It is said that love crosses all boundaries. These boundaries can be social, class, caste, race, gender, economic, religious and more. Our lived experiences and social placements have categorized us into random slots – falling into place based on societal dictation. There has been socially unequal, romantic, lustful and love relationships since the beginning of time; from Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Samson and Delilah; Sally Heming and Thomas Jefferson; to Mr. and Mrs. Loving; socially unequally, and oftentimes socially unacceptable, relationships have existed. Yet, it appears that none have caught the attention of so many, and particularly African American men and woman, as the new T.V. buzz series, “Scandal”. But, some Black men ain’t “feelin” Scandal.
Shonda Rhimes, creator of the series weaves a powerful cast of characters in this dramatic, cunning and diabolic at times, 1-hour show. So here’s the plot and you tell me what’s wrong, or right, with this picture. The main character, or should I say the main two characters, are that of the President of the United States of America, President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) and the White House Communications Director, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). These two power player commands their staff and those left in their charge like Patton commended the army during World War II; at times spitting nails through his teeth in order to get difficult and almost impossible tasks done and personalities to work in rather harmonious syncopation.
Well, I am reaching with the harmonious syncopation; let’s just say work and not kill each other in the process. Nonetheless, the main relationship that series focuses on is that President Fritz and Liv. The two have found and formed an almost inseparable groove with one another. That groove not only reserved to the oval office, but also on regular occasions, reserved for the oval bed. Yes, the bed. And I mean to tell you the bed is burning with hot sex, frolic and play. Not only in the bedroom but also in the oval office on the desk. You got it… a hot steamy, all out ravishing making out scene that I am sure had the networks’ gatekeepers worried. Yet, beyond the intense sexuality of their relationship, there are intimate moments, a friendship and a love relationship that makes this union standout from just a roll in the hay and some off shadow office romance.
This union is different in so that the two star point characters are interracial. Okay, you say? We got a Black President and probably a White woman that once again is looking for the big Black Stallion to slew her and ravish her with his thick hard muscle of manhood. Right? Wrong! This union, the “Scandal”, involves a White man and a Black woman. You got it! The relationship situation is build around to power-players, supporting each other in the bedroom and in the boardroom per se. And as a Black woman, and contrary to popular belief, fallacy and myth, this White man is satisfying the hell out of this Black woman both in intimacy and within the professional realm. She wants him and he wants her. She craves him and in one scene he does care if secret eyes are watching as he unexpectedly takes her in the oval office on top of the desk. He had to have it! This Black woman is the President’s “go to” person for advice and all publicized appearances. She is his professional confidant and he trust her in her position to be that decision maker that she very well has earned the position to be. No, don’t get it twisted; she didn’t “sleep” her way to the top. The “nookie” is the lagniappe… and a damn good lagniappe from the onscreen chemistry that “nookie” is the “comeback type”. However, all is not well as this drama unfolds. On the screen, the president is very married and his wife is very pregnant and totally enjoys her position and attention as first lady. Oh yes, first lady is not as stupid as she pretends to be. She has a small inkling of something between the President and Liv, but nothing to shake her away from her perch of first lady. Yet, this interracial relationship is froth with its’ complexity – onscreen and off.
As I sat with a room-full of Black women (and one Black man), some mixed-racially but none-the-less identifying as Black, at a “Scandal Premier party”, I cheered the close moments of intimacy shared between the two main characters, cheered when Liv climb in bed to snuggle with her lover. I thought, “damn girl, you playing that side-bitch so well!” I use the word “bitch” as a compliment in this reference. She is that “bad bitch” that has it going on at the job and with “Thee Boss”. In addition she is that “bad-side-bitch” because she got more than just his sexual manhood, but she has stolen his heart. With every moment of interaction and defense that was shown between the two, the volume of cheers in the room boomed like the roar of a crowd at the super bowl game, in the superdome. During the days to follow, I was still excited about “Scandal”. When I spoke with Black females the response was usually the same . . . “girl; did you see so and so? “What do you think will happen next?” “That Liv is something else, girl!” For Black men that choose to respond to my inquiry, the reflection was somewhat starkly different. Most detested the fact that Black women would play the role of a “side-bitch” on T.V. and enjoy it the role. With social dynamics of racism and sexism and the imbrue of slavery in the Americas, it appears that Black women has been ascribed to a rather martyr-like and beatified status – too oppressed, too selfless, too saintly, too emotional and emotionless, too angry Black woman, too dramatic over insignificant matters and things, and just too simple to be complex.
In the eyes of some Black men, the notion that Black women embody a host of complex and divergent thinking, along with a multitude of actions to back them up, along with the complexity of crossing racial lines to do their will is unheard of. The complexity is contingent; neither negative nor positive, yet based in the situation. Moreover, the complexity brings to light a human form in the embodiment of the Black woman. Yes, Black women are human; neither Goddesses nor Gods; just Black women with a history here in the Americas. As I observed the reactions of my African-American brothers I was held in suspense of what some of their monolithical thinking; there is an emotionless box and robotic box that functions as the heroine of our communities and households, matriarch of our families and power-hungry divas in the workplace; again, without conscious, emotions or virile substance or complexity. Oh, if it was all that simple! You see, the reason why we (Black women) love this “Scandal” is not necessary that Liv is living a wholesome and socially irrefutable life. No, I would say to contrary, but what “Scandal” does show is that we can choose to love beyond what history and society prescribed for us and that Black women can be romanticize and worshiped by all men regardless of race. That’s right, we can make White men shout as well. What “Scandal” also shows us, told from the beautiful mind of writer Shonda Rhimes is that Black women are complex, human and all women. Her womanhood, yet guarded by some as regal, is about all woman; with full breath and depth, making good choices and like all humans, making bad choices; sometimes Saint, Savior, and Sinner- yet at the end of the day, choosing humanity with all its’ rote complexities. So Black men, do not feel slighted that the show “Scandal” shows this forbidden relationship. It has little to do with you and a lot to do with Black women. The Black woman is a mighty icon that you have reserved in your psyche as untouchable in spite of her lived experiences of past trauma through slavery, racism and sexism. Look at it this way, that in spite of these negative social strongholds, in spite of them, Black woman choose the will to exercise her humanity; flaws and the goodness of it all; loving and giving her love to whom she so chooses.
Editor in Chief, myCultural Conversations, Host & Producer myCultural Conversations BlogTalk Radio