Being Bad by Doing Good

From Left: Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, Audra McDonald. Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Compliments can be tricky. Case in point, here’s New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley’s review of the new TV show “How to Get Away With Murder”: “When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called ‘How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.’ ”

Rhimes, the producer of hit shows “Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” has a penchant for creating diverse casts without making race or gender a constant topic of conversation. In her shows, women and minorities are real, multidimensional people in normal, everyday situations.

Stanley said her intention was to praise Rhimes for pushing back on stereotypes about black women. So she used the “angry black woman” stereotype to congratulate one of the most successful television producers ever — regardless of race — for doing great work? Lady, try again.

If you want to banish stereotypes, don’t repeat them. The dictionary is full of words you can use to convey a message without resorting to the trite, boring and obvious. All black women are not angry nor do women who show emotion all need to “calm down.”

Until we stop being surprised and amazed when a woman retains her femininity and still becomes a boss, diversity and gender issues will proliferate.

Success is tough to achieve without adding diversity into the mix. Focus on what was done, not on what the person who did it looks like.

By making us look special, you make yourself look silly.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.