ABWW: Christina Hawthorne, RN
When I was a small child every woman I knew was a nurse. At the age of five, I thought that all nurses were black or Filipino! That is part of the reason I am delighted Hawthorne is back for a second season. Jada Pinkett Smith stars in the second dramatic program in television history to feature an African American woman (the first was Showtime’s Soul food) as a main character. As the wife of one of the most powerful actors in Hollywood and the mother of the star of the surprise hit of the summer, Ms. Pinkett Smith is probably the only black women with the juice to get this show on the air and create a complex, interesting character that doesn’t fall into the typical debased black woman stereotype. Besides being a supernurse, Christina is a widow with a teenage daughter, which is a miracle in itself. White writers usually are usually too lazy to create black characters with a family and social life, so most African American characters on television are who are not criminals end up as asexual helpers whose only purpose is to make the white protagonist look good.
At the beginning of this season Christina takes a job at a hood hospital after the previous institution she worked in closed down. This move has given the show a more diverse cast including Vanessa Bell Calloway as a 17 year nursing veteran and all around angry black woman. In a lesser hands, Calloway’s character would stay that way, but in the first episode we see her as a war weary nursing veteran who is tired of administrators who promise change only to leave when they get a better job. How often do you get to see two black women having a dialogue on TV? It also helps that Sara Gilbert (Roseanne) is cast as a surly, incompetent nurse. This season it looks like Christina may be ready for love with Dr. Tom Wakefield. It has taken over 40 years for TV to slowly come out of it’s white centered narcissism and produce about another show about educated, widowed black woman with a normally functioning child. I am sure that Diahann Carroll (Julia, 1968) is grinning form ear to ear. A dramatic show about a confident, competent black women is a controversial premise and it is a miracle that the show is on for a second season, lets try to make sure it has many more.