Viral Video of 'Grey's Anatomy' Star Shows How White Women Can Be Allies for Women of Color
Shonda Rhimes, creator, head writer and executive producer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” shared a video of the star of her show, Ellen Pompeo, talking about how white people need to be advocates for diversity. It’s gone viral with more than 2 million views.
“As Caucasian people, it’s our job, it’s our task, it’s our responsibility to make sure we speak up in every single room we walk into. It’s our job because we created the problem,” Pompeo says in the video, during a photo shoot for Porter magazine.
Pompeo called out the lack of diversity in the magazine crew, and in Hollywood, without mincing words.
“This day has been incredible, and there’s a ton of women in the room,” she said. “But, I don’t see enough color. And I didn’t see enough color when I walked in the room today.”
Actress Gabrielle Union is seen in the video giving a look of approval.
DiversityInc COO Carolynn Johnson said that both white women and women of color have a responsibility to each other to say there needs to be equality across the board.
“We need diversity of all walks represented,” said Johnson, who in October launched DiversityInc’s annual Women of Color and Their Allies event.
She said that people of color have a responsibility to talk about what’s wrong and how it can be improved.
“We need to communicate,” she said.
And for allies, “their responsibility is to recognize where there is no diversity and be bold enough to say something about it.”
Johnson offered the example of Christopher J. Nassetta, CEO of Hilton (No. 10 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list). She said he was in one of his executive board meetings and looked around and said there wasn’t enough women in this room.
So he did something about it.
“He was present enough in the moment to look around and see what was missing not what he was comfortable with,” Johnson said.
For white women who choose to be allies, “It’s also your responsibility to know these stories and share them,” she said.
Allies should also ask questions like: Why aren’t there people of color on the set, as interviewers and production staff, scholarship recipients or in executive boardrooms
Allies should hold decision makers accountable for age, class, ethnicity, ability, and gender diversity. And Johnson said, allies need to be helpful in the solution piece.
“We have countless examples of people who are doing this work who are present in their everyday interactions,” Johnson said.
She called attention to the fact that sometimes leaders don’t hear what they need to from the vantage point of the people who need support, but from the vantage point of others in similar positions.
Reader Question: Do you think those who don’t have Ellen Pompeo’s position in Hollywood would speak up the way she did