alessandra Stanley, a TV critic over at the New York Times, Shonda Rhimes comes under fire in what is the most idiotic and intellectually-questionable manner known to human beings. We're reaching a whole new level of stupid here, people. Just when you thought we'd plateau'd at the cap of human stupidity and would instead rise in intelligence, this particularly heinous post reared its ugly, ignorant head. To ram home the fact how disgusting this article was, allow me to quote the very first line:
Ok, maybe that's not a direct quote, but that's how it came off. This is what she actually said:
When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called “How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.”
You'd better hope someone doesn't include this if ever there is written a biography of you. Probably won't need to, since about a billion people have already read you. Our friends (at least in my head) at Vulture have already written responses to this, Margaret Lyons (a paragraph by paragraph breakdown of this fuckery) and E. Alex Jung's (showing the celebrities who disagreed with Ales-so-getting-fired) in particular standing out. But I feel the need to take a crack at breaking the bullshit that surrounds my sisters in soul and skin. Referencing the paragraphs Margaret referenced, as well as perhaps a few more, I'll shake this down for you guys.
"When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman."
Please log out of life and never return.
"On Thursday, Ms. Rhimes will introduce How to Get Away With Murder, yet another network series from her production company to showcase a powerful, intimidating black woman. This one is Annalise Keating, a fearsome criminal defense lawyer and law professor played by Viola Davis. And that clinches it: Ms. Rhimes, who wrought Olivia Pope on Scandal and Dr. Miranda Bailey on Grey’s Anatomy, has done more to reset the image of African-American women on television than anyone since Oprah Winfrey."
What is it with these claims? Why are people fond of saying "X has reset the image of
in [X/arbitrary amount of time] years." Even if Ms. Rhimes was in the wrong, even if she was doing something problematic, this does not reflect on her entire race. Let me repeat for those who learn from repetition: SHONDA RHIMES IS NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF HER ENTIRE RACE!  To hold one person accountable for the image of the entire ethnic group they belong to is a fallacy just waiting to happen. I think it speaks more to the intimidation you feel, Alessandra, in regards to black women getting slightly more screen time and roles than they did before. And you are in absolutely no position as a white woman to speak on what does or does not constitute the reset of the image of African-American women on television. Take several seats and stay seated. This is not a conversation that involves you; if you wish to engage or are 'concerned' with the image of African-American women on television, then let the African-American women who contribute to television (i.e. Shonda Rhimes) do their job, and when they speak, you listen. You are not to lead the conversation about something that does not involve you. Several thank yous for the several seats you just took. Also, you lost the moment you said Oprah reset the image of African-American women on television. #ByeFelicia
"Be it Kerry Washington on Scandal or Chandra Wilson on Grey’s Anatomy,they can and do get angry. One of the more volcanic meltdowns in soap opera history was Olivia’s "Earn me" rant on Scandal."
Is there a particular reason that there's a problem with women being angry solely when it comes to black women? Why is it one never hears about an "angry white woman" trope? Why is it never any other race than black women? Why does a black women being angry even matter to you? There are plenty of reasons for black women to be angry, as there are many reasons for women in general to be mad. From unwarranted cat-calls to non-consensual hair-touching/pulling by white people (This happens to all black people, but women especially. Does this look like a petting zoo? Hands off.) who act as if they've never seen natural hair before, to being disrespected by the very black men they uplift and support. You would be mad. Anyone would be mad if you had half as much shit to wade through as black women do. So why is it only black women catch flak for this? At the same time, to dub them the racist and offensive "angry black women" is to dismiss, belittle, and ignore their achievements, opinions, ideas, actions and words. You are literally saying that because they are capable of feeling an emotion, an emotion that may or may not be as evident as any other they experience, their opinions are invalid and their voices are silenced. To get angry is to be human. Life makes people angry sometimes. So how precisely does that mean black women are being set back because they get angry? Like, that is genuinely one of the most trivial things to try and dismiss someone's existence over. Step up your game, Alessandra. Not to mention she literally only mentioned two characters and then goes "WELP, THAT'S IT, SHONDA'S RUINING BLACK WOMEN FOR US WHITE FOLK'S CONSUMPTION AND ENTERTAINMENT ON THURSDAY NIGHTS BECAUSE THEY EXPERIENCE HUMAN-LIKE EMOTIONS AND REACT TO INFURIATING THINGS WITH ANGER, BETTER WRITE A VERY VERBOSE AND VERY INCENDIARY ARTICLE ABOUT SOMETHING I LITERALLY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT." So that's always nice.
"Ms. Rhimes has embraced the trite but persistent caricature of the Angry Black Woman, recast it in her own image and made it enviable. She has almost single-handedly trampled a taboo even Michelle Obama couldn't break."
No. Ms. Rhimes has made black women leads in television shows when they are struggling to get jobs, not only as actors, but in general because of the colour of their skin and their sex. Ms. Rhimes has made black women believe that they can be beautiful, that they can be successful, that they can be represented, that they can be lawyers, that they can be professors, that they can do anything anyone else can. Most importantly, she has made young black girls and young black women realize that they are being represented, that in a world of white, in a sea of static stereotypes, they can aspire to and achieve anything they wish to do. Black girls and women are the ones who are disrespected and discriminated against the most, and they need the most support and love and respect because they are strong and deserve so much more than what this life has given them. And Shonda Rhimes is trying to make that a little bit better so that black girls and women in the future won't have to suffer as much as their ancestors have. Shonda is pushing for racial equality, and for not only black, but female empowerment as a whole. Also, I don't understand: you literally wrote an entire article about the "Angry Black Woman" but she's the one embracing the "persistent caricature of the Angry Black Woman"? You're the one who's dismissing everything she does as "angry black women! blah!" dismissing her as an angry black woman? What kind of backward, fucked-up, sideways-to-Sunday circular fallacious logic is that? Is this what the NY Times is producing now?
"They certainly are not as benign and reassuring as Clair Huxtable, the serene, elegant wife, mother and dedicated lawyer on The Cosby Show. In 2008, commentators as different as the comedian Bill Cosby and the Republican strategist Karl Rove agreed that it was the shining, if fictional, example of the Huxtables that prepared America for a black president and first lady."
"Hey, you know what would be cool? If, and I'm just saying if, we had, like, all black women be as "benign and reassuring" as Clair Huxtable. Let's make them serene and elegant while we're at it. Oh, and just throw in motherhood and marriage. While we're at it, let's lighten their skin and straighten their hair. They're definitely less menacing that way. Let's make 'em obedient and efficient, and able to endure hardship because they're "strong black women." Then let's put them in the sun and have them pick cot--...wait, why does this feel like familiar territory? Have I seen this somewhere before?" Again, please log out of life. Black women are not static. They are not all the same. The only thing they have in common is their skin colour and their gender. They are as varied as the colours in the rainbow, the flavours of Jelly Belly jelly beans, and the octaves of Beyonce and Mariah combined. They're not going to all be like Clair Huxtable, and for you to try and latch onto one black female that you deem acceptable in disposition and characterization and try to dismiss everyone else that does not fit that mold is very racist. You're trying to mold them into your preferences. Oh, but Shonda is the one who wants black women in her own image? Right.
"Even now, six years into the Obama presidency, race remains a sensitive, incendiary issue not only in Ferguson, Mo., but also just about everywhere except ShondaLand, as her production company is called. In that multicultural world, there are many African-Americans at the top of every profession. But even when her heroine is the only nonwhite person in the room, it is the last thing she or anyone around her notices or cares about."

HAHAHAHAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHA. I'm not even going to touch this one with a ten-foot e-pole. Except to say that ignoring race in a world where the ancestors of white people literally invented the social construct in order to assert themselves as the superior race, as well as race being oftentimes the sole reason we as people of colour are gunned down, harassed, murdered, denied health care, ignored by the police when we need help and killed when we don't, turned down for jobs and thought to be inherently suspicious or criminal for the abundance of melanin in our skin just paints you as a rather questionable individual whose white privilege literally grants you the ability to be ignorant about things you do not experience and injustices you do not face.
"As Annalise, Ms. Davis, 49, is sexual and even sexy, in a slightly menacing way, but the actress doesn’t look at all like the typical star of a network drama. Ignoring the narrow beauty standards some African-American women are held to, Ms. Rhimes chose a performer who is older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful than Ms. Washington, or for that matter Halle Berry, who played an astr
onaut on the summer mini-series Extant." "Classically beautiful." She means white. Straight-haired, light-skinned. Don't bother sugar coating it, sweetie.
"Ms. Davis is perhaps best known for her role in The Help as a stoic maid in the segregated South, a role for which she was nominated for a best actress Oscar. As it turned out, it was her Help co-star Octavia Spencer, playing the sassy back talker, who won an Oscar (for supporting actress)."
Ugh. "Sassy."
"As a guest host, Ms. Washington was very funny in a number of skits designed by S.N.L. to mock and defuse the issue without stirring further offense. Soon after, the show hired Sasheer Zamata, its first black woman since Maya Rudolph left the show in 2007. The show suddenly seems to be on a diversity jag: On the season premiere this month, another black comedian, the newcomer Michael Che, will make his debut as an anchor of 'Weekend Update.'"
... Alessandra Stanley took the hiring of a black man to be a 'diversity jag' on the part of SNL. Let me repeat that: hiring a black man, according to Ales-seriously-is-she-fired-yet means that she was hired, not because of his talents or comedic potential, but because SNL had to fill a certain racial quota. But apparently we're all past race and it's the last thing anyone sees, right? Get out. I'm literally so done. Cannot function with such ignorance. Log out of life, unplug yourself, and pick up a book. Educate yourself before you post drivel online and embarrass yourself on such a global scale. I'm seriously embarrassed for you. The second-hand embarrassment is real.

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