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Shonda Rhimes and the “Angry Black Woman” Stereotype

Shonda Rhimes

New York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley has a long history of being wrong about a great many things. But her newest article, an ostensible paean to Shonda Rhimes, is inaccurate, tone-deaf, muddled, and racist. "Wrought in Their Creator’s Image: Viola Davis Plays Shonda Rhimes’s Latest Tough Heroine" is a mess. Let's take a look.

"When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman."

Why in the world would it be called that? Are there specific instances of Shonda Rhimes seeming particularly angry? Many of us follow her on Twitter, where she does not seem angry — except maybe about this atrocious article. What is the maximum amount of anger Black women are allowed to demonstrate before they get stuck with that label? More angry than everyone else? What is it that qualifies Shonda Rhimes as an angry Black woman and not just … a Black woman? Do we use any kind of coded, dismissive language when talking about, oh, Aaron Sorkin or John Wells or J.J. Abrams? Ha, ha, ha, ha, of course we don't. Also, she's not "getting away with it" because no matter what she does, she's still going to be slapped with the racist label "angry Black woman" by the New York Times.

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