What Happened After 'Grey's Anatomy' Showrunner Got Personal About White Privilege on Twitter

Krista Vernoff talks about her viral social media post on racism that drew praise from Ava DuVernay and led to frank conversations with her own teenagers.
Phillip Faraone/FilmMagic

Just after 9 a.m. on June 15, at the start of a new week, Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 showrunner Krista Vernoff posted an 11-tweet thread detailing past experiences, or lack thereof, with police.

The encounters included getting booked at 15 for stealing “thousands of dollars” of merchandise but never handcuffed; pulled over for drunk driving at 18 but getting out of it by faking asthma to avoid a breathalyzer; being lightly reprimanded and sent home by police after punching a guy in the face “standing two feet from a cop”; and between the ages of 11-22 being chased or admonished by police for drinking and doing drugs on private property or in public.

The revelations served to illuminate the ways white people are treated by law enforcement in the wake of yet another killing of a Black person by police: Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta, on June 12. “I’m asking the white people reading this to think about the crimes you’ve committed,” Vernoff posed. “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.”

The thread went viral, with more than 128,000 retweets, among them filmmaker Ava DuVernay who replied “This is a white woman talking honestly about her experiences and it’s one of the best threads on the criminalization of Black people that I’ve read lately.”

As for Vernoff, she tells THR: “The thread going viral necessitated some conversations with my three teenagers. Those were stories from my life that I had not yet shared with them. The fact that there have been no career ramifications and only support from my peers in Hollywood is another reflection of my white privilege.” 

A version of this story first appeared in the July 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.