Shonda Rhimes’s Scandal Takes on Michael Brown

Scandal, Michael Brown, Ferguson, and the Justice System

On the March 5, 2015 episode of "Scandal," they tackle Michael Brown, Ferguson, and why Black Lives Matter.

As a non-Scandal viewer, but a believer that Black Lives Matter, I decided to watch last night’s episode touched upon Ferguson and the Michael Brown shooting. All across my social media channels, the show was being hailed as “must-see-TV” for Black families, and I wanted to see this moment for myself. I applaud Shonda Rhimes for using her platform to address the following seven issues faced in Black America.

7 Take-aways From Scandal’s Ferguson Episode

1.) A degree or your clothes won’t save you from racism.

Although the young boy’s father put a college bumper sticker on his truck so that people (police officers) would know his son was not just another “thug,” that sticker did not save his life. I often encounter people in the Black community who feel that their social status somehow grants them immunity from racial profiling. It does not. You’re still just another “nigger” to a racist.

2.) The sense of entitlement to obedience and respect that some law enforcement officers have is disturbing.

The scene with the killer cop at the police department sent chills up my spine.  He sounded like an old slave master disciplining his “property” as he shouted red-faced and with spit flying everywhere about “those people” being “animals” who don’t respect his authority. Sadly, this scene accurately displayed the God complex that some have and the belief that others are required to bow down to them as if they are the Second Coming.

3.) It doesn’t make them a mob, it makes them American.

The Constitution gives us the right to assemble. Unfortunately, when it comes to people of color, our coming together is often seen as a threat and given a negative label. One group comes together and it’s a meeting or a club. Another group comes together and it’s a gang. Just more of the not so subtle prejudice that continues to permeate American society.

4.) The scene with the shooting and the span to the Capitol in the background was unnerving.

Little more than a mile away from this supposed symbol of freedom, you had a young man gunned down because he did not “obey” law enforcement. The contrast between freedom for some and bondage for others was handled well.

5.) Equally unnerving was that electing a vice-president was more important than addressing civil unrest.

Despite any legal accuracy of the scene with the Attorney General refusing to come and help diffuse the situation may have been, it still did a great job of showing one of the problems with the American justice system. Following the rules when it is convenient for your purposes seems to be the fundamental mindset of many in political power. The fact that politicking tends to matter more than human life is the legacy of our country.

6.) Any movement by a Black man confronted by an officer may cost him his life.

The 6 o’clock news tells this story.

7.) We need to find a way to teach our Black boys about how to interact with law enforcement so as not to lose their life.

It is imperative that we teach our children how to interact in a safe way with law enforcement. This is the sad reality in which we live. Nevertheless, law enforcement needs to be better trained or vetted regarding how to treat citizens. I know it is wishful thinking, but it needs to happen. Law enforcement officers need to be held responsible for their reckless and racist behavior. However, as parents, we should have frank discussions with our children about the nature of inequality in this country. We cannot put on blinders and assume because of our social class that discrimination which leads to death would not possibly touch our children. This is why I talked to my nine-year-old about Michael Brown and Eric Garner and took him to see the PG-13 rated “Selma.”

At the end of the day, I give Shonda Rhimes an A+ for feeling this was an important issue to tackle on a national level. Though, the episode did not convert me into a fan, and I do not foresee watching the show again, it is nice to see Ms. Rhimes using her position of power to further social consciousness.

What did you think about the March 5, 2015 episode of Scandal? What were your key take-aways?

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