‘Scandal’ Exploits Black Women’s Images?? Huh?

by Demetria L. Lucas

Over time, I’ve noticed that We the Blacks, collectively, have an annoying habit of criticizing so many things to death. We — some, not all — can look at something that is widely perceived as fair and decent (or at least way better than he standard reality TV fare we’re mostly offered) and then stare it down, scour, and overanalyze it until we can’t see any good in it, only the problems galore. It’s not constructive criticism; it’s just complaining.

Last night, I checked into The Root for my digest of what’s new in politico world and found more complaining. This time is was from Tom Burrell, a 45-year vet of the advertising industry, moaning about — out of all the things actually worthy of complaint on TV —   Scandal. Burrell told The Root:

I’ve got major problems with Scandal. It comes dressed up and masqueraded as something new, but Scandal is basically a continuing perpetuation of the stereotype of a black woman whose libido and sexual urges are so pronounced that even with an education and a great job, and all these other things, she can’t control herself.

He adds:

But the message that is really being delivered is that no matter how much education you get and how much power you get, you’ve still got that “around the way girl” in you. It’s basically saying that black women are innately, inherently, hot to trot. He doesn’t seduce her. She seduces him.

Are we watching the same show?

I watch Scandal — over and over and over — because I see a positive image of a professional Black woman. Pope is a smart, respected, relied upon, fully (and wonderfully)–clad, quick-witted, shrewd, compassionate, well-connected businesswoman … who is also flawed. That makes for good TV. She’s got mystery, back story — though I can’t find any evidence of “around the way girl” so far — and in some instances, has questionable ethics. She’s is multi-layered, multi-dimensional and yes, she’s even an adult woman who has a sex drive, God help her, and she’s not afraid to indulge it (even if admittedly, it wasn’t the best choice of man).

I’ve heard the complaints from Black women about their representations in media, and I’ve penned my fair share of stories on this topic to add to the heap. I recognize the importance of positive images and the destructive nature of negative ones, but it’s unnecessary and just not so entertaining to trade in one caricature of what Black women are — always loud, aggressive, sex-obsessed — for another equally unrealistic one — always demure, passive, virginal.

It’s a little weird to me that Burrell picked up Pope’s sexcapades when it’s not even a present part of the life of her character, who is trying to do better. That steamy affair is backstory (notably with current repercussions in the series). Pope quit her job and started a new hustle, her own crisis management firm, to move on out of that trap. And despite several advances by he ex-lover, she has so far steered clear of following her heart back into tumultuous trenches, even if it’s very apparent that’s where she wants to be, just like that Donell Jones song. She’s had past indiscretions, but clearly a whole lot of present control.

Scandal isn’t a perfectly pious show, which the series title should give away. And it’s not perfect either (but close). But for those of us who are prone to complain about everything, it’s important to gain some perspective. Scandal is the first network TV drama with a black female lead character in most of our lifetimes. (The last of this kind was “Get Christie Love!” in 1974, which ran for one season.) This show and its feat were a long time coming, and while it’s always cool to have an opinion, understand that harping on the little things doesn’t open the door any wider for other shows featuring black woman as leading talent to get through.

Demetria L. Lucas the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. ABIB is available to download and now in paperback. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk


  • http://www.facebook.com/charlita.huffman Charlita Huffman

    This is so idiotic. A strong black woman is on a show and she has flaws and is a real person and of course we must be being exploited. Do we ALWAYS have to play victim? Every show doesn’t have to show EVERY facet of EVERY black woman’s experience.

  • Jillian

    Well, I think his opinion is a good one, but I think she plays more into gender stereotypes when she is in scenes with her love interest than Black woman stereotypes. It is the Hollywood movie swoonfest where she gets doe-eyed and melts into his arms. That may also be Kerry’s acting too. Regardless of our thoughts concerning the stereotype portrayed, I agree with the author here that it is good television and I’m all too excited to tune in and to continue to support the show and the excellent writing of Shonda Rimes who we can at least celebrate as a damn good writer, as a human being.

  • Ms. Information

    I don’t watch the show or really that much tv for that matter but I think that the level of criticism from black people stems from the lack of diverse images of black women…we are always the mammy, the strong backbone with or without attitude or the sexual deviant….I know more black women who act like Issa Rae and Tracy Ross than I do these tired stereotypes.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    I’m with the writer; I have no idea what show Tom Burrell was watching.

    I have only seen season 1 of Scandal since I don’t have cable, only netflix. During season 1, I only saw her have sex once…and even then, I think it was a flashback.

  • Julie

    I agree with the author here. I have watched every episode of Scandal. I do not see any stereotype that he mentions. This show is plain good television. I love that the main character is Black, strong, sexy, successful, and well off financially. She’s human, so she must have a downfall. This done so well. Those who criticize need to watch the show and forget the colour of Olivia’s skin. You will just see good entertainment.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    i think the show is poorly done. the writing is terrible. i cannot watch it. black people are correct to criticize it. i wait for the producers of black shows to rise above the soap opera level. i wait.

  • http://Www.bettyecfleming.com Bettye Fleming

    This is absurd. Keeping in mind that its entertainment I can see the need to overanalyze the images represented in the show. First, when I see Kerry Washington with her “beau”, I do not see color. I see heat, passion love. Which, to me, speaks to the writing of Shonda Rhimes and not this character Burrell complains about. The most recent episode was a depiction of black women handling a disagreement with class. With the catty foolishness that has become popular topics of discussion in our community as well as the stereotype Mr. Burrell should be complaining about. Scandal is a show that is not just entertaining but, a new direction in television. Taking a much needed break from the craziness of “reality” tv. Ultimately, it’s a great show. I’m a black woman who identifies with “Olivia Pope” and I must say… I like how I look.

  • Ravi

    You are presenting the same false dichotomy that was presented in the comments section of the other article on the topic.

    ” for another equally unrealistic one — always demure, passive, virginal.”

    There is no middle ground? If black women aren’t having sex with married men then they have to be boring, sexless nuns? How about someone with a sex drive that is not involved with a married man?

    Burrell never suggested that the only acceptable image of a black woman on screen was some sort of paragon of virtue. You are making a straw man argument. Even if you can’t see it, this is clearly a part of the long line of popular representations of black woman as being sexually deviant in some way shape or form. The fact that you overlook her indiscretions as simply “questionable ethics” speaks volumes of the extent to which such behavior has already been normalized. Or maybe it’s just not that bad when it’s a character you like or identify with.

    I’m sure this happens whenever someone has legitimate criticisms for the way we are presented on screen. I know people accused me of over-analyzing meet the browns and the Parkers. I know Spike Lee was accused of hating when he criticized Tyler Perry. The fans of a show will always be there to defend it whenever anyone has a problem with it. With all such situations, the fans failure to see how the representations are problematic is not evidence that there is no problem as much as evidence of their own inability to see outside their perspective. I’m not over-analyzing, you are under-analyzing.

  • http://gravatar.com/adalovelace Maria L.

    Agreed. Some of Burrell’s comments make me wonder whether he has even watched a single episode of the show eg “It’s basically saying that black women are innately, inherently, hot to trot. He doesn’t seduce her. She seduces him.”

    What is he talking about? It’s clearly the president that pursues Olivia throughout the entire series. Olivia is a complex character and has dubious morals but she is not “sexually aggressive” as Burrell claims. Throughout the show it is clear their affair is about love not sex.

    And THEN, in the same article Burrell praises Tyler Perry saying ” I am optimistic and hopeful that this powerful, talented tandem will produce work that will contribute to moving us out of our place (last, in all too many cases) and tell us stories that not only make us feel better, but do better.”

    Is this guy serious. TYLER MADEA PERRY making us “do better”? And he wants to accuse Shonda Rhimes of writing a “stereotyped” character? GTFO with that.

  • http://twitter.com/KiaJD Nakia (@KiaJD)

    I don’t necessarily agree with Burrell’s premise but I do believe that even shows we like can withstand some criticism. Just because something is “positive” doesn’t mean we can’t look at it with a critical eye toward the underlying messages, writing, acting, etc. That’s how you know something is really having a cultural impact — because we’re discussing it honestly and openly, with opinions on all sides. I refuse to just accept something as good and valid just because it’s “black” and different from reality tv shows. I watch the latter but subject them to criticism as well. If it’s truly good tv/movie/art, then it will be self-reflective and evolve in the face of criticism not hide from it. I like Scandal but I didn’t like the Steel Magnolias remake nor did I jump behind the random rallying cries to support Red Tails. Why? Because if we support mediocre or subpar black projects, that’s all we’ll get. And no, I would not have our stories told or reflected poorly rather than not told at all.

  • http://thebrokejetsetter.com Brokejetsetter

    Just curious, what do you like to watch?

  • http://thebrokejetsetter.com Brokejetsetter

    I coulda sworn we all blasted him last week. I guess this is Clutch’s official blast as well lol

    We all now the main components of a story. Conflict happens to the glue to all stories. We’re grown so sex and love issues will also occur. We’re only in season 2 and season 1 was 7 episodes long. CAN WE LET THE SHOW DEVELOP? I mean gahdaaaamn. Maybe, juuuuust maybe, she’ll fall in love with a beautiful man. Maybe he’ll even be black. But whatever…I think this show has legit had only 10 episodes. They want the fairytale now. If that was the case, the show would be cancelled yesterday. Sit down puhlease.

  • Lady P

    I support Scandal and love the role Kerry Washington is portraying. She is doing an awesome job. I think that regardless of what a black woman does, she is going to be place under a microscope . I agree with the article, it is great to see a positive image of a black woman being portrayed as a professional businesswoman, smart and respected. She is young and attractive; it is quite natural she will have a love interest. The object of her affection absolutely elevates scandal to another level. It makes the show even more so juicier which will continue to allure the viewers. If Kerry was white, I believe she would be considered as a hot and passionate woman. I think this gives us more reason to embrace the strength, boldness, and mental toughness she portrays. Yes, her [choice] is flawed; however, it’s part of the show. In this day and time of crazy reality shows, it is still a plus in spite of.

  • Lady P

    First, when I see Kerry Washington with her “beau”, I do not see color. I see heat, passion love. — YES!

  • http://twitter.com/gennatay Gennatay (@gennatay)

    0_0 Terribly written, this has to be one of the best written shows on television right now.

  • Trisha

    How about someone with a sex drive that is not involved with a married man — the choice is flawed, but I do like the steaminess!

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    ‘last resort’, ‘law & order’ ,’CSI’, ‘the good wife’

  • http://gravatar.com/ravsmith78 Ravi

    No comprendo. not sure what you mean by choice is flawed.

  • omfg

    i like scandal.

    that is all…

  • Trisha

    Her choice is flawed by sleeping with a married man which is her choice…njz here.

  • Houston

    Correction. Black women are extremely critical of each other; hair, relationships, black men, body types, shoes, not being represented on TV or in movies, etc. And now this…

  • Yb

    Ummm……but a black man criticized this show. Not us. So what were you saying again?

  • http://www.thelewiseffect.blogspot.com Yogi

    I agree this show is as good as it gets. Kerry is doing a wonderful job and I am excited to see how her character will develop this season and beyond. I just hope it has a longer run than Hawthorne which TNT dropped after 3 seasons. In my opinion that show was just starting to hit its stride when it got pulled!

  • Yb

    I enjoy watching Scandal, and definitely feel that Olivia Pope’s character offers a much needed portrayal of black women, but I’d lying if I said that her being a mistress (or ex-mistress) didn’t bother me. I don’t believe Olivia is hyper sexual, and can’t control her self, nor should she be a asexual mammy, but I do feel there is a middle ground where she can be portrayed. A middle ground that most black women fall under.

    I don’t suscribe to the belief “that us negroes should accept any representation white folks give us and therefore shouldn’t complain and thankful for the scraps they give us.” I feel that even before this country’s inception, the characters of black people have been attacked and we have every right to speak out against it.

    Years from now, when asked what they remember from the show Scandal it is guaranteed that they will remember FIRST that she was the presidents mistress, and perhaps second or third her strong character points.

  • Nic

    This show is written by a black woman, one of the few who has any real power as a show creator in Hollywood. She has written a hell of a complex and fascinating black female character, so you might want to do your research the next time you comment.

  • minna k.

    “How about someone with a sex drive that is not involved with a married man.”

    I hate to disappoint you, but this actually happens in real life sometimes. Many women (gasp!) can actually relate to this.

  • minna k.

    I will just say that this need to have a “perfect” Black female character is creatively stifling for anyone looking to do art for the the public, especially Black folks doing art.

  • Yb


    The cattiness at the end of your comment was sooo not needed, and I am well aware that Shonda Rhimes is a black woman. No research is needed.

    And my statement about black people being told to accept whatever is given to them was in general, not specific to the show Scandal.

  • ChillyRoad

    I wont concern myself too much with Burrell’s criticism. Instead I would like to focus on the reception Olivia Pope has received at this site. You celebrate her character as flawed. If she were all those things and a single mother, would you still celebrate her? WHat if she wee single and overweight? What if she were all those things, powerful, intelligent, ambitious, etc. but HIV positive? Would you still like her? Probably not. What is it about her, that is such a turn on for black women?

    How are we as black women supposed to choose which images to support, and which ones to fight against? It doesnt sound like there is a consistent and coherent policy on that.

  • ChillyRoad

    How can we forget that Olivia is black? Would you celebrate a White, strong, sexy, successful and financially well off white woman on TV banging the black President if color should be incidental?

  • ChillyRoad

    So why does Tyler Perry get it in the neck all the time? In one movie he could have a bunch of black women playing different characters. In The Family That Preys, Alfrie Woodard was the sort of mammy type. She was extremely loveable, kind giving, and understanding. Obviously Sanaa Lathan, married to a black man, strong, successful, attractive, ambitious, but having an affair was the Jezebelle. Taraji P. Henson was the loyal, “around the way” black girl, happily married to a blue collar brother. And lastly Robin Given who, like Lathan was also professionally successful but was a bit of a Sapphire. Still, all those chracters were great and they certainly didnt make me cringe while watching them. They were extremely human.

  • B

    There are NO perfect characters on tv, period! Not even on the Disney Channel. Every character has drama. It’s called life.

  • Amber

    Are we still on this??? Just asking…

  • http://gravatar.com/ravsmith78 Ravi

    Why would that disappoint me? Did you misinterpret what I was saying as a claim that this sort of thing doesn’t happen in real life? My point has nothing to do with what women can relate to. In fact, that actually supports my point (gasp!). The fact that women relate to someone that sleeps with married men is problematic.

    My point was simply that the author was presenting a false dichotomy — that we can only have a black woman being represented as a mistress or as demure, passive and virginal. A woman can have a sex drive without sleeping with a married man (gasp!). Could she have sex with any of the unmarried men on the show (gasp!)? Guess that would be too boring…

  • http://gravatar.com/ravsmith78 Ravi

    I see. yeah, very flawed choice.

  • Liz

    And now this… from YOUR brethren.

  • Starla

    I’ved never watched the show, but I figured if the show is called Scandal then one would expect scandalous things to happen ever so often.

    Has anybody seen 666 Park Avenue? If so, is it worth the watch?

  • http://www.facebook.com/erica.tucker.9275 Erica Tucker

    I’m a little older so I remember Julia with Dianne Carroll. But I love Kerry Washington. She is confident, in control and has just as much stage presence as Carroll. It’s great to see someone like her be a star in her own right. But I definitely agree with Amber…Why are we talking about this? Are we that uncomfortable with Black women showing sexuality ANYWHERE that we have to make them conform? Or is Tom Burrell more upset that her sexual interest is White? Whatever it is, it will not stop me from viewing every week.

  • omfg

    i’ve watched it. i watch everything on hulu as i don’t watch regular tv or do cable.

    i’ve watched two episodes and it’s pretty decent. it’s suspenseful a bit and worth watching at least one episode.

  • beks

    Part the reason why there is no policy is that we are individuals, not a voting block. There is a misconception that we all believe or should believe one thing. There are political policies that we (should) support as a voting block…but our opinions are as varied as colors in the crayola box! – as they should be… We don’t expect white people to have a single policy on anything! So we should not expect people of color to either…(especially not regarding the fictional representations of black women).

  • Blue

    I didn’t watch the show but I have to agree that “we black people” complain about things that aren’t really necessary to complain about.

  • Ness

    the good wife has soap opera drama as well, not to mention the extramarital affair between alicia and will

  • fancypants

    Scandal is just a good show period. I’ve never thought about her representation of us as black women because to me she is just a well-written character on a television show. The way her character is written doesn’t come across as being tailored to fit a particular stereotype of a black woman. I just don’t get that, I’m sorry. I feel like some people are just grasping at straws.

    Now last weeks episode did make me very proud. You had two black women in a very messy situation that handled it with dignity and class. Where are the articles about that? Oh, I forgot, people only write about negativity…

  • Cali

    I adore this show & I agree that folks are complaining to complain. She’s in a difficult situation AND THAT’S OK. There is NOTHING “round the way” about this character. Do Black women on tv have to be completely void of all sexuality? Aren’t we still human? Ooooh. Weeeee. !!!

  • http://gravatar.com/libpatriot GeekMommaRants

    In another community, it would be normal and in our community its normal. Adultery is not a phase. The character is a strong independent (read, I do what I want). The biblical image you have does not jive with reality. Nor does it jive with the themes of this show.

  • Egypt

    Exactly! The criticism accounts for the lack of representations overall. Quite frankly, I’m disgusted that Scandal is the first network drama with a black female lead in three decades. Three decades, really??!! Clearly we have come far, but not far enough…There’s still work to be done.

  • Danielle

    I already commented last week that I disagreed with Burrell on this one but I take issue with the contention that black people have an annoying habit of criticizing everything. Ironically, that is a criticism in and of itself and it is the worst type of criticism since it faults the entire black community with a particular habit that, implicitly, no other race struggles with. And that couldn’t be further from the truth. Thanks to the internet and social media, we now have an unprecedented window into the human soul and guess what? EVERYONE complains, over-analyses, gossips, criticizes, etc. At least black folks have a reason to be so critical seeing as blacks have been oppressed, enslaved, discriminated and incarcerated for hundreds of years. This is such a double standard and it is disturbing when it is self-imposed like it was here. Have you heard white folks complaining about unemployment lately? Yet black folks have had a much higher rate for way longer. I am sure there are countless examples I could give here where if white folks went through an ounce of what black folks go through they would be complaining to say the least.

  • CJ

    I felt the same way regarding the last episode. I was very pleased to see black women portrayed with dignity and compassion in a situation that is usually portrayed with name-calling and hair-pulling.

    When I hear black people complain about Scandal, I just shake my head. We have a black woman in a LEAD role that is powerful, intelligent and as well-imaged as a black woman has EVER been, and STILL we want to complain. Our self-hate has no boundaries.

  • Viva Lola

    OMG!!! r u kidding me, Scandal exploits Black women!! CLUTCH MAG. u REALLY need to STOP!!! BET network, rapper videos and Black “video vixen” are INDEED exploiting Black women in the WORST way may I add!!! Is it me or does the Black community love passing the buck! It’s ALWAY someone else doing something to Black Men or Women… SOOOO tired of ppl not take RESPONSIBLE for their OWN ACTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All that is wrong with the Black community Blacks are RESPONSIBLE for hands down!!!! Single family home, Black on Black CRIME(a major issue) that blacks swipe under the rug and The list goes on and ON!!!

    Scandal is a GREAT show!!!!!!!!!!! I guess if a A**holes like lil wigworm(wayne) and some video H*E$ have a guess spot on this HIT show, blacks will approve!!! WELL no one is listen to you ppl ANYWAY!!!! YOUR VIEWS DON’T MATTER!! AND YOU ALREADY KNOW. ;-). ENJOY your A** on a plate, eat slow! LOL!

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch

    You didn’t read the article huh? Because Clutch is not stating that in anyway – Tom Burrell did. Please read the article :)

  • Viva Lola

    CENORSHIP!!! that is Cluth policy. Well in American we have FREEDOM of speech! This site need to be SHUT down.

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch

    Your comment was posted – and wasn’t censored.

    Also – even though your comment was posted. We do have the right to not publish a comment – especially if the person hasn’t read the article.

  • Viva Lola

    Clutch posted the article so take RESPONSIBLE!

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch

    You should really read the article. It’s actually siding with you. Thanks.

  • Ang

    First Mary J Blige (Burger King) and now Kerry Washington (Scandal)… what gives?

  • Viva Lola

    LOL!!!! the article was read! “right to not publish a comment” I am sure!! especially if the comment is true!! ppl don’t like the turth. Sounds like censorship to me!!! Clutch post what they want to post. FRAUD!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch

    This comments and your other comments show that the article WAS NOT read. I’m sorry – but we can no longer do the back and forth. Feel free to stop coming to the site – if you are not happy with our content. :)


  • ImJustSaying

    I would like to be the first to offer Viva Lola a hug ….and some grammar lessons. *HUG*

  • http://AirInDanYell.tumblr.com Erin

    I love Scandal. I love that Kerry Washington is Olivia Pope. Nonetheless, like someone mentioned in the comments section of the first article, her character does play into Black female-Hollywood stereotypes, not necessarily the ones that Burrell mentioned, but other ones that are constantly exploited in Hollywood. Strong and successful but lonely and miserable Black woman that can’t find love in a healthy situation, be it because of her attitude, because she’s someone’s mistress, or she has too many unrealistic standards (See pretty much every predominantly Black movie from the late 90′s to the mid-2000′s). Of course every character is going to have flaws, but we’ve seen this one several times in Hollywood. I do disagree that Olivia was the one that pursued the President, I don’t see how she’s the sexual deviant. It’s obvious that they have a scandalously awkward relationship, and I’m interested in how Shonda Rhimes will continue to portray it on the small screen. Yes, this does happen in the real world, but just because you love a show, doesn’t mean some things are out of the question for you to be critical of while watching them, because in real life, I’m critical of people that are married that sleep with people outside of their marriage and vice versa, so how would this be any different? Either way, I will continue to watch to see what happens as the show progresses.

    S/N: I can’t wait for Shonda Rhimes and Issa Rae to team up for, “I Hate L.A. Dudes”!

  • Q45

    I despise the term “we black people” would you people stop F’ing generalizing us all. As soon as one person does or say something you F’ing generalize us all like sheep as if none of us are individuals with a mind of our own. Speak for you dang self or be more specific that “Some African Americans” have been doing this or that but STOP IT JUST STOP IT ALREADY PLEASE ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!

  • Shirl

    What in the heck was that Viva person talking about?? He/she was mad huh? You could tell by the exclamation points…teehee

  • Mic Droppa

    You want to express freedom of speech by shutting down another form of free speech?! 0_o Yeah thats logical. NOT!

  • TexasLady

    Ignorant in every sense of the word. Smh.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    This! I swear it seems like every time you look at something critically or voice an opinion or concern different from the masses than you are over-analyzing, sensitive, making trouble or it turns into black people are x,y and z. Personally I don’t watch Scandal (over night time soaps in general) nor do I object to those who love it and support it but everything has room for constructive critisim. Yes it’s great that black women (both behind and in front of the camera) are in the forefront of this project nobody is denying that achievement. But we always complain that we aren’t monolithic so now that we have a varying opinion the other side needs to shut up…sighs this goes to shows that black viewership is so varied/diverse so the black characters we need on tv need to be varied as well.

  • Ravi

    I’m not sure if this was a response to something I said because it doesn’t seem to be addressing anything I said. I never said adultery was a phase nor did I present any biblical imagery.

    And what are you saying is normal? Was that a counter to what I said about adultery being normalized? Normalized doesn’t have much to do with the regularity of occurrence in this context. By normalize I was referring to fitting to cultural norms of acceptability. Sleeping with a man married to another woman does not fit any sort of cultural norms and is a very serious violation of the institution of marriage. It is deviant in any culture where marriage is a construct of exclusive monogamy. It would hardly be scandalous if her sleeping with the married president was fitting the cultural norms.

    Strong and independent isn’t doing what you want. small children that have underdeveloped moral reasoning have a tendency to do whatever they want. Strength is better demonstrated through not doing whatever you might want to do based on understanding the consequences of your actions. Being ruled by desires is weakness, not strength.

  • Janaé

    Black people are happy to be whores for whites.

  • NOitAll

    I think the term “We the Blacks” was meant to be sarcastic, that’s why it was capitalized.

  • Bk_betty

    I think part of the point of the show is examining what it means to be black and in (or close to) a position of power. It’s not that we can just swap Washington’s character for a white character.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    i watched the show for about 30 mins tonight. during that time i saw the black female characters depicted as sexually loose. the other female characters were in non sexual situations.

    coming from a black female producer, this leaves me confused.

  • Imani

    James, did you watch the whole episode? Because at the end, one of the white female characters was also depicted as sexually loose since she had a one night stand. And the same goes for other episodes and other characters on the show.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    no, i could not make it through the entire episode

  • Renee

    You should have watched the entire show. The thin, redhead slept with a man during last night’s episode. She was not in a relationship with him, but she knew him from his former job as District Attorney. Just an FYI!

  • Dani Allen

    I’m not exactly sure why so many people are upset. The sexual situations are no different that those that women of other ethinicities find themselves in. The show is awesome. Let’s not focus too much on the “depection” of real black women. A black woman saw an opportunity to cast a black women in the lead role of a prime time TV show and she did it. Shonda Rhimes has to operate within Hollywood, just like the rest of the black actors, producers, etc. if you want a prime time spot on a national network. Everyone can’t be Tyler or Spike or Oprah. Please give this lady credit where it’s due. She started with Grey’s and Private Practice where there were few people of color. Now that she’s found her staying power in Hollywood, she’s opening doors for more people that look like us. Can things ever be right for black people in general?

  • Beautiful Mic

    We’re extremely fragmented by blood quantum, social privileged/heritage, aesthetic socio-ecomic, cultural/social identity diversity. That’s why we don’t and can’t possible believe the same thing. We’re so heterogeneous that we might as well not even be considered a ‘race’ of people, IMO.

  • http://blackfemaleculture.wordpress.com blackfemaleculture

    You do realize that the only reason that these Black men are bitching about Scandal’s depiction of BW is because the Black woman in question – Olivia Pope – is in love with a White man, right? When they start bitching about other Black men being depicted as sexually loose/ Mandingos, then I’ll be impressed with their opinions on the subject. LOL. Oh, and what about when Black men call us bitches and whores in rap songs. When are the upstanding Black men going to complain about that? Never! That’s when.

  • chinaza

    I don’t see anything negative in the character portrayed by Kerry Washington. I just find the show boring.

  • Pseudonym

    You obviously don’t watch the show. A number of white women are shown in casual sex situations before it’s revealed for the first time that Olivia Pope and the President had a “thing.”

    Race baiting fail.

  • Pseudonym

    and, for “black female characters depicted as sexually loose,” it’s even referenced in the show a few times that Olivia Pope doesn’t even date.

    Wrong tree.

  • sHELLY

    if black people had a variety of examples of ourselves, this wouldn’t be an issue, because someone would be able to come up with a bunch of examples to counter the character in this Scandal show. Also, I’ve never seen the show, but if the Olivia character really is slutty, it doesn’t make it all better to say “well, her white co-stars play slutty characters, too!” Who cares what they’re doing. I think we need to be worried about how we’re being depicted…forget about ‘them.’

  • Perspective

    “I watch Scandal — over and over and over — because I see a positive image of a professional Black woman. Pope is a smart, respected, relied upon, fully (and wonderfully)–clad, quick-witted, shrewd, compassionate, well-connected businesswoman … who is also flawed.”

    WoW – the author doesn’t get it.

    In other words to be very clear to add to what the gentleman said.


    and all you can see is “professional Black woman” and you derive some sense of validation and sense worth from this image?


    Bottom line she’s his job off. Good enough to BANG but not good enough to WIFE, BEAR HIS CHILDREN, PROVIDE HIM WITH HEIRS TO HIS LEGACY – no the white woman he’s married to is reserved for that!

    All of the REAL presidents have had WHITE JUMPOFFs from MM to ML

    First time a black woman gets around the oval office she’s gotta be a JEZEBEL? Perhaps we would have preferred an overweight mammy black woman?

    Some of you women need to WATCH what you are actually cosigning. You can’t ignore decades of stereotypes and then suddenly think you are breaking the MOLD – not when its ALREADY YOUR STEREOTYPE.

    Let me know when the episode comes up where this white man ACTUALLY LEAVES his white wife for the black woman – YEA because we all know that the media would love nothing more than to PROMOTE THAT IMAGE.

    You know when Mississippi Masala came out – it was BANNED IN INDIA – hmmm I wonder why? Indian girl defying her parents to be with a black man, “OH WE CAN’T HAVE THAT!”

  • Perspective

    I was talking about this ‘Scandal’ issue last night with someone and they brought up a damn good point in the context of the GENDER WAR between black men and women in relationship to this show.

    He ask, “How come none of the feminist, matriarchal, women are natural born leaders, stuff” never comes up when it comes to black women dealing with white men?”

    Going back to Demetria’s “Do you hate black men” post.

    Some of the argument would immediately go to the ENVIRONMENT that black men haven’t provided for black women unlike white men for white women (Keep in mind we do live under a system of white supremacy). My question is, “If that was ever going to be REPAIRED, CORRECTED, OR FIXED – avoiding black men who have themselves together – isn’t that counter productive to creating that type of environment? – because seriously if black women are going to charge today’s young black men with the overall condition of the community and be on WHATEVER agenda that they are on which is typically some rendition of a matriarchal structure because they don’t trust nor have faith in black men, then I think we’re done. I don’t know any type of brothas who are going to sit around and take that type of abuse based on the overall condition of the community EVEN IF he’s handling his business. I think thats were a lot of sistas lose out on black men.

    I’m not here to argue about SOME black women’s fantasies to jump the fence to any group. If a woman is matriarchal – she is of no use to me, I just politely remind her that in THAT state of mind I don’t know how useful she will be to OTHER PATRIARCHIES, and also the fact that THOSE MEN ARE THE OVERALL KEEPERS OF THEIR COMMUNITY. Unlike black men, who (I feel) have uncooperative women, those men ARE passing on their legacies and wealth. They have a vested interest in KEEPING IT WHITE, or whatever. If a sista can go – GO. I’m just saying once the IR parade has died out you are still faced with the reality. Much of the same can be said about brothas who fence jump.

    Perhaps the IR PROMOTING women aren’t the matriarchal women. IDK, I think their are areas of grey. It could just be 2 different groups of black women. Through all the voices it just sounds like black women are matriarchal with black men, despise patriarchy, will quickly “Afrocentrically” identify patriarchy as WHITE and not for the black man – but when in the arms of white men suddenly patriarchy and all its glorious benefits are the bomb. Perhaps white men can give black women more of what they want, but I can’t see WHITE MEN (THE CONTROLLER – TOP MANIPULATOR) over there allowing the black women to control it like bw want to control it with black men.

    I’m not talking about simps either. Short Jewish men who are cat whipped with tall statuesque black women. We’ve all see that. She got like a foot and a half on dude.

  • Bridget

    While I do wish as a black woman that Pope would have been portrayed better than the choice of affair (not wifey material), I am still proud that she is a stronger woman. With that said, it is not meant for every black woman to be a strong, upstanding, powerful figure. Some black women, like me, enjoy being home-makers who help their husband make an honest living, but also professionals at the same time WITHOUT being a dominatrix. As for the man who commented on the IR parade…I was not on that bandwagon, but I did marry a white man. I did this because I genuinely loved him. Hard for some to believe, but sometimes we forget that we are two different races. It is not a daily topic for discussion, and we sometimes only realize it when others interfere and try to remind us of that.

    Now I know it may be hard for previous generations to understand (I am 21, so I speak of anyone who was born pre-80′s) that many of us don’t CARE what race our lovers are. Many of us only restrict our choices because family that is older seems so freaking opposed to just loving someone for them. Color is still way too important. Until the other generations either A. Get use to racial mixing or B. Are no longer around, I don’t see respect for one’s relationship happening.

    Now, with that aside, I personally do not like when other blacks criticize positive portrayals of other blacks in the major media, such as Scandal. Many white women have been the same way as Pope: the woman on the side. Like the author says, this is not the major focus of the show. It is a piece of her life. The only reason why I had reservations of this with this show is because of the stigma attached to black women as good sexual partners, but nothing more. I feel like it wasn’t time for that, not until black women attain equal representation in the media, BUT with that being said, it gives black women someone to identify with on television for other reasons, not the scandalous ones. A professional black woman can see another professional black woman on television and feel better about watching the show because there is someone like her on that screen. The fact that she isn’t living in the hood and just fighting for a dope head or drug dealer should be refreshing. ALSO, NEWS FLASH!!!! More affluent blacks, of either gender, have a substantially higher chance of mingling with, starting relationships with, and marrying and starting families with people of different races. They do not think the same way about race as blacks with less education or limited experiences. This is in part due to being in college where diversity is much more tolerated, promoted, and preached about. Professional environments are more concerned with other things. More business talk and less talking about your new nails as a fast food restaurant employee. I grew up poor, but was raised with higher values. I am a professional too, and my husband as well. Please realize this is the future, and accept that someone thought it was a good idea to make a show like this. If we embrace it, we will see more, and better shows about blacks in the same light as was once dominated by whites.

  • Bridget

    You can forget by paying attention to the content of the show, and not attributing certain qualities and assumptions to a black woman. Obviously, color is so important to you that you can’t even enjoy entertainment.

  • Bridget

    Why on earth would women want to relate to this? It is a problem for them. What is it suppose to do, comfort that woman for her bad actions? For her possibly breaking up a family and ruining a man’s life, hurting another honest woman because she was loose? Why would a woman want to relate to that??? It may happen in real life, but it is by no means something that anyone should want to watch for the sole reason that want to see another woman sleeping with someone’s husband so they can feel good about themselves…

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