On Ceilings Made of Glass

Shonda Rhimes at THR’s Power Woman Breakfast 2014

When my publicist called to tell me that I was receiving this honor, I screwed up my face and I said, “Are you sure? Me?” And he said, “Yes.”
And I said, “Why?” And then I said, “No really, WHY?”

I know this isn’t an award because I’m a woman or because I’m African-American.

I come from a very large, very competitive family. Extremely competitive. And by competitive, I mean, my mother says we’re not allowed to play Scrabble anymore when we get together because of the injuries and the tears. One of the rules in my family is you don’t ever get a trophy for participation, you don’t get a trophy for just being you. So getting an award today BECAUSE I’m a woman and an African-American feels…I was born with an awesome vagina and really gorgeous brown skin. I didn’t do anything to make either of those things happen.

I was born with an awesome vagina and really gorgeous brown skin. I didn’t do anything to make either of those things happen.

If I’d broken the glass ceiling, that would mean I would have made it through to the other side. Where the air is rare. I would feel the wind on my face. The view from here — way up here where the glass ceiling is broken — would be incredible. Right? So how come I don’t remember the moment? When me with my woman-ness and my brown skin went running full speed, gravity be damned, into that thick layer of glass and smashed right through it? How come I don’t remember that happening?

If I had broken through a glass ceiling, I would have felt some cuts, I would have some bruises…I’d have wounds.

50 years ago trying to get out of separate rooms, 30 years ago trying to not serve breakfast or be groped by their bosses, 15 years ago trying to make clear that they could run a department as well as that guy over there.

I picked my spot in the glass and called it my target. And I ran.

So that when it was my turn to run, it didn’t even look like a ceiling anymore. I mean, the wind was already whistling through — I could always feel it on my face. And there were all these holes giving me a perfect view to other side. I didn’t even notice the gravity, I think it had worn itself away. So I didn’t have to fight as hard, I had time to study the cracks. I had time to decide where the air felt the rarest, where the wind was the coolest, where the view was the most soaring. I picked my spot in the glass and called it my target. And I ran. And when I hit finally that ceiling, it just exploded into dust.

I make stuff up for a living. Remember, it's not real, okay? Don't tweet me your craziness.

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