I think I can help with the Shonda Rhimes vs New York Times dustup over a story that meant to praise her but ended up marginalizing her. Sometimes, as we have all experienced, it’s both what you say and how you say it.
I’ll let others debate skin color and incendiary headlines. I want at the concept that being an angry black woman is a bad thing, rather than a perfectly natural thing.
First off, can’t we stipulate that any black woman who isn’t angry hasn’t been paying attention? Just having the Ray Rice’s of the world to contend with would be enough, but there is plenty of other history to justify a full head of steam, which we can also agree upon.
But I have news for the easily offended reader – all women are angry. And we have reasons. Every time we scurry to our doors in fear of attack by the creepy guy at the corner, we feel it. When a friend is being bullied and controlled by a partner, or a girl (or boy of course) is interfered with (as they used to say), we are angry women. I happen to be an angry white woman, but how are we not in this together?
The thing is, we are not only angry. We are also in turns, happy, proud, vulnerable, accomplished, striving, inspiring. Maybe we should go ahead and get proud and comfortable with our anger for once and let it work for us. Men have been making the most of their anger for millennia what with their wars and plundering and all. Maybe we can do a little better with ours, moving the whole project closer to justice and safety.
Shonda, you put good angry words in the mouths of your characters just fine, so you can show us the way. That way we get to write our own headlines.
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