'Scandal,' Black Women and the Super-Black Mammy-Jezebel

Writing at the Shadow League, Megan Livingston explains why she sees Olivia Pope as a game changer and an everywoman. 

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Kerry Washington as Scandal's Olivia Pope (ABC)

Writing at the Shadow League, Megan Livingston explains why Olivia Pope is a game changer and an everywoman.

I do not nor did I ever, care who the mole was, at least not much. I was even a little fuzzy on why it mattered, in part because the act of watching Shonda Rhimes' newest creation, marathon-style, does inspire the onset of a nasty case of plot-twist overload dizziness. But the truth is, pretty much all I want is to see Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III, in all his WASP regalia as the fictional 44th President of the United States, grab Olivia Pope's butt. You know, because it's a black butt. And it's on TV. And at the same time, and for the same reasons, that last thing I ever want to see is him grab her butt; in fact, I place my crisscrossed fingers over my eyes so that I do not see it, because I am an American.

More than a black or African American – and not at all a white American nor any other in between – I am an American, which means that it is equal parts familiar and foreign to conceptualize a black woman whose power and influence over a white man (in this case the white man of the free world) are matched only by her sexual prowess, her I-will-drop-kick­-your-ass-ness, and the illustrious contents of her closet. As Tony Goldwyn, who plays Fitzgerald Grant, the adulterous, murderous, yet somehow still lovable President recently remarked, "She can rock a pair of white gloves, can't she?" Well, of course she can. That's why we spent all those seasons of ANTM letting another beautiful, brown-skinned businesswoman convince us that we did not know how to properly pronounce or use the word "fierce," and that she would be the one to lead us out of that darkness.

Read Megan Livingston's entire article at the Shadow League.

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