One of the most intriguing characters on “Scandal” is First Lady Mellie Grant. She’s not just a WASP sent from Central Casting, or a put-upon wife of a philanderer. Mellie gave up her Yale and Harvard-bred ambitions for the full-time job of photo ops and glad-handing as the First Lady. Just like Lucy Ricardo always wanted husband Ricky to just give her one opportunity to be in a show, Mellie Grant wants to influence policy and make big moves wherever she can. At every turn, she is stopped, often angrily, by her husband the President and his apoplectic Chief Of Staff. Both men remind her, every episode it seems, that the First Lady is supposed to be pretty sidekick, not a policy wonk. In one episode, Mellie is witheringly informed her job is to be “ornamental.”
Watching Mellie Grant on “Scandal” has made me look at Michelle Obama differently for sure. It’s not hard to imagine she, too, feels a bit trapped in a golden cage. We don’t exactly know whether Michelle Obama feels like her intellect is being wasted, but we do know from Jodi Kantor’s book, The Obamas, a portrait of the Obama marriage, that Barack’s high-level staff has bristled in the past at Michelle’s involvement. But also we know that Michelle dedicated her first year as First Lady to acclimating her two children to their new home and school and has spent many years since promoting healthy eating and exercise. All this has been summed up by Michelle Cottle, a Daily Beast scribe in a piece for Politico Magazine, as a feminist failure. Keep reading »
Earlier today we learned about the charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter against 54-year-old Theodore Wafer in the death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride.
On November 2, the Michigan man shot McBride in the face through a closed and locked screen door at his home when she knocked on his front door earlier this month after getting into a car accident nearby. Wafer claims his gun went off accidentally and also that he believed she was an intruder. Prosecutors said there was no sign of a forced entry at all.
After two weeks of frustration for civil rights activists, Detroit prosecutors have finally charged Wafer. MSNBC spoke today with Renisha’s mom and dad, Monica McBride and Walter Simmons, who have stayed out of the public eye these past few weeks. Keep reading »
This week, Lily Allen debuted the video for her new song “Hard Out Here,” to extremely mixed reactions. Some, like our own Rachel, saw her song about pop music’s policing of women’s bodies and double standards about sexuality as a “feminist anthem.” Others are deeply offended by her use of mostly women of color backup dancers, arguing that satire is not an excuse for using their bodies in disrespectful ways. Keep reading »
It’s an incredible and heartbreaking story: the family of a young woman who was kidnapped last week by her abusive ex-boyfriend confronted him in a stand-off and saved her life.
Bethany Arceneaux, 29, was kidnapped on Wednesday in Louisiana, by Scott Thomas, her ex-boyfriend and father of her child. Arceneaux filed a restraining order against Thomas in June, explaining he threatened to kill her before and “put a knife to my neck countless times.” But he ignored that order — as all too many abusers do — and on Wednesday, showed up outside the daycare where she was retrieving their child. Witnesses saw Thomas force Arceneaux into his vehicle, leaving their two-year-old child alone inside her car as he drove off.
At some point, according to KATC news, Thomas allegedly called Arceneaux’s family and asked them to take care of his kids, because he was going to kill both himself and Arceneaux. Keep reading »
Update: This evening there is a rally for Renisha McBride in Dearborn, Michigan. Details at the link. [Clutch Magazine]
Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old Detroit woman, was shot and killed early Saturday morning in an incident her family says was racial profiling.
According to police, McBride’s car broke down in the neighborhood of Dearborn Heights, Michigan. She went up to a house, presumably asking for help because her cell phone battery had died. Instead, a 50-something man at the home pulled out his shotgun and killed McBride, a Black woman, on the front porch. Keep reading »
After weeks, nay, months … nay, yeaaaaars of complaints from critics, viewers and cast member about the lack of any Black female cast members on “Saturday Night Live,” the comedy show final addressed its diversity problem on last night’s episode, hosted by “Scandal”‘s Kerry Washington (the first Black woman to host the show since early 2012). In the cold open, Washington played both Michelle Obama and Oprah, requiring her to change off screen in a direct nod to cast member Kenan Thompson’s recent refusal to continue playing any Black female characters in drag. The opener cheekily made use of the show’s bounty of white male cast members, sending out six of them as a bunch of Matthew McConaugheys. It was a funny start to what was otherwise a lackluster and at times cringeworthy episode. While Washington did her best with the material, the episode underscored “SNL”‘s need not only for a more diverse cast, but a more diverse writing team as well. Never was it more painfully obvious that the writer’s room at “SNL” is stocked with thirtysomething white dudes. That pageant sketch? Lord, help me. Keep reading »
“It’s interesting how much people long to fill in the gaps when someone in the public eye doesn’t share their personal life. I understand their frustration. I like how people will post pictures of me with other women that I adore, hugging on red carpets, and say, ‘See?’ Are we so uncomfortable with love between two people of the same gender that we immediately label it as sexual? But I’ve never been bothered by the lesbian rumor. There’s nothing offensive about it, so there’s no reason to be offended.
“Scandal” star Kerry Washington is notoriously private about her personal life. She married in secret in June and has not publicly commented on the rumor, according to Us Weekly, that she is pregnant with her first child. And, she notes on the Advocate‘s blog, people are all too happy to speculate that because she isn’t showing off her man all around town, it must mean she must be a lesbian. Being a lesbian is fine, of course, but don’t people realize there’s more than one reason a celebrity might ask for privacy?
After the jump, here’s Washington on reaching African-Americans about issues facing gay couples through “Scandal,” as well as the similarities between ‘passing’ as white and being in the closet: Keep reading »
Earlier this week, Kenan Thompson from “Saturday Night Live,” spoke to TV Guide and explained why he puts on a dress and plays all the roles of Black women on the show instead of, you know, hiring one. The lack of Black women is a “tough part of the business,” Thompson said. “Like in auditions, they never seem to find ones that are ready.”
Comedienne Nyima Funk, who is a Black alum of Second City, could not agree more. So, here is she getting ready to be on “SNL.” I hope you’re watching, Lorne Michaels. [Jezebel]
Warsan Shire, 24, has just become London’s first ever Young Poet Laureate. The Kenyan-born Somali poet writes about both English and African culture, exploring war, sex, culture, love, and everything in between with a great depth and sensitivity. She expresses her worldview with an honest vulnerability that most would shy away from. Her first book of poems, Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth, was published in 2011. She has a BA in creative writing and even teaches workshops on using poetry to heal trauma – and she’s not even halfway through her 20s yet. Warsan was chosen from six young finalists, and she will now undertake a residency at the Houses of Parliament and spend the next year creating work that reflects on London. Carol Ann Duffy, London’s current poet laureate, announced Warsan as the winner as part of National Poetry Day. Her willingness to be candid and speak her truth in her work is something we could all stand to learn from. ”It is our vision for east London to be a thriving cultural district,” said chief executive Dennis Hone, “and Warsan as the first Young Poet Laureate for London will play a key part in that transformation.” Congratulations! [BBC; Well & Often; Warsan Shire]