Tonight, I watched Scandal, one of my favorite shows ever. I appreciate Shonda Rimes and company’s ability to put together a damn good story line every time. Tonight was no exception, but it was much harder for me to watch.
Within the first seconds of the episode airing, my heart fluttered and sank at the same time. I remembered that two weeks ago, when I saw the preview for this episode, I was debating whether or not I should watch it. I knew I’d feel the way that I feel now. But I got sucked in by the good writing. Dammit, Shondaland!
This episode was about a father looking for justice after his 17-year-old son is shot to death by a cop. Hearing this man detail his mission to keep his child safe his entire life, teaching him all the right things, nurturing his inquisitive spirit, hoping that his child would at least make it to 18 and go to college, where he finally has a chance at a better life was all too familiar. It echoes the sentiment that many Black people across the country feel and have felt for centuries in America.
Oftentimes,we spend so much time working, scratching and fighting for the best for our families, and hoping that they can at least make it far enough to hope for something great to happen. To think, all 17 years this man spent loving, struggling, worrying, shielding his son from danger, and he passes away just short of that 18-year milestone because of preconceived notions based on deep-seated racial stereotypes.
Racism is a tough subject for me. It’s one of the things that brings me the most anxiety in life. Add the threat of state-sanctioned violence to it and it becomes an entirely different beast.
I try to avoid images like the ones shown in this episode, because the reality of it hurts so much, and not thinking of it helps makes it possible for me to leave the house. What’s worse, I feel powerless to do anything about it. People smarter and braver than me have been fighting for our rights for centuries. Yet, here we are, reflecting on the realities of racism in this country through current events and the television programs that reflect it.
People talk about supposed “Black-on-Black” crimes as a reason why anyone can take a swing at killing Black people. Supposedly, we shouldn’t be outraged by the murder of civilians at the hands of the only people with a license to not only get away with murder, but get praised for it. As if white people don’t kill each other. I guess it’s different for them under some strange cosmic order.
The violent bi-products of racism that exist and have existed since my ancestors were kidnapped and brought to this country is a threat to my very existence. It’s a threat to the well-being and existence of my family, my friends, people that live near and around me, and it’s beyond troubling.
It keeps me up at night.
It makes me not want to leave the house.
It makes me not want to have children, because I would have to worry every day like the father in this episode did.
It terrifies me every time my fiance leaves the house, wondering if this will actually be the time (after the other dozens of times he’s been randomly stopped and questioned) that something will take a turn for the worst.
It makes me not want to have hopes and dreams, at the risk of having to fight harder for them just for them to be taken anyway.
It makes me tired from having to constantly explain and defend my experience to those who have never been through it.
While Scandal highlights secret atrocities happening right under the nose of the American public, nothing is worse than reality.
The fact that this country was built on the blood, sweat, tears and souls of colored people who are still treated like sub-humans is a scandal.
In a country that, for centuries, conditioned everyone that is a non-white male to hate themselves can even begin to paint a mirage of the contrary is a scandal.
The fact that powerful American entities have taken and continues to siphon wealth and opportunities away from people of color, and then blame these same people for fighting and scraping to survive is a scandal.
And for anyone to suggest that these very victims of institutionalized racism are the sole cause of their complicated and traumatizing situation is a scandal.
At least it should be. But to many, it’s not. It’s a thing to pretend isn’t a thing.
It’s absurd that this country waves its flags and goes so hard to find terrorists, but I am terrorized. Colored people are terrorized. Poor people are terrorized. Women are terrorized. LGBT people are terrorized. Anyone that could possibly be considered an “other” is constantly terrorized, not because they’ve done anything wrong, but because they attempt to exercise the human rights that some believe they weren’t meant to have.
That this isn’t considered urgently problematic makes life much stranger and more unbelievable than any fiction I could ever watch on the small screen.