Calling Fitz Out on His White Privilege
After President Fitzgerald “Fitz” Grant tries to taunt Rowan Pope (played by Emmy winner Joe Morton), known best by some fans as Papa Pope, by dropping details about his sex life with Rowan’s daughter Olivia, he gears up for one of the most epic monologues to ever hit prime-time television. He laughs at Fitz’s futile efforts to get under his skin and immediately explains why his spoiled nature and white privilege automatically make him no match for the B613 commander.
“You’re a boy! You’ve been coddled, and cared for, pampered and hugged,” he spits. “For you it’s always summertime and the living is easy. Daddy’s rich, your momma’s good-looking, you’re a Grant. You got money in your blood. You….are….a….boy. I’m a man. I have worked for every single thing I have ever received. I have fought and scraped and bled for every inch of ground I walk on. I was the first in my family to go to college. My daughter went to boarding school with children of kings! I made that happen. You cried yourself to sleep because daddy hurt your feelings. Because papa banged his secretary. Because it hurt to have so much money. You spoiled, entitled, ungrateful little brat! You have everything handed to you on a silver platter, and you squander it. You’re given the world, and you can’t appreciate it because you haven’t had to work for anything!”
Scolding Olivia on the Reality of Racial Bias and the Importance of Work Ethic
In the midst of secret murders and conniving plots, there are some genuine moments that Rowan has with Olivia (played by Kerry Washington) that remind the audience that Rowan is a Black father trying to get his Black daughter to understand the world around her — including the realities of racism. In one of his most famous monologues to date, Olivia’s dad reminds her that she will always have to be “twice as good” just to get “half of what they have.”
“Did I not raise you for better,” he asks Olivia. “How many times have I told you, you have to be what? You have to be what?”
“Twice as good,” Olivia responds, allowing for her father to finish a previous rant he was already making at the time. After nearly three straight minutes of scolding, Rowan finishes up with a powerful statement.
“Twice as good as them to get half of what they have,” he says. “Sleeping with that … God sakes! You know to aim higher. At the very least, you could aim for chief of staff, secretary of state — first lady!? Do you have to be so mediocre?”