Petition Demands Retraction of NY Times' Op-Ed on Shonda Rhimes - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

After widespread public outcry, critic Alessandra Stanley and some editors at The New York Times have apologized for the publication of an op-ed relating TV writer and producer, Shonda Rhimes, and her many complex Black women heroines with the stereotype of “angry Black women.”

The controversial piece stated that Rhimes’s autobiography should be called “How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman,” It further stated that in Viola Davis (lead in the new ABC series How To Get Away With Murder), Rhimes chose a performer who is older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful than Kerry Washington or Halle Berry.

The ColorofChange.org is demanding that beyond expressing remorse The New York Times needs to take substantive steps to correct the deeply flawed editing process that allowed this highly offensive piece to hit newsstands. ColorOfChange.org is an online civil rights organization representing 900,000 members.

“According to the New York Times Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, the Times has zero Black critics on staff [among 20 cultural critics]. Perhaps that explains in part why Alessandra Stanley’s tone deaf op-ed was reviewed by multiple editors before somehow receiving approval,” says Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org.” Did none of them find anything at all wrong with Stanley’s hurtful words?”

Robinson adds, “Clearly the New York Times has a problem. Culture Editor Danielle Mattoon said it herself that the paper’s editors need to ‘remind ourselves as editors of our blind spots, what we don’t know, and of how readers may react.’ Those sentiments are a step in the right direction, but we need to see action. The Times needs to make clear the measures it will take to address their diversity problem, and ensure offensive rants like Stanley’s don’t slip through the cracks by way of the ‘blind spots’ of their editors.”

Related Story: New York Times First Black Executive Editor Opens Up About Diversity in the Newsroom

Members at ColorOfChange.org have signed a petition that demands that the newspaper retract the op-ed piece. “Printing Stanley’s article was a mistake; a news outlet that bills itself as the ‘paper of record’ should be able to not only admit their mistakes, but also learn from them and take the necessary steps towards ensuring this never happens again,”  Robinson says.

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