Well guys, it’s been a political week. President Obama was inaugurated and sworn in for the second and now he’s working to define his legacy.
And while this is very big news, it’s certainly not the only ground breaking political news involving African Americans and the White House these days.
Because every Thursday night there’s at least one other politically-savvy African American who pretty much runs the White House and the President from her infamous damage-control firm in DC.
Yes, I’m talking about Attorney Olivia Pope, the complex Scandal-queen herself, played by Kerry Washington on ABC’s hit show Scandal. It’s safe to say that black folks have not been this excited about Thursday night since Cosby.
And though it’s the fictional world of TV, there are certain realities about the politics surrounding this show that should be discussed.
For one, as most of you know, African Americans run this show in just about every aspect.
It’s based on and co-executive produced by real-life, damage-control specialist Judy Smith, a former member of the Bush White House who represented Monica Lewinsky and Michael Vick.
Written and created by another brilliant sister, Shonda Rhimes, it’s the highest-rated drama among African-Americans, and Kerry Washington is the first black female lead in a network drama in almost 40 years.
Wow, comets return faster than that.
The NY times ran a piece pondering if Washington’s lead role represents a “new era of post-racial television where cast members are ethnically diverse but are not defined by their race or ethnicity.”
Hmm…post-racial TV, huh? Only took us 40 years to get another black female dramatic lead and now we’re post-racial?
In any event, it does raise some interesting questions regarding the type of roles and characters we should embrace in the 21st century.
Must they be good or moral characters like those on Cosby, especially given the media’s ongoing negative stereotyping of black life on screen? Or should they be more complex, both good and bad, more like Washington’s Olivia Pope?
Tell us if you want your 21st century black characters to be all good like Cosby or more complex like Olivia Pope and why.
I’ll leave you with this from Dr. Brittney Cooper, assistant professor of women’s studies at Rutgers University, on the unique character of Olivia Pope.
“She’s the most complex black female lead we’ve ever seen in prime time. You’re not getting an archetype, you’re not getting a stereotype, you’re getting a fully-fledged human being.”