#SPRINA: GH Opens Familiar Wounds for Viewers, Fails A Community With Tone-Deaf, Color-Blind Storyline

#SPRINA: GH Opens Familiar Wounds for Viewers, Fails A Community With Tone-Deaf, Color-Blind Storyline

#SPRINA: GH Opens Familiar Wounds for Viewers, Fails A Community With Tone-Deaf, Color-Blind Storyline

General Hospital fans hoped last week would be the payoff off of sorts to the slow-building romance between Spencer Cassidine (Nicholas Chavez) and Trina Robinson (Sydney Mikayla). By mid-week, it became apparent that Trina would have more obstacles before that day would come.

However, viewers were shocked to see Trina, the only character of color in the storyline, become the victim of a cruel crime by her romantic rival, Esme (Avery Kristen Pohl). Some have argued the story intended to entertain; however, for viewers of various backgrounds, the story’s execution was offensively tone-deaf. For some, this is a continuation of the soap opera’s failure to value the diverse audience it is quick to exploit when it deems necessary.

The optics of the drugging of a young woman, the only person of color among her peers, would be unsettling for most people. For members of the Black community, the scenario is triggering, and for a good reason. While Trina appears to come out of the situation unscathed, the scenes mirrored two recent cases where Black women have died due to alcohol and drug combinations. Both issues have had local police heavily scrutinized for their handling of the cases. In both cases, evidence suggests the deaths were at least partially due to the direct impact of white acquaintances present in the hours leading up to their end. In both scenarios, this evidence was ignored.

A party ends in a tragedy for the only Black woman in attendance

One case discussed in the media that has roiled the Black community has been playing out for the last three years. In 2018, Tamala Horsford was the only Black attendee of an adult sleepover party. The events of the hours that followed are unclear.

What is certain is that the mother of six was found face down in the party host’s backyard. A medical examiner had ruled it an accidental death caused by the mixture of alcohol and prescription medication Xanax. Family members and local activists criticized the investigation- something local law enforcement ignored initially.

600,000 people signed a petition for a second investigation before one was opened

Failure to preserve the crime scene by officers and possible evidence tampering raised further questions about the conduct of the all-white police department investigating the case. Various activist organizations, including Black Lives Matter, began circulating a petition that eventually gained 600,000 signatures. Only at this point, with increased pressure, did the Georgia Bureau of Investigation order another investigation into her death. The reopening of the case shined a light on how local police handled the case.

The county where Tamala died has a history of removing Black citizens

The GBI investigation revealed racist misconduct by one of the detectives in the case, including racial slurs in Snapchat messages obtained by the agency. Rolling Stone magazine uncovered through its investigation that confirmed the likelihood Xanax was provided to the deceased by another guest at the party. Toxicology reports showed that Tamala had traces of the prescription medication that contributed to her death. However, the GBI sided with the original conclusion, and no one was held responsible for the tragedy. Nor had any formal statement rebuking the police for any procedural failure in the investigation process.

Tamala was the mother of six children and resided in Forsyth County, Georgia, with a particularly dark past of violence against people of color. In 1912, mobs of white citizens burned Black churches and businesses, eventually driving out 1,100 Black citizens from the county.

Recent events prove this is not just a Southern problem

This is not a Southern problem either. My hometown of Bridgeport, Connecticut is racially diverse- more so than any other city in the state. Just last month another young Black woman died due to drugs and alcohol- with questions surrounding the circumstances. City officials are already admitting failures by the police handling of the case.

Lauren Smith-Fields, 23, died in her apartment on December 12 after a date with a man she had met on the popular dating app Bumble. There was no active effort to contact the next of kin, with the family learning of the death from the young woman’s landlord. More than a month would pass before the investigation into her death was opened.

Lauren’s case has drawn the attention of rappers Cardi B. and Bia

According to the medical examiner, Lauren died of “acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl, promethazine, hydroxyzine, and alcohol.” Two police officers have resigned after handling the case and were scrutinized by members of her family and community. The controversy surrounding the young woman’s death garnered the attention of rappers Cardi B. and Bia publicly advocating for the investigation. Both women have met with the families offering support.

Many viewers are being forced to defend their experience against toxic ignorance

Viewers were quick to express their dismay at the lack of awareness shown by the show’s writers. In the days since the episodes aired, fans expressed their disappointment at the storyline’s developments and called on the soap opera to address their concerns. The network and the show’s producers have remained silent. However, racial insensitivity within the fanbase has led to a hateful backlash.

These are just two cases across the country where the person of color’s life ended in tragedy in situations that started similar to that of Trina’s. The decision to have Trina’s friends act with ambivalence echoed the behavior of white associates of the deceased women and the police officers investigating their deaths.

The responsibility of understanding the impact of racism does not fall on BIPOC

People of color, long forced to explain their rightful outrage, have once again been put on the defensive. The attacks, however, are something this GH fan has not seen in his many years watching the show and following fan sentiment.
The tactics have included direct posts from other fans that dismiss the opinions of people of color, often with racially insensitive language directed at actress Sydney Mikayla, and even fake accounts to degrade members of the community.

The Black community is under no obligation to educate anyone on why something is insensitive or painful for them. Fighting an unjust system is exhausting enough without sharing the burden of repairing the ignorance of others. All I can suggest is to listen, educate yourself and do what you can to raise awareness, show support and put your discomfort aside.

2 thoughts on “#SPRINA: GH Opens Familiar Wounds for Viewers, Fails A Community With Tone-Deaf, Color-Blind Storyline

  1. This is such a beautifully written article. Thank you for taking the time and do eloquently writing and calling out GH for their privilege and hurtful storylines.

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