Black-ish: It’s About Time


Black-ishOn Wednesday, September 24th, America was introduced to a host of new characters, as the comedy Black-ish boldly stepped into ABC’s prime-time lineup.  I’m not going to lie to you; I thought the title alone would turn people off.  But after viewing the first episode, I’m proud to say I was pleasantly surprised.

Black-ish stars comedian Anthony Anderson as Andre, Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow and Laurence Fishburne as Pops.  It chronicles the misadventures of an upper middle-class Black American family as its members strive to keep their American dream alive while not losing their authenticity as members of the Black Diaspora.  In short, producers Anderson and Fishburne seem to offer this show to America in an attempt to dispel the myths that have come to define what it means to be Black in America.

In the first episode alone, Anderson’s character Andre has to come to grips with his being appointed Vice President of “Urban” Promotions.  Andre was confident that he would be getting a more prominent position within the company, one that has him mingling more with the corporate fat-cats.  But when he gets the word, in front of his mostly White colleagues mind you, he views it as a slap in the face, resulting from the fact that “urban” is synonymous with being, well, Black.  Like most of the Black people in America who happen to be working in Advertising, Public Relations or Promotions, Andre didn’t want his blackness to be the primary reason for his promotion.

Andre also has to deal with his son being so passionate about making the field hockey team. Andre wants his son to play basketball or football like most other Black kids in America. And when his son tells him that he wants to have a Bar Mitzvah, to solidify his friendships with a predominately white peer group, Andre loses it, taking matters into his own hands by making his son dress in African garb for a Rites of Passage ceremony.

It’s about time America got reacquainted with American Blacks.  Yeah, I know Kerry Washington is doing her thing on Scandal, and Viola Davis the same on How to Get Away with Murder, but America hasn’t been able to peer inside the home of a well-to-do Black family on the major three networks (i.e., ABC, CBS and NBC) since The Cosby Show. Moreover, it hasn’t seen Black youngsters thriving and surviving on high school and/or college campuses since A Different World.  It should be noted that both The Cosby Show and A Different World were televised on the same channel, NBC.  And their success had co-creator Bill Cosby seriously considering buying the NBC network.  It was clear then that a diverse coalition of Americans was falling in love with us as a people and as equals.

That being said, I hope the creators of Black-ish stay true to their core mission – portray Black Americans in a more positive light while clearly articulating Black American concerns.

My hope is Andre will visit his kinfolk in Ferguson, Missouri to hear them complain about the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

My hope is Andre’s wife Rainbow, who’s a pediatrician, will talk about how the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) is making healthcare more accessible and affordable to everyday Americans.

My hope is Laurence Fishburne’s Pops will go to the polling booth on November 4th, and, while waiting his turn in line, offer insight to his red, yellow, black, brown and white siblings from other mothers on why this country’s unenlightened Americans would rather make it harder for people to vote, not easier.

These are but three examples of issues that could be explored during the airing of this show. If the creators’ intent is to offer a true facsimile of what it means to be Black in America, they must do a Jon Stewart (from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show) and educate and enlighten while making us laugh about some very persistent issues.