Just My Two Cents: Scandal As A Racial Project
I am a HUGE Scandal fan for many reasons. It shows a black woman in power, who is open with her sexuality, and not inclined to “play by the rules”. The one problem I do have with Scandal is that it seems to espouse a color-blind ideology that only serves to further the notion that racism is dead. Other than an off-hand mention to the president that he could not indeed divorce his wife and start dating his black mistress because of what his constituents would think, the issue of race rarely comes up. The show deals with themes that I believe are highly racialized, and yet race is not at the forefront. While I understand the reasons behind this, I still take issue with it.
Michael Omi and Howard Winant explores the meaning of racial projects in Racial Formation Theory. Basically, a racial project are policies started at the macro-level that influence our interactions at the micro-level. One example of a racial project is the discourse surrounding Affirmative Action and the opposition to it as being “reverse racism”. Another racial project has been identified as color-blind ideology, which influences the discourse we hear today of a “post-racial” America. This ideology deems that everyone is the same and thusly ignores the lasting impacts and continuation of racism in the United States.
Viewing Scandal as a racial project may seem far fetched at first, but there are several occurences in Scandal that I believe reify the prevalence of the way we think about race, specifically the way we view Black women. Black women have a long history in society of being labeled. From being insatiable jezebels to “mammies” with no sexuality. Every week I see an article about how black women are just.not.getting.married. Scandal fits right in with this rhetoric. Kerry Washington has fallen for a white man who will not leave his wife, with whom she has sex with in the most peculiar of places. She is strong and independent, you know, your typical successful black woman. Not only does she not have a family life, she doesn’t want one. She wont get married and will be okay with a long running affair because as a succeful black woman, she must choose. She is rarely vulnerable, just like an independent black woman should be. Her character is one dimensional, much like the way society views the everyday black woman.
Like I said…a little far fetched, but I hope ya’ll are understanding what Im saying. And really, Im just picking on Scandal because there are several shows out that hide behind the same myth of a post-racial America. Like I stated before, I am an avid Scandal watcher and believe it has done a lot for the way we view Black female leads on the small screen. With that being said, I also think its important to always keep a critical eye on the world we live in and how stereotypes are perpetuated through the media. Because if we don’t watch out for ourselves, who will?
Just my two cents.