Wednesday night, Black-ish offered the world a look into the homes of Black families. Overall, the show is hilarious and tackles issues that come about in Black families (of varying degrees), but last night I saw us. This period where we see Black bodies slain by the hands of the police is a part of our history, and in true Black sitcom form, the cast did not disappoint. We saw denial, blaming, fear, and hurt. The episode was raw and exposed our vulnerabilities every time a new story about police brutality comes about. This is our history, this is America’s history, and I am grateful to the writers of Black-ish for delivering such an honest episode.
Watching the episode, I completely understood the heartbreak that comes when an officer is not indicted. I felt the feeling of defeat that Zoey (Yara Shahidi) expressed when she acknowledged that this can happen to anyone. I recognized the outrage that Junior (Marcus Scribner) felt and that desire to protest. I was in tune with all of those feelings, yet I empathized most with Jack (Miles Brown) and Diane (Marsai Martin). For most of the episode, they were kept in the dark about what was happening in the world around them. The truth is, despite the efforts of parents, kids will always know what is going on. The internet and social media make virtually everything assessable to young people, but it is important that lessons like these come from home.
Every Black kid has had the conversations we saw on the episode last night. From the time we were Jack and Diane’s age, probably younger, we were taught how to behave if we were pulled over by the police. We know to be respectful, peaceful, and do whatever we can to leave the situation alive. But as we get older, we learn that even if we are respectful and peaceful, that doesn’t mean we will leave the situation alive. It’s imperative that we don’t leave that part out of the conversation. Tamir Rice was only a few years older than Jack and Diane when he was killed. If our babies can be killed while playing at the playground, they deserve to know.
For most of the show, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) tried to conceal the depth of police brutality from the twins. She wanted them to remain grateful for the police and expressed that if they were on their best behavior they would make it to court. Andre (Anthony Anderson), felt much differently and refused to let the twins live in denial. During the episode, I was at the verge of tears, but when he delivered a power monologue about President Obama and hope, I could no longer keep it together. We all felt hope when he was elected, and we all felt that fear when he walked the streets of D.C. We felt the fear that he too, could be killed.
As much as it hurts that we have to teach our kids about police brutality, it’s quite necessary. The world is constantly changing and our children will never live in a world where there hasn’t been a Black president. The will never live in a world where information is not at their fingertips. It is because of this that we need to ensure that they have honest and relevant information. We need to be confident that when they tell their children about this time, they can offer candid stories, and real life details. In some cases, ignorance is bliss. But when it’s a matter of life or death, the more you know, the better off you will be. The best way to protect our children is to arm them with as much knowledge as they can hold and pray that it serves them.