Grey's Anatomy showrunner shares how she got away with teen 'mistakes' because she was white
Director Ava Duvernay singled out Vernoff's thread for "talking honestly about her experiences" as a white woman in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. "Its one of the best threads on the criminalization of Black people that I’ve read lately," Duvernay added.
Vernoff, who has been candid in the past about struggles with alcohol, begins the thread by saying at 15 she was "chased through a mall by police who were yelling 'stop thief!' I had thousands of dollars of stolen merchandise on me. I was caught, booked, sentenced to 6 months of probation, required to see a parole officer weekly. I was never even handcuffed."
Two years later, Vernoff says she was "pulled over for drunk driving. When the Police Officer asked me to blow into the breathalyzer, I pretended to have asthma and insisted I couldn’t blow hard enough to get a reading. The officer laughed then asked my friends to blow and when one of them came up sober enough to drive, he let me move to the passenger seat of my car and go home with just a verbal warning."
At 19, Vernoff said she "drunkenly attacked" a girl at a party for flirting with her sister's boyfriend and "swung a gallon jug of water, full force, at her head." But "the police were never called," she added. And at 20, "I punched a guy in the face while we were both standing two feet from a cop. The guy went to the ground and came up bloody and screaming that he wanted me arrested, that he was pressing charges." She then adds between the ages of 11 and 22, "my friends and I were chased and/or admonished by police on several occasions for drinking or doing illegal drugs on private property or in public. I have no criminal record."
Vernoff wraps her thread by asking the question, "If I had been shot in the back by police after the shoplifting incident - in which I knowingly and willfully and soberly and in broad daylight RAN FROM THE COPS – would you say I deserved it?" Continuing, "I’m asking the white people reading this to think about the crimes you’ve committed. (Note: You don't call them crimes. You and your parents call them mistakes.) Think of all the mistakes you’ve made that you were allowed to survive."
Vernoff then clarified what the call to "defund the police" really means."Defunding the police is not about 'living in a lawless society.' It’s about the fact that in this country, we’re not supposed to get shot by police for getting drunk."
"The system that lets me live and murders Rayshard Brooks is a broken system that must change. Stop defending it. Demand the change."
Her thread has been retweeted over 75,000 times so far. The thread not only garnered thousands of likes but spawned a thoughtful discussion about race and white privilege.
Vernoff, 46, has been a vital member of the Grey's writing staff since its first season. She's been the Grey's showrunner since 2017.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
• ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.