On Wednesday, Feb. 24, “Black-ish” aired its first emotional, sensitive episode. For those who are unfamiliar with “Black-ish,” it is a sitcom that shows what it is like to be an African-American family today, basically a modern-day version of “The Cosby Show.”
“Black-ish” was created by Kenya Barris, who based the show off of his own life. In fact, he created Wednesday’s episode in response to a police brutality conversation in his own home. When his seven-year-old son asked him why people were angry with the Ferguson indictment, Barris and his wife, Bow, found themselves conflicted on how to respond to his question.
Typically, the show is airy and filled with comedy. However, it got intimate last Wednesday when the show discussed the topics of both police brutality and justice.
The story line for the episode begins with the Johnson family surrounding the TV while watching a police brutality case that is being covered on CNN. Throughout the coverage of the case, the Johnson family finds themselves confused and divided. The younger siblings, Jack and Diane, are lost and don’t comprehend the world around them, which causes their parents, Dre and Bow, to have divided views on parenting and approaching the subject of police brutality. On one hand, Bow doesn’t think the twins are ready to handle the truth and would assert that the police are just doing their jobs. On the other, Dre thinks the children should be educated on the matter and be able to see the evil in the world.
At the same time, older siblings, Andre Jr. and Zoey, find themselves conflicted. Junior wants to be proactive and take a stance, but Zoey is afraid and confused about how to respond. Meanwhile, the grandparents of the family take a strong stance and believe that the family should discuss police brutality and how to react to it, because it’s a reoccurring event that keeps happening in their lifetime.
The objective of the episode “Hope” was to encourage the black community to sit down with their children and have conversations about what is happening in the black community. The actors and actresses helped provoke that conversation by succeeding in their roles. Tracee Ross excels at her character, Bow, who plays a protective mother who wants to shield her children from the dangers in the world while playing devil’s advocate. Anthony Anderson plays the perfect counterpart with his character Dre, the concerned parent that believes his children should be informed. Together, they help raise the question: when is it appropriate to have this conversation with your children? These main characters helped shape and form the overall message and theme of the episode, which is hope.
Overall, they were able to deliver this message in a light-hearted way while maintaining an air of seriousness. Furthermore, the actresses and actors (Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scriber, Miles Brown and Marsai Martin) who played their children successfully, raised the questions, “Why are people mad, what do you say when you are speaking to cops and what’s the right way to make a change?” The children of the show represented the feelings of young black Americans who look to their parents and elders for guidance. The questions raised during the show are clearly formed to ignite a conversation in viewers’ homes.
After the show aired, I saw many family and friends on Facebook backing up the show and the message behind it. The posts were encouraging everyone to talk about intimate topics, such as police brutality in their hometowns. The show even made me reflect on the conversation in my own home on the night of the Baltimore riots after Freddie Gray’s death.
Overall, “Black-ish’s” episode, “Hope,” achieved its goal of igniting the black community to speak about sensitive experiences and hardships. It provoked viewers to write about it on social media, speak about it on their shows and write about it in their blogs and papers.