Jan 31st, 2018, 06:19 PM

Black Excellence Month: Shonda Rhimes

By Khadija Sanusi
Image Credits: Flickr/gholamreza bordbar
The Iron Lady of television is changing the world one TGIT at a time.

As "Black History Month" begins, it is important to also highlight black excellence. For decades, Shonda Rhimes has created, written and produced some of the Best ABC shows of all time. She has invented powerful black female characters who have become role models to many viewers and has addressed sensitive African-American issues, such as police brutality. The storyteller has written books including "Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person" and "Year of YES Journal". She was also invited by TED to give a talk "My Year of Saying Yes to Everything."

Powerful black characters:
 

The Nazi:

"Grey's Anatomy" fans got introduced to Miranda Bailey in the very first episode of the show, which was premiered on March 27, 2005. When the new interns got assigned to "The Nazi" as their supervisor, they expected a man. But Shonda wasn't done with the plot twists. Played by Chandra Wilson, the current Chief of Surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital has succeeded in every aspect of her life. In her personal life, she had the courage to choose to be a single mother instead of staying in a marriage of ultimatums with a husband asking her to choose between him or her patients. Professionally, she has saved many lives, (including a racist's), as well as her colleagues; she delivered Meredith Grey's baby during a superstorm, removed a bullet from Alex Karev's body, treated Izzie Stevens' cancer, took care of Richard Webber's post-ops and helped Christina Yang handle her Ectopic pregnancy. Her most successful surgery was a 12-person "domino" surgery, involving six simultaneous kidney transplants. When in season 12, Bailey was asked to present her candidacy for the chieftaincy, she recited her speech as she operated on a patient, announcing in the O.R,

"I was made for this job. This job was made for me."

The Gladiator (of all the Gladiators):

"The Good Wife" and "Suits" are two shows about Lawyers. Just to be clear, "Scandal" is not. Olivia Pope, as Marie Claire describes her is a, "White House staffer-turned-fixer" who, "runs a crisis management company." She has "fixed" rigged elections and sex tape scandals along with President Fitzgerald Grant's miscellaneous extra-curricular activities. Kerry Washington's character refers to her team of fixers as Gladiators in Suits (not lawyers) and knows her worth,

"I' am very good at what I do. I am better than anyone else. And that is not arrogance. That is a fact."

Anna Mae (Annalise Keating):

Speaking of law, Annalise Keating was the lawyer you didn't know you needed. As a law professor, she did everything she could for her students and clients, even if it meant lying to stick to a story. Notwithstanding her representation of "the most hardened criminals—people who've committed everything from fraud to arson to murder," ABC describes her as, "Everything you hope your Criminal Law professor will be." Before she accepted the part in the hit show "How To Get Away With Murder", talented actress Viola Davis told the producers, "I'm not gonna do this unless I can take my wig off." In an episode entitled "Let's Get to Scooping", the actress came home, cleaned off her make-up and took off her wig and eyelash extensions before going to bed.

Police brutality
 

In 2015, Huffington Post reviewed the then-latest episode of Scandal, which was called "The Lawn Chair." In it, Brandon Parker—an unarmed teenager—was shot by the police who claimed that the boy was in possession of a knife. Olivia Pope not only joined the protest against injustice, but she also involved David Rosen, the Attorney General, in the case, proved that the knife was not his and helped put the police officer behind bars. At the end of the episode, she took the boy's father to the White House and he cried in the arms of the leader of the free world.

Three years later and we are still dealing with the same social issues. Shonda Rhimes took to Grey's Anatomy to raise awareness. When a young, black teenage boy was brought to the hospital with a bullet wound in "Personal Jesus". Trauma surgeon April Kepner just could not understand how this could happen in "an upper-class neighborhood." Jackson Avery, the hospital's Head of Plastic surgery, shared a personal story of policemen drawing guns and yelling at him, slamming him into the car and handcuffing him.

Although he later confronted a police officer about it, the most heart-breaking scene of the episode was when Miranda Bailey and her husband Ben Warren gave a talk to their son. They told him to follow the policeman's instructions, move slowly and ended with, 

"Everything we're saying to you, we're saying because we want you to come home again and grow up into anything you want to be."

There you go. There is your Woman Crush Wednesday.