Welcome To The Bitchery

Question about how Sally Hemings is used on TV

Ok I know I'm behind the curve on Scandal because I'm always behind the curve on TV.

I cheered out loud when Olivia compared her relationship to Fitz with the Sally Hemings had with Thomas Jefferson (using the word "relationship" loosely here, not implying that it was entirely consensual or equal at all). And then I hissed at the internet when everyone said "NO IT'S NOT!!!1!!!ONE!" Stupid internet.


I was also excited to see another reference in a recent episode of Sleepy Hollow (no video up yet, sorry) where Lt Mills and Irving school the HELL out of Ichabod for what Jefferson did and the hypocrisy of that relationship in face of his legacy. That little dig about Jefferson stealing Ichabod's quote about newspapers only made it better and I was excited to see Ichabod correcting the faux-history about Paul Revere's Midnight Ride. I love this show so much.

Sally Hemmings/Thomas Jefferson was even reference in the comments section on the recent Jez article about the Mindi Project facing the racism question with what seems to be some grace and humor.

So. My question is: is this just a coincidence? Or are we seeing a resurgence of conversations about interracial dating because of the (still small but thankfully larger than in the past) number of WOC in staring roles on TV right now?


Are there other WOC (or POC) from history that may end up becoming the next Sally Hemings reference on TV?

Do you feel good about people calling into question the power play between white men in power and WOC that they date, or are the repeated references performative or inappropriate, maybe even voyeuristic?


I'm excited to see history (real history not glossed over) discussed in 'impolite' and confrontational ways by POC on TV. But I can see this going downhill very quickly and that concerns me. Thoughts?

PS if you Google Sally Hemings right now, ~50% of the top results are about Scandal or Olivia Pope specifically.

Share This Story