Sister Space

The scandal surrounding ‘Scandal’

By Laila Muhammad | Last updated: Jun 3, 2013 - 2:58:35 PM

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“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” ~Mark Twain

On social media one recent Thursday night, I as was astonished as I began to read posts and updates. I have over 3.500 Facebook friends, and as I scrolled through post after post, I read status messages that provided quotes from a TV show. I scrolled further down, more posts on the same thing. I was highly offended. My entire page was filled with posts, not updating me or friends and families on personal lives, the latest book read, funny jokes, pictures of meals just made, or children’s’ accomplishments. An overwhelming majority of the posts were about T.V., and one show in particular, “Scandal.”

What are we doing? What are we watching? If you are between the ages of 18-49 according to, chances are you’re tuned in to “Scandal,” which is projected to become the most-watched television series ever.

Not only are we watching it, we are tweeting about it. In recent weeks, “Scandal was listed as having the most social series with 571,353 tweets, which is its highest number this season. This is up +83% from the prior week, and Scandal has now delivered over 4.3 million tweets this season making it ABC’s most social program. Scandal outperformed the ‘American Idol’ Finale by +56% (366,061 tweets),” ABC reported in May.

According to TV Guide, more than 8 million viewers tune in Thursday nights for this pseudo soap opera centered on Olivia Pope (actress Kerry Washington), a high-powered crisis manager and Black mistress to the White president of the United States.

What’s the problem; it’s only sex, lies, intrigue, infidelity, corruption and murder right?

The old adage says, “We are what we eat,” doesn’t it stand true that we are what we think and what we think about? Don’t what we watch and listen to impact our thoughts? Don’t our thoughts impact our actions?

Media is a powerful tool and subtle, almost subliminal, messages are sent over the airways. Who is controlling our media? Who is promoting infidelity, lying, and deceit? In particular, are we being told all Black women will amount to, or should even strive for, is to be well-dressed bed wenches for powerful White men?

The powers behind White Supremacy are still trying to sell us this hypocritical trick of integration, and are using the trappings of power and sick definitions of love to make it fair seeming. The misuse of Black women and misportrayal of Black women as sexual beasts aren’t new.

In the Richmond, Va., Recorder in 1802, James Thomson Callendar first began to publicly assert Thomas Jefferson, a founding father of the United States, kept one of his slaves as his “concubine” and fathered children with her. “The name of SALLY will walk down to posterity alongside of Mr. Jefferson’s own name,” Callendar wrote in one of his articles on that scandal. Sally Hemings (1773-1835) was a slave at Jefferson’s Monticello plantation and was used for sex by the American president, according to a DNA analysis in 1998. Jefferson apologists and his descendents had often tried to reject that reality. But the official Monticello plantation website concedes, “Based on documentary, scientific, statistical, and oral history evidence, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and most historians believe that, years after his wife’s death, Thomas Jefferson was the father of the six children of Sally Hemings mentioned in Jefferson’s records.” Hemings was also never freed.

I don’t see much difference between a girl used as a bed wench yesterday and an accomplished Black woman portrayed as a willing bed wench today. Despite attempts to color reality and this scandal as a love story, Sally Hemings was Jefferson’s property. She couldn’t consent to sex and some historians believe was between 12 and 14 when Jefferson’s rapes, yes rapes, were initiated. She was 14 when she went to France with her master. By age 16, she was pregnant at Monticello. The harsh reality of the sexual abuse and hyper-sexualization of Black women can’t be explained away, glossed over or romanticized simply because a Black writer’s work reflects White male and, perhaps some Negro female, fantasies under the name Olivia Pope. Her role is one that doesn’t disturb White sentimentalities, threaten stereotypes about Black women or challenge White Supremacy. In the end, whether in the Situation Room, a broom closet or the backseat of a car, Olivia is a servant and protector of her slavemaster.

It is not only the role that matters but also the fact that Blacks spend the most time watching TV among all racial groups in America.

While average TV time watching television is a little over 5 hours a day, Blacks spend 7 hours a day watching television, according to the Nielsen company. That means Blacks will spend much more than the average of literally watching 9 years of television in their lifetimes, which Nielsen reports is the U.S. lifetime average.

We are primed for dangerous programming and have already been taught to hate ourselves, our women, our men, our children and love the children of our former slavemasters.

Have you ever considered that when you tune in to TV, what example are you setting for your family? If we as women are supposed to be the cornerstone of the Nation, what type of nation will we produce when we feed our minds filth? When television consumes so much of our lives, and it’s not beneficial programming, we should reconsider how much and what we actually watch.

After 15 minutes on Facebook during Scandal night, I had enough of reading foolishness. And I felt my I.Q. had dropped a few points (smile) so I gracefully logged out, unplugged my computer and picked up a book.

(Laila Muhammad is a Final Call production assistant, writer and videographer.)