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National Black Law Journal

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Annalise Keating's Portrayal as a Black Attorney is the Real Scandal: Examining How the Use of Stereotypical Depictions of Black Women can Lead to the Formation of Implicit Biases


Law firms are struggling to increase the representation and retention of Black women, and Black women have reported feeling excluded, invisible, and a lack of support within law firms. In this Comment, I posit that ABC’s hit show “How to Get Away with Murder” over relies on traditional negative stereotypes about Black women. Annalise Keating, the show’s lead character, conforms to the stereotypes of the Jezebel, the Mammy, and the Angry Black Woman.  Further, Keating’s representation as a Black female attorney is uniquely significant because historically Black women have done very little lawyering on the television screen. Thus, Keating’s representation as a Black female attorney on a show that has garnered upwards of twenty million viewers in a single episode is extremely influential, as it can have the effect of shaping audiences’ perceptions about Black women in the legal profession. As a result, I argue that the show’s negative depiction of Keating as a Black female attorney can lead to the formation of implicit biases about Black female attorneys, and may contribute to why Black women are having a difficult time excelling in law firms, which are 92.75 percent White.

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