An Open Letter To Columbus Short: Do Better

Dear Mr. Columbus Short,

I’m sure you’re kicking yourself in the head after being fired from Scandal. I’m sure you can hardly stand to look at yourself in the mirror, knowing that you messed up one of the greatest opportunities in a life time. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that you let down millions of fans who were rooting for your victory.

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you any of this … but I will anyway.

As an avid fan of Scandal, I’m devastated that you shot yourself in the foot. Scandal is, by far, one of the best shows on TV right now. The content is crisp. The story lines are salacious. The talent is superb. And you were a significant part in what may go down as one of the greatest shows in history.

Scandal took us all by surprise. A sleeper hit, I’d hazard a guess that the top dogs at ABC didn’t foresee such a captivating show ever being headed by a Black female lead. And now, three seasons later, Scandal has amassed an army of gladiators; an army that you, in part, helped rally. From the very first episode, when you melodically explained to a round-eyed Quinn Perkins, who Olivia Pope was, and what she and her team did, we gravitated to an auspicious display of wit, ferocity, and cleverness. We sat huddled in living rooms, staring relentlessly, holding our breath, as we awaited a showcase of political savvy and sexual tension.

Scandal gave us something fresh; a break from the repetitive reality television we’ve come to know.

And here you go … messing it all up.

Photo Cred: Giphy

Photo Cred: Giphy

I knew you were up to no good when you got into that bar fight awhile back. Granted, I read no articles nor did I follow the story, because it’s not really my thing. Celebrity gossip doesn’t do it for me. But, I had an inkling that you were headed for trouble. Part of me wrote off that incident; I figured “Hey, celebs get into bar fights all the time. NBD,” but the other part of me was like “Oh, he’s getting reckless. He’s feeling himself; he stars in a hit TV show, and he thinks he can bend the rules a little bit.” I hoped and prayed that was your last scandal (pun kinda intended). But no, you disappointed me.

Your next bout was much more serious. Homicide? Suicide? Drunkenness? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!?! I can’t begin to fathom why any part of you thought that playing some twisted truth-or-dare/russian-roulette with your wife was okay. There are so many reasons why it’s totally NOT okay to be a homicidal-suicidal maniac. Especially for you, Mr. Short.

First off, domestic violence, in any capacity, is not cool. It’s sickening and depraved, especially when women are victims. As women, we already have a whole bunch of bullshit to deal with. The last thing we need to worry about is being physically or emotionally harmed by our loved ones.

Secondly, you have an image to uphold. Harrison Wright would NEVER harm any woman. Secretly, I think Harrison is a feminist; he has no issues following female authority, and he is quick to come to the defense of the female members on his team. Harrison is loyal, dedicated, and reasonable. Harrison Wright would NEVER put his wife in a chokehold. But now, this perception of Harrison is damaged. All because of you. You can never convincingly play Harrison Wright because, in the back of our minds, we’re visualizing the horrible look on your face while you were abusing your wife. Thanks, bro.

Thirdly, you’re a Black man. That means you don’t get to go around being Charlie Sheen. While the world finds Sheen’s brand of women-beating comical, the world will now look at you as another dangerous Black man who can’t handle fame. It’s not fair that, as a Black man, you’re a representation of the entire race. Trust me, I empathize with the injustice that comes with Black scrutiny. But this is the reality we find ourselves in. For you, it’s even more annoying and unfair because you’re a celebrity. You’re in the spotlight, and thus, must withstand even more scrutiny.

This is the burden of Black skin. I get it. But, we must continue to fight for recognition as individuals. We can’t feed into the ill-conceived prejudices of the ignorant. And that’s exactly what you did.

And that’s what devastates me most. As a Black actor, you made it. I don’t need to tell you how few roles there are for Black men, or how the roles that are mostly available are negative; drug dealers, rappers, gangsters, and criminals. And there you were, alongside Kerry Washington, tacitly reversing decades (if not centuries) of misconceptions about Black people … all while dressed in a sharp suit.

And the fact that you even got such a coveted role without an extensive resume, was impressive. Mainstream (read: white) audiences had no clue who you were. Black audiences knew you from Stomp the Yard. That’s it.

Mr. Short, you must do better. Call Shonda and plead for your job back. Do some community service. Get some counseling. Stop drinking. Stop turning up. Control yourself. Recognize your privilege.

It’s not that difficult. You’re a gladiator. You can do anything.


A Black Millennial Who’s Furious With You


4 responses to “An Open Letter To Columbus Short: Do Better

  1. I was exceedingly disappointed to learn that the non violent Gandhi smacked his wife despite his mission when I encountered the facts years ago, and here was a true leader and not just an actor. Well done on your charge against domestic violence.


      • I agree. And I appreciate you offering Mr. Short some ways of getting appropriate help as well as directing him to a better self where he has body control and self respect. I hope he listens to you and accepts in humility what you have made clear.


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