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The New York Times Apologizes For The Insulting Article That Called Shonda Rhimes An 'Angry Black Woman!'

| Filed under: TV News

shonda rhimes

Well, it's about time.

In case you hadn't heard, The New York Times ran an article written by critic Alessandra Stanley about TV producer Shonda Rhimes that referenced her as "an angry black woman," and also claimed that Viola Davis was "less classically beautiful" than lighter skinned actresses.

Yes, this happened in 2014, and yes it is completely unacceptable.

In response to all this, the newspaper's public editor, Margaret Sullivan, posted an article about the backlash, which featured an apology:

"The article on the television producer Shonda Rhimes hadn't yet appeared in Sunday's paper, but the virtual world was ablaze in protest over it on Friday after it was published online…There are some big questions here – about diversity, about editing procedures and about how The Times deals with stories about women and race. They are worth exploring in depth.

This is a preliminary post, and I'll be adding to it later today, or posting again. But I'll say this much: The readers and commentators are correct to protest this story. Intended to be in praise of Ms. Rhimes, it delivered that message in a condescending way that was – at best – astonishingly tone-deaf and out of touch."

In addition, Margaret spoke to the culture editor, Danielle Mattoon, who had her own apology to offer:

"There was never any intent to offend anyone and I deeply regret that it did. Alessandra used a rhetorical device to begin her essay, and because the piece was so largely positive, we as editors weren't sensitive enough to the language being used."

Meanwhile the author of the incendiary piece, Alessandra, gave her own thoughts on the article she wrote, and the stereotype she so insensitively used:

"In the review, I referenced a painful and insidious stereotype solely in order to praise Ms. Rhimes and her shows for traveling so far from it. If making that connection between the two offended people, I feel bad about that. But I think that a full reading allows for a different takeaway than the loudest critics took.

The same applies to your question about 'less than classically beautiful.' Viola Davis said it about herself in the NYT magazine, more bluntly. I commended Ms. Rhimes for casting an actress who doesn't conform to television's narrow standards of beauty; I have said the same thing about Helen Mirren in 'Prime Suspect.'

I didn't think Times readers would take the opening sentence literally because I so often write arch, provocative ledes that are then undercut or mitigated by the paragraphs that follow…

Regrettably, this stereotype is still too incendiary to raise even in arguing that Ms. Rhimes had killed it once and for all."

Was this apology enough? We really hope The New York Times takes extra steps in the future to make sure that offense articles like this never happen again. They're just not fit to print.

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13 comments to “The New York Times Apologizes For The Insulting Article That Called Shonda Rhimes An 'Angry Black Woman!'”

  1. Kiwi73 says – reply to this


    Is she mad because they called her black (because she kind of is) or is she mad because they called her angry (because she is now, because they called her black?)?

  2. Patient says – reply to this


    This is not an apology by Alessandra Stanely she merely defended her use of the Angry Blck Wmn Lable

  3. lovely says – reply to this


    Alessandra Stanley OWES Shonda Rhimes a true apology. Alessandra admitted to knowing the lable was harmful and yet used it Shame on Alessandra Stanley, give a true spology and stop defending use of slur

  4. LivingWaters says – reply to this


    The Label Angry Black Woman is RACIST & Evil. The label is unfounded and wrong to use at all. Everyon expresses frustration yet no label is placed on them just the Black females. Racist.

  5. kelley says – reply to this


    Oh jeez. Ellen Pompeo and Sandra Oh (a white and an asian actress) are the "angry black women" on that overly dramatic show.

  6. 6

    What is going on here. Just stop with the black crap already. This is getting out of hand again. So would she have to apologize if she called a white woman an angry white woman? Enough is enough.

  7. 7

    I have seen her on talk shows. She is an angry black fat woman and she is a bitch.

  8. jimmyd says – reply to this


    no need for a retraction, she is a nasty fat black bastard,dark or light skin she isn't classically beautiful,ugly inside and out

  9. sc says – reply to this


    Re: goldenyearsgal – Oh darlin' go back to fucking your cuzin Fred and living out your last days in your inbred little Flarda backwater. This is clearly a little too complikatud for you.

  10. Esin Emko says – reply to this


    Who is Shonda Rhimes?
    Way past her 15 minutes…

  11. fid says – reply to this


    Perhaps people should learn how to read fully rather than reading snippets and then getting irrationally mad about it. Read the whole article to gain context! People read things and then go on and on as if they know something, when they don't understand the complete picture.

  12. Lynn says – reply to this


    Re: Kiwi73 – she's upset because she used "angry black woman" as a whole. black women are always stereotyped as being angry, and that is offensive. anyone can be angry. not just black women.

  13. Lynn says – reply to this


    Re: goldenyearsgal – you sound ignorant ma'am. I think you should pick up a book on black history, stereotypes, and racism, read it, then try another hand at your comment. because it's CLEARLY not about being black, it's about the stereotype that Stanley associated Rhimes with. you're probably white, so I won't explain it to you because you won't get it. there's no way you can.