According to a recent article, (link here), there is an “interracial dating revolution” going on and we owe it all the Olivia Pope, the character on the justifyingly-popular television program “Scandal,” about a brilliant, beautiful young black woman who advises political power-brokers on how to save their asses week after week.
The character of Olivia Pope is portrayed by Kerry Washington, who is at turns more intelligent and perceptive than anyone else on Planet Earth, and also beguiled by The President of the United States of America (portrayed by uber-connected Tony Goldwyn, the son of a major movie studio mogul).
The chemistry isn’t (in my opinion) sizzling hot, but it’s there, and for television, it’s believable enough and absolutely shocking to see a popular, well-written TV program featuring a black woman as the star who is not a stereotype – in fact, far from it.
The article says that the program itself is stirring an interracial dating revolution (which we hope is true). It goes on to say that (what a surprise) Star Jones (of all people) called the character of Olivia Pope “a whore,” who should be dating black men. Many other black women feel the same way: white men should leave them alone, do not and could not ever find them attractive, are “too different” or too culturally different, it’s just not right, on and on. Meanwhile black men with white woman has become such a part of American culture that we see it in magazines at every check out line (just open “Black Enterprise” or “Jet” to any page or look at the ads on TV on any given night). Interesting.
But the show’s popularity has done great positive things; such as increase the dialogue, garnered attention to the topic on a national scale, and increased the number of similar TV programming with “Deception” starring Meagan Good as a police detective under cover and the upcoming Angela Basset series.
It’s gotten to the point where “The Root” is comparing “Deception” to “Scandal,” and attempting to critically judge which television program portrays a more accurate (meaning agreeable to them) depiction of realistic race relations in America.
Of course, that’s a silly argument to make in the first place, comparing a fictional TV show to real life when most bipeds with a functional cerebral cortex have enough sense to know TV doesn’t accurately mirror reality.
And yet TV does influence reality. Look at what the success of “Scandal” has already done. It’s pissed people off, encouraged others, created TV copycat shows where none existed if its ilk before.
Neither “Scandal” nor “Deception” come close to portraying reality (at least not my reality), but they hit the bulls eye when it comes to inspiring and giving little black girls something new to see on the cathode tube mind-duller than big-mouth Star Jones preening for attention (while she provides nothing of substance) or the demeaning black characters (like “The Help”) typically seen on network TV fare. At least now little black girls, if they see Olivia Pope on TV at all, will see a woman who doesn’t back down, is incredibly resourceful, attractive, dating whomever she wants (as opposed to being steered by society into the acceptable norm of either being single or dating someone who is more socially acceptable), has a good job, dresses professionally, is articulate and literate, and (very) well-connected.
Hooray for some interracial dating on TV between black women and white men, but I’d say that the exposure of these two TV shows pales (pun intended) to the exposure of black men with white women in print and TV ads (which I would suggest vastly outnumbers the hours of these two shows airing).
Ultimately any interracial dating and diversity on national television is a positive change in perceptions, especially when said characters, however fictional, are not stereotypes. What’s your take?
English: Kerry Washington at Metropolitan Opera’s 2010-11 Season Opening Night – “Das Rheingold” (Photo credit: Wikipedia). Yes, ma’am.
Tony Goldwyn in Denver in August 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia). Tony Goldwyn looking startled.
I was looking through racist headlines and articles recently online and noticed alot (meaning more than two to three) pieces on “hypocrisy” of black women daring to be with a white man on “Scandal.”
Black women, the article stated, hate infidelity so much more than other women do because they are so bombarded with it; from the lack of eligible black men, to acceptable black men refusing to date them, to the way a black woman is depicted on the program “Scandal.”
Of course, it’s like the old saying Clint Eastwood muttered in one of his old spaghetti w
Kerry Washington at Hollywood Life Magazine’s 7th Annual Breakthrough Awards (Photo credit: Wikipedia). Kerry Washington is the star of “Scandal” and “Django Unchained.”
estern films, that sometimes you “just can’t win for losin.'”
In other words, damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
“Scandal” as most adults are aware, is a fictitious television program about a beautiful, intelligent, very articulate black woman played by Kerry Washington, who is having an ongoing affair with the President (who is white). In essence, it’s a soap opera about an interracial love affair, and the program has other ongoing plots.
But of course, the blogs about the hypocrisy of infidelity would not exist if Olivia Pope, the star of the “Scandal” program were a white woman. There’d be nothing to write about. Just another night time soap opera about an ongoing affair. Add a black woman to the mix who can speak and think quickly and is in love with a white man who isn’t a degrading stereotype (although philandering Presidents is a degrading stereotype-just a less common one on network TV) or a buffoon and now it doesn’t matter what she does or how she does it. It aint’ working. It’s a soap opera about an interracial love affair. Get over your self-importance and enjoy the smokin’ interracial love scenes where President Fitzgerald slams Olivia up against the wall or tells the white First Lady that he prefers the love of a black woman. Uh-oh!
“Deception” is pretty similar in tone, although only the pilot has aired thus far to date. It’s about an attractive black woman who is very articulate, fast thinking, and involved in some kind of convoluted murder conspiracy involving a rich family like the Carringtons. But wait! There’s a filthy-rich white man who loves her! Does the white man know he ain’t supposed to be down with the sista? Guess not! And does the sista know society does not approve of interracial relationships? Guess not because she’s really diggin’ his cologne, if you catch my silly drift here.
So you have the two ground-breaking TV programs, at least one of which is great and seems reasonably popular. Then you have what I call a media blitz in marketing of advertisements in which black men are with white women. It’s in almost every issue of Jet, Black Enterprise, and in every check out line at every grocery store and related magazine and on virtually every other TV show.
English: Kerry Washington at Metropolitan Opera’s 2010-11 Season Opening Night – “Das Rheingold” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Other than these two TV programs stated above, there is no other black women with non-black men in the media at all. Yet the number of black men with white women is in, like I said, virtually every magazine ad on the planet. As you know, we’re for interracial dating and diversity…but are we off in this media commercial buying campaign? And what do you think of “Scandal” and “Deception?” Is it the start of a trend or reflective of something else?
Let us know your thoughts.
What I Learned From White Men
By Stephanie Chick
In corporate America, white men have always held powerful positions of authority. From first-level managers to GMs, from senior VPs to C-Suite executives, you’ll find white men wielding power and influence.
As a black woman, it would be easy for me to feel contempt for white men and be envious of their status and success. But I don’t — not even a little bit.
Early in my career, I realized that I could have one of two perspectives: view white men as the “enemy” or accept that whether by privilege or perseverance, they know how to succeed and maybe they have something to teach me. I chose the latter and as a result white men have been some of my greatest mentors and sponsors, and a few of them have become close friends. And over the years, I’ve learned lots of lessons from them.
The first lesson took place when I was a junior in college and worked as an intern at IBM. My manager at the time, a white man named Burt Spurrier, was very demanding, mostly encouraging and a little hovering. But he gave me the opportunity to work with senior managers and sales representatives in the office, which gave me great exposure and helped me to hone my skills.
I thrived on new challenges and experiences but I was still learning how to navigate office politics. One day a senior sales rep was a bit prickly and demanding on a project I was working on with him and it made me feel uncomfortable and lose confidence so I started to tear up.
Burt was hovering nearby and quickly pulled me aside and said, “You don’t cry here. You’re going to be challenged, you’re going to get your feelings hurt, but if you have to cry, you need to go to the bathroom or better yet, pack up your desk and go home.” Then he walked away and left me standing there all alone.
I hurried to the bathroom and sat in a stall and cried for a few minutes and then I dried my tears and went back to find the prickly sales rep to finish the project because it was due before I left at 3pm.
The first lesson I learned from white men was to develop a thick skin.
I learned another important life lesson from a white man named Todd Cromwell, my favorite manager when I worked at H-P. When Todd showed up to replace my former manager, he looked so young that many employees were dismissive of him. He had this piercing Steve Jobs-like stare that scared the bejeezus out of me but something told me not to write him off so quickly.
Shortly after taking the job, Todd had individual conversations with all the members of our team to size everyone up. A few weeks later he asked to meet with me again and to my surprise, he offered me a promotion. I couldn’t believe that in a single conversation he saw that much potential in me and felt I could handle the challenge.
Up to that point, I thought you had to pay your dues and fight for growth opportunities. I’d always expected that I would move up one day, but I thought it would be years down the road. In fact, I almost refused the promotion because I, like many women I’ve spoken to over the years, felt a little bit guilty that Todd had chosen me.
I had only been with H-P for eight months and certainly there were other people far more qualified. I nervously accepted the position and a few months in, I found my sea legs and excelled in the position. And since that experience, I’ve never ever shied away from accepting big opportunities. When Todd offered me the job he was telling me that he believed in me and knew what I was capable of doing. I was the one who felt doubtful and undeserving.
A second lesson I learned from white men is to always feel worthy.
The third white man who taught me an important lesson was Marshall Goldsmith, my mentor after I left corporate America. During our first phone conversation, we talked about our backgrounds and where I was trying to go in my career. Then I started asking way too many questions and challenging his many insights and he abruptly said, “Shut up.” I was shocked and upset and was tempted to overreact, but then I thought, “He has riled me so there must be something here that I don’t get.”
What I didn’t get was that Marshall simply wanted to give to me. I didn’t need to show him how smart I was or earn his mentorship. I just needed to accept his generous gift. He didn’t expect anything back from me in return and that was the lesson that I needed to learn.
The third lesson that I learned from white men was how to receive.
Throughout my career, white men have taught me many other things. To never have a false sense of security. To see failure as opportunity. And that sometimes you have to use “bravado and balls” to get people to take you seriously.
The truth is white men have challenged, guided, and strengthened me. It hasn’t always been easy to work with them, but I can’t deny the positive impact they’ve had on my professional development and for that I’m deeply grateful.
White men are cool with me and when I’m around them I don’t feel intimidated or resentful. Instead, I feel powerful and in control. That’s because one of the most important lessons I learned from white men is how to be their equal.
About the Author:
Stephanie Chick is the visionary creator of Deliver the Package®, a breakthrough coaching model that teaches you how to unleash your personal genius in the workplace and beyond. Stephanie is an inspiring and results-focused professional coach. She is passionate about helping employees unleash their genius inside and outside corporate America.
Stephanie’s coaching insights have been featured in major publications such as BusinessWeek, Essence, Black Enterprise, Harvard Business Online and Diversity, Inc. Stephanie is the author of Deliver the Package: Simple truths to help you set your genius free. The book shares simple yet significant truths to help employees unleash their genius–at work and in life.
To learn more, visit her website, Deliver the Package.com