Friday, March 22, 2013

Why Presume?

Spring break week has been a wonderful opportunity for me to get caught up on some much needed rest, this campaign has been exciting and exhausting.

It has also given me an opportunity to read and watch the actual night of one of my favorite shows and not try to catch it on Hulu.

Last night, after being out putting up yard signs, spending time with teachers and voters, I settled in for Scandal on ABC, one of my guilty pleasures.

There was a scene when the crisis team of Abby and Olivia Pope had to come to a couple's home to do damage control.

The wife, a CEO, in her presumption of privilege fast-walks across the room, commanding the presence, with her hand extended "glad you could come, you must be Olivia Pope," toward Abby, the white, red-haired, employee of the black, dark-haired boss.

Why, in 2013, are we, well educated black women still presumed to be incompetent and our secretaries presumed to be our superior?

Are we a threat to some social order that always had black women at the bottom?

Is it jealousy because of what the sneaking-around slave masters did or the open-affair of the placage? Is it because the white women could see the "mulatto," the "quadroon," the "octoroon," the "one-drop," the scenes like Alex Haley's Queen?  Why?

We are portrayed in the media, even recently in the Webster-Kirkwood Times   review of the school board election, as being angry or slutty, mammy-ish or whore-ish, never are we ever just well educated, well spoken, well prepared black women who have a lot to contribute.

It, the slight in the writing of Shonda Rhimes, the black woman who wrote and conceived Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal, was not lost on those of us who have more melanin in our hue and female parts on our anatomy.

Facebook was a buzz about it, even the brothers chimed in, "did ya'll catch that?"

We, I, have faced it with white female students who are trying to get one of the three degrees I already have, who felt their gender and their skin color gave them the privilege to openly challenge me in class and when they were thwarted, to run to the white, female, department chair to launch a complaint.

We, I, have faced it with a white secretary storming into my office to "put me in my place" because she just felt like exerting some level of authority as our program rented the space, I was the director and manager of a teaching staff, counseling staff, volunteer staff, and caretaker of close to 100 children.  Yet, her skin color gave her the "right" to come in unannounced and uninvited to yell.

We, I, have faced it with undereducated white female bosses who were intimidated by our record of success and advanced degree.  Her privilege and connections within the company enabled her to cuss like a sailor in the office and destroy the careers of many associates who were younger and more educated than she was.

It is something we encounter in our workplaces, in the libraries, in trying to be published, in academia, in every element of our life.

Why presume?

Why assume?

Shonda Rhimes has been brilliant in her writing and her ability to created real characters and not caricatures. The lives of all her black doctors and lawyers have been full and rich, compelling drama, appealing to a multi-racial audience.  Her writing has given her an opportunity to address, ever-so-slightly, the subtle racisms we face every day.

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