This week, Ellen Pompeo speaks on her admiration and advocacy for people of color and life being the wife and mother of a Black man and children.

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This week, Ellen Pompeo speaks on her admiration and advocacy for people of color and life being the wife and mother of a Black man and children.

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Air Date 12/10/2018
Introduced This Episode
Herself Ellen Pompeo

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Understanding Where Ellen Comes From: Ellen

Ellen Pompeo was raised in an Italian-Irish neighborhood in Boston. An area which she says was peak racism. Even her dad, seemingly attempting to fit in with the area, tried to adapt his thoughts. Problem is, with losing her mom at 4, this created an immense sense of compassion within Ellen. So with hearing all these terrible and racist things growing up, it brought on a curiosity. Perhaps the need to question why these people are supposedly so horrible?

Well, she found out they weren’t and this led to her having many, regular, every day, Black friends. Some of which she’d invite over to their pool and would coerce her dad to see that what the neighborhood says doesn’t match the people who live in it. Leading to him eventually, when it comes to Chris Ivery, Ellen’s husband, realizing the whole neighborhood was on some other s***.

The Joys & Pains of Being an Advocate: Ellen, Jada, Gammy

With growing up in the neighborhood she did, marrying a Black man who came from a disadvantaged background, single-parent home, grew up in the projects, Ellen is familiar with both sides. She knows and understands what it means to have privileged as well as an understanding of what it means to have to fight for every scrap, opportunity, and still feel like you just barely able to make ends meet. With that in mind, she has become a very passionate advocate.

How? Well, by not being afraid. Ellen makes it clear that she has a love for Black people and culture beyond her husband and children. Also, she recognizes she has a platform which, even if it doesn’t get something to happen, like the ending of a KKK series by A&E, it starts a conversation. Perhaps even amplifies a conversation.

Yet, what comes with that is many questioning her intentions and her disruption of the status quo. Meaning, she is getting it from both sides. Take, with the aforementioned A&E thing, her using Black or Brown emojis to celebrate A&E stopping the production – she got in trouble for that and brought up the idea of reverse racism. Why? Oh, because she got called a white b**** over it. Thus causing another stir.

This presents the problem which comes from being an advocate for a community you are not part of. The need to question what is your place, what can be said or done, and whether people will take note of your intention based on previous actions or not. Also, as a white woman, the worry of you repeating history and hijacking a movement. It’s a difficult line to walk and one which constantly challenges you to learn how you can help without silencing those who would rather you assist them so that they can help themselves.

White & Black Reconciliation: Jada, Willow, Gammy, Ellen

Being that Ellen says she isn’t afraid, Jada doesn’t have to worry about her feelings, they have a real honest talk. The kind that couldn’t be had on “The Racial Divide” episode since Jane Elliot was there to educate and Annie, well was unprepared and a little defensive. Ellen was at the red table for conversation and ready. Leading to a handful of gems and some things said in “The Racial Divide” episode repeated. Well, mostly the idea that you have to step out of your comfort zone when it comes to your circle and pursue other perspectives outside your own. Otherwise, being so closed off will limit your experience and the experience of so many others.

For example, Ellen’s child has a Black friend who was confused when Ellen said she was her child’s mom – since Ellen is “Faded Black” as Jane Elliot says. Instead, the child thought Ellen’s nanny, who is Black was her child’s mom. This created a bit of confusion but in Ellen explaining things, it also created a lesson that the child can carry with her through life. Be it by understanding bi-racial children may not look like their mothers or dads, if not an appreciation that parents don’t have to look like their kids. You know, in terms of maybe a kid being adopted, or what have you.

But, you can’t address reconciliation between Black and white women and not mention the angry Black woman stereotype. Something Willow has experienced just by being passionate. For with her experience in the industry, even with her parents there, and taking note of the #MeToo movement, she brings up the need to be careful and gets a bit worked up. After all, she doesn’t want anything to happen to her friends. However, this passion is mistaken for anger and it is frustrating.

Yet, in bringing up the #MeToo movement, Ellen brings up one of the many beautiful things that is part of Black culture – speaking for those who can’t, or don’t know how, to speak for themselves. Willow warning her friends, trying to protect them, is advocating for them. The way Black music and entertainers are, they advocate for their people, their people’s talent and humanity, and speak for them in ways many of Ellen’s peers won’t.

And, ultimately, it is agreed that real conversations, even if there is some fear involved, need to be had for there to be a true reconciliation between women, the different ethnicities, genders, and cultures, and the human race in general.


The Conversation

It’s hard to not compare and contrast Annie to Ellen. Taking note Annie was seemingly uncomfortable with the whole being on camera thing, it kind of showed up one side to the difficulty in just starting a conversation. The problem of isolating or making your circle a monolith and trying to make it seem it’s not because of you but others that things are as they are.

Yet, then you got Ellen who is ready to engage, understand, shows you a life that can be an example, and even note the challenges which come with it. She basically lives as Jane Elliott wishes more faded Black folk would. The only issue is, as Ellen notes, there is this fear in losing something. How? Well, by empowering others there seems to be, per Ellen, this idea you lose out on your piece of the pie. That is, rather than by helping others make their own pie, they have less of a need to even worry about yours.

Low Point

This Show Really Needs To Be More Than A Half Hour

To put it simply, Ellen presents a lot of interesting points and thoughts that feel like they shouldn’t be contained into a half-hour format. Like “The Racial Divide” episode, just as things have found a good rhythm at the table, suddenly they are over and you are left a bit frustrated. For while we’ve seen this topic brought up before, the way Red Table Talk is presents and addresses it in a way which seems different.

With this show, we are not presented a TED Talk or a lecture series. There isn’t this air of Jada trying to be a journalist, remain unbiased, and let whoever she interviews talk without sometimes being questioned. We’re shown a real conversation which doesn’t get too messy, have any “GOTCHA!” moments, but does address things which can be uncomfortable for the person visiting the table.

All of which can’t be done, sufficiently, in a half hour and shouldn’t end on that bowl segment.

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