Does Ellen Pompeo Not Understand Her Racial Privilege?

Why her exchange with Denzel Washington was problematic

Maia Niguel Hoskin, Ph.D.
ZORA
Published in
5 min readOct 1, 2021

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Well, well, well. It looks like another Hollywood actress got caught with her pants down. Or, maybe she proudly pulled her pants down but got more than what she bargained for. Over the last few days, Ellen Pompeo has been trending on Twitter after sharing a story about an intense argument she had with Denzel Washington when he directed an episode of Grey’s Anatomy in 2015. But before we get into this, let’s get a few things straight. Pompeo sharing that the two bumped heads was not what spread like wildfire and set Twitter ablaze. Her description of the f-bombs that she directed toward Washington was. In all fairness, Pompeo shared the encounter light-heartedly as though it were a fond — or, at the very least — a funny memory in her acting career. But Washington’s fans — and myself — found her re-enactment anything but funny or fond. Some celebrities even weighed in. As I said, what Pompeo probably thought would be a quick trip down memory lane ended in her experiencing three days (and counting) of social media purgatory and being accused of disrespecting Washington. But the real question is why she felt the need to share the story, and if she were working with Tim Burton, would she have been so quick to pop off? What gives?

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Maia Niguel Hoskin, Ph.D.
ZORA
Editor for

@zora Guest Editor, Professor, Forbes Contributor, Race Scholar, Activist, Therapist, Keynote Speaker, Consultant, Wife, Mother, & Addict of Ice Cream &Cheese.