When Diversity Goes Wrong: Hair Products for Black Actors on Grey's Anatomy

Meet "Luther" - son of Christina Yang and Owen Hunt

    [Grey's Anatomy's next child star, "Luther" - child of Christina Yang and Owen Hunt.]


I was late jumping onto the "Grey's Anatomy" bandwagon but once I got into it, I was hooked.

I loved the soliloquy-like monologues.

"I need you. I need you because I am broken...broken...broken...and no one else can fix me."

I loved the painful-to-watch, yet entertaining, self-sabotaging behavior of the characters.

I loved how EVERY procedure was life-threatening and how even a patient with only a broken arm could need experimental cardiothoracic surgery before the hour was over.

Thursday nights were the beginning of the weekend for me. My husband and I would anticipate sitting on our couch, under our blanket, with a four wing dinner, seeing the glorious drama unfold at Seattle Grace Hospital.

For a time, Grey's Anatomy was the absolute hands-down, best show on television and it pains me to say that now... it sucks major (camel-sized) balls.

I've kept these thoughts buried deep down within me for a while because the show's creator, Shonda Rhimes, is a Black woman. And if it's one thing that black folks love to do, we love to support Blacks who've made it and are rich.

But last week...or maybe it was two weeks ago, I realized why my irritation and dissatisfaction have been steadily growing over the past two seasons when the episode ended with Derek and Meredith getting their adopted, slave-hairstyle wearing, Black daughter back from social services.

It's not that I have a problem with White people adopting Blacks kids. In fact, I wish every White, Black, Latino, Asian, and Caucablacasion person in the U.S would go find them a little Haitian or Ethiopian baby to take care of.

My problem is that Shonda, or the people who have taken her place as writers of Grey's Anatomy (and Private Practice) have made two fatal errors:

1.) They time and time again showcase Black people who have no apparent knowledge of a brush, hair gel, flat iron, or Luster's pink hair lotion.

2.) In an apparent attempt to appear diverse, provocative, or relevant they create forced and unrealistic story lines that in turn, are less entertaining and more annoying.

You know I'm not lying.

If fact, I know I'm not lying because I paid more than a moment's attention to the race of the girl (and her hair).

As in life, when an idea or a concept or relationship comes from a genuine place, race and most other physical attributes become secondary in importance.

Remember Christina and Burke?

Yeah, she's Chinese and he was Black but those details were secondary to the dynamics of their relationship. (Although, it can't go without
mention that I hated Isaiah Washington's hair line too.  I’m very happy that he found a better barber after the show.)

Remember Kim Kardashian and Reggie Bush?

Yeah, she's basically White and he's Black, but those details were secondary because people were more irritated with the fact that two young, rich, and obnoxiously beautiful people could find love together.

So my point is that whenever I notice race, more times than not, it's because something has ran amuck.

Of all the little babies out there, why did Derek and Meredith want a black baby girl whose hair they wouldn't comb?

Had I missed the season when Derek did Doctors Beyond Borders in the Congo?

Did the doctors from Seattle Grace, during their off season, volunteer their time in New Orleans after Katrina, thus, spurring this desire
to adopt a little Afro-American baby?

The answers are no and no.

This brings me full circle to what happens when television writers try too hard to instigate thought around topics such as race or sexuality.

It’s called, ‘trying too hard.”

For the love of God I just want to tell them to stay in their lane.

Don't try to make a point.

Don't try to get me to become a vegan, or be more patriotic, or against the death penalty.

Just give me some good old fashioned entertainment, Shonda, like you did in the good ole' days...

And if you bring another black child on there without putting a brush, some water and grease to their head then I'm going to start looking at you sideways.

Notes: This post was inspired by the most dedicated "Grey's Anatomy" fan that I know, J. McLeod, who at this time is riding an ATV in
the sand dunes of Dubai. Wishing you well in your efforts to find and marry a rich Arab prince.

Picture credits:  Courtesy of and




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    Kay S

    Kay Smith is a Chicago-based freelance writer and blogger who focuses on race, politics and urban culture. Having worked on public policy at the state, regional, city and community level, her opinions have been featured in the Chicago SunTimes and a host of news websites (under very mysterious sounding pseudonyms). Follow her on Twitter @kaywillsmith or contact her at

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