I’m sitting in my bedroom, doing a few assignments, and catching up on Scandal. There is this particular episode that I’ll never forget. (I just want to pause and throw this out there: I LOVE SHONDA RHIMES AND HER BRAIN. I never watched TV until Grey’s but then she killed George and I was heartbroken. Then I tried Scandal because a Black woman in charge is my dream job. Thanks for your time. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.) There’s this episode of Scandal after Olivia is in the White House and Mellie is out. Olivia is white hatting for her clients but during the middle of the episode, she is in a clinic alone, with her surgical gear on, the doctor turns on the vacuum, and Olivia grips the bed rails. That episode is one I’ll never forget. Olivia Pope, successful, ruler of her life, leader of others, influencer and alone.
That’s the reality for so many women, not the clinic part but the very last sentence of that last paragraph. Many of us are captains of our own ships. We’ve navigated through so many troubled waters but when we go home at night there is just us. There are just our eyes looking at us in the mirror. There is no one to occupy the empty space on the other side of the bed or even if there is, we’ve removed ourselves so far from that person that we feel like we have nothing or anyone else. Why? Why do we do that? Of course, I’m not talking to the women who are happy in their relationships with their significant others. I’m talking about us women are so successful in our lives but behind closed doors, we’re lacking. I’m talking about us women who are educated and intelligent but afraid of what’s real?
I’ve talked about seeing myself naked (I cringe), but I don’t mean physically (I sigh relief). I’m talking about seeing myself naked and deconstruct myself down to the atoms that make me, me. I mean this in a psychological way. As a woman and speaking from a Black woman’s perspective, it is hard to sit down and list all the things that make you who you are because that would mean digging up dirt that’s so tightly compacted it’s just easier to let it be. In the media, Black women are portrayed as Angry, Bitter, ‘Ghetto’, Loud, Obnoxious, and Devious without cause. It’s almost as if we were born with ABGLOD in our DNA. ABGLOD has become synonymous with all Black women that now it’s a standard we have to live up to.
I live in the Good Ol’ south. I’ll never forget my first few months working at my current job. Someone asked me, “How many children do you have?” I looked at her and said, “I don’t have a husband.” It amazes me still that all the Black women that walk through the doors have to be single mothers and angry. We have to be a stereotype or it throws the world off axis. However, trying to stereotype me will leave your head spinning because I’m forever changing. I’m not the loudest person in the room and if I must brag I’m probably the nicest person you’ll ever meet until crossed. I love to travel and shower sing, 80’s pop music. I love to read and if I must tell the truth, I prefer characters over people majority of the time. I enjoy engaging in meaningful dialogue and pushing people to think outside of the box. I don’t intend to change any minds but I do like seeing people think about things before placing a judgment. See I’m something close to amazing.
I had to look at myself naked alright. I had to dig deep in my psyche and retrieve memories that I had repressed and wanted to forget about but sometimes it’s just not possible if I want to move on in my life and my career. My psychological health is very fragile and has been for a while. I would joke around with my family and friends about my depression until one day in the Twitter universe I said I was depressed and some illogical idiot responded, “We Black. We don’t get depressed. Drink some Hennessy and go to bed.” As if alcoholism has ever solved a problem within the Black community. I was astonished by his bold comment. I know it is Twitter and Black Twitter has no filter, but mental health issues are real. Just because we were blessed with the all this glorious melanin does not mean that ‘crazy’ gene skipped over Africa and her descendants entirely.
As Olivia was alone in a world where she was in charge, I felt her pain as a fellow Black woman. She had to do things in secret and bear the burden alone. In the real world, Olivia probably would have a tribe she could call and they’d be there for her or she’d have someone who’d understand what she was going through, maybe Omarosa (KML I kid, I kid). Maybe Olivia sought therapy and a psychiatrist. It’s all up in the air. These are things that Shonda left us to be the judge of and for us to have conversations like this one.
That episode made Olivia less fictional; with her luxury and tailored clothes, her ice block heart, her cold approach to ‘getting things done,’ and her ‘I said what I said’ attitude. It turned her, just for those last few seconds, into a real woman for me. Watching her vulnerability, her frightened eyes, but swallowing all of that down just to walk into that room and do what she had to do. You may not agree with her decision or Shonda’s choice of writing it into the show, but you can’t deny the impact it had on you when you watched it. Now you may not have watched it the way I watched it but I encourage you to re-watch that episode, S5 Ep 9. Examine the way she hurts and her pain as she’s standing in front of the man she loves and has to be opaque so she doesn’t crush him. She has to become cold-hearted. How many people can relate to wanting to be vulnerable but can’t get the person who loves you the most to see you’re hurting?
As a Black woman, ABGLOD is NOT ingrained in my DNA, it’s birthed through the many times I’ve had to swallow my hurt and pain for the sake of others’ feelings only to be called out of my name or worse. It’s birthed every time I have to smile in the face of subtle racism when what I want to do is read those people my mind and walk out of a job that adds no value to my legacy. It’s birthed every time someone tells me to just take a drink and lay down because I’m being too dramatic. It’s birthed every time someone who says they have my back is so wrapped up in their own world and their own ego to notice that just once I need a shoulder to lay my head on and be weak.
Anger, Bitter, Ghetto, Loud, Obnoxious, and Devious. Those are just a few words that haunt the Black women in today’s society. Those are the words that cause more damage than bitch, whore, and slut. Those are the words that affect us mentally. Those are the words that bring a dark cloud over our heads and make us walk in the rain even on the sunniest of days. When we correct our oppressors (I like that word), then we become too educated or selfish. There is always a landmine for us to step on and sometimes we, women, have to look out for ourselves and those behind us. That’s a heavy load to carry gracefully. Will you help your sister carry her load? Or watch her struggle and be jealous because she’s pulling through?
Leave your comment and thoughts below. I want to hear what you have to say.