Pop Pedestal: Kima Greggs

Kelsey Wallace
View profile »

Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

It’s time for another Pop Pedestal, the series where we pay tribute to fictional characters we admire. Up today is Detective Kima Greggs of HBO’s The Wire, played by Sonja Sohn.

Kima Greggs, a young black woman with her hair pulled back, looks off camera. She is wearing a blue collared shirt. Kima’s on the case!

The Pedestal Profile: Shakima (Kima) Greggs is a detective with the Baltimore Police Department, working mainly narcotics and homicide cases. She’s well respected on the job for being professional, tough, and, in Baltimore cop parlance, “good po-lice.” As far as her personal life goes, Kima is an out lesbian who has a child (and an off-and-on relationship) with her partner Cheryl, a broadcast journalist.

Admirable Qualities: Kima Greggs is a straight-up badass detective. She is unflappable in the face of danger and corruption, and she doesn’t take shit from anyone, even though she works in a world that throws a lot of shit her way. In a department of cops with (sometimes, somewhat) questionable ethics, Kima has integrity and always gets the job done.

It’s worth mentioning that Kima’s the only female detective in a department full of men, and she’s also a woman of color. When her gender, race and/or sexuality are called into question—which happens on a fairly regular basis—she shuts that crap down ASAP. While she is openly gay at work, she doesn’t want it to define her as a detective or a person. Here’s a clip where she refuses to allow her colleague Carver to interrogate her about being a lesbian (notice that Kima is working throughout this scene while Carver is kicking back—her work ethic is unstoppable!):

Throughout The Wire’s five seasons, Kima Gregg’s is consistently one of the most (if not the most) valuable detectives on the force. Her courage and smarts crack many a case for the team (I’ll try not to give too many spoilers away, but they do!) and her relationship with her Confidential Informant Bubbles proves to be invaluable on more occasions than one.

To be fair, Kima Greggs’ behavior in her personal life is a bit less admirable than her behavior on the job, but it wouldn’t be a David Simon show without some nuance now, would it? She struggles with family and fidelity issues at home, and in the tradition of television detectives who are “married to the job,” spends more time drinking with fellow detectives than she does with her young son, Elijah. Though these qualities aren’t exactly Pop Pedestal inspiration fodder, it’s refreshing to see a woman onscreen who can’t “do it all” and is struggling with the same issues we usually see guys (read: just about every married male cop on TV ever) battle. Here’s a clip of Kima and her colleague Jimmy McNulty discussing the difficulties they have maintaining relationships outside of work:

black and white drawing of Kima Greggs holding a gun. Her hair is pulled back and she is standing up straightHer Influence: I have to admit, I’m surprised by the lack of Internet superKimafans. Though there are lots of blog posts and YouTube clips of her, I would have thought that a TV cop who kicks as much ass as she does would have inspired a slew of fan clubs, fanfic, and merch already. I did, however, find this awesome Kima cartoon by Dennis Culver. (Psst! Dennis! Turn it into an online webcomics spinoff series already!)

I’d venture to say that the character of Kima Greggs has also influenced the types of female cops we see on TV. From The Killing to Law & Order SVU, we’re presented with many female detectives who struggle with the pressures of the job on television these days, and many of them, like Kima, end up choosing police work over home life. Sure, Kima Greggs wasn’t the first female detective on television by any means, but she was one of the first (to my knowledge, at least) to struggle with her “second shift” duties as a wife and parent so honestly and openly, sometimes coming up short but always getting the job done.

That’s Not All: Though not exactly known for her amazing mothering, one of The Wire’s most beloved and iconic scenes is this one, where Kima delivers a Baltimore-themed version of “Goodnight Moon” to her young son Elijah:

Think of her When: You face on-the-job pressure. Kima always steps up to the plate and solves the case, even when the odds are stacked against her. She’d take care of business, and you can too!

Get Bitch Media's top 9 reads of the week delivered to your inbox every Saturday morning! Sign up for the Weekly Reader:

7 Comments Have Been Posted

Long live Kima!

Long live Kima!

I always did have a girl

I always did have a girl crush on Kima. She was bad ass!!!

Not convinced - not convinced

Not convinced - not convinced at all! Being pregnant myself right now I don't think that a women who behaves just as bad as her fellow colleagues do is something to put on a pedestal. That is altogether irritating me quite a lot in this program - it seems to be very heroic to fuck around while the wife/girlfriend is busy doing boring women-stuff like caring for the children. Is the goal really to behave just as bad as men have done for generations? Not really promising future then...

Not quite

Hi Hanne,

I should point out that the reason I admire Kima is that she's a badass detective who works well under pressure. I only mentioned her infidelity in this post because it's part of her character, not because I think it's inspirational. Hope that clears things up!

Sonja Sohn before The Wire - bad-ass spoken word artist

I was really pleased that bad-ass biracial spoken word artist Sonja Sohn played the role of Kima. I remembered Sonja from her role co-starring with Saul Williams in the 1998 independent film Slam. This film is a must see if you want to catch powerful performances by the awesome Sohn!

One of my favorite characters

One of my favorite characters ever to grace the small screen, glad to see her getting the props she deserves!

Add new comment