What I love about show Black-ish, is that it rarely shies away from dealing with controversial and contemporary issues. Which is why it is one of the boldest shows on network television that talks about race and society in America. Until now. The episode “Please, Baby, Please” was replaced with a rerun from earlier in the series. The reason? Well, the reason that’s being given is “creative differences” from the show’s creator Kenya Barris. I can (and I will) speculate on what those creative differences are, but for the most part, someone, somewhere in the chain of command didn’t feel that it was appropriate to air the episode.
The episode looks like this: On the night of a big thunderstorm that keeps the whole family awake, Anthony Anderson’s Dre cares for their infant son Devante who refuses to stop crying and go back to sleep. After reading the child a bedtime story doesn’t work, Dre decides to make up one of his own that touches on “multiple political and social issues” as well as Dre’s concerns about the state of the country. One scene features Dre and his eldest son Junior (Marcus Scribner) arguing over whether or not athletes should be allowed to kneel before games, à la Colin Kaepernick.
Because I haven’t seen the episode, I presume that each of the characters takes a different side? So the episode isn’t really that controversial, is it? Sure, maybe one character is trying to persuade the other character, but that’s what we do in life. Why hide that? If they were both adamant and made some sweeping generalizations, then sure, I can see how that’s controversial. But the fact that they’re arguing over whether or not athletes should be allowed to take a knee is simply just communicating about a controversial topic in our society.
What bothers me a bit is that Barris wrote and directed the episode, which was shot in November. But when it comes time to air, Barris is saying “creative differences”. She obviously felt that it was a good episode, to begin with, or it wouldn’t have been shot in the first place. Which is why I would assume this kind of direction is coming from pretty high up.
And when I say pretty high up, I mean waaaay up there. And maybe not directly, but indirectly we can see how the Trump administration is trying to control the message. In my opinion, this episode should be aired. While it might be controversial, it’s something that we should still be talking about. There’s a saying – you only start to grow when you step outside your comfort zone. This will make people uncomfortable – but that’s a good thing. It means that people will start to understand the issue and perhaps lessen the severity of the controversy a bit. But there are many other reasons why the episode should be aired.
To start, this is kind of what the show does. They have aired numerous episodes that explore controversial subjects like – postpartum depression, slavery, police brutality and Donald Trump. So how is this one any different? Like anything, the movement has been hijacked by people who suggest that taking a knee is disrespectful of people in the military. But we know it’s not. The national anthem belongs to everyone, in my opinion. If you choose not to stand during the anthem, it doesn’t mean that you’re anti-military. But that’s the way that the message has been construed. In fact, there are some people in the military who aren’t offended by taking a knee. Even suggesting that by making this a military issue now, people are weaponizing the service for a political purpose.
Lastly, and what I think is maybe the most important thing to mention, both sides are being heard. Yes, I said it before but it bears repeating. What we don’t talk about a lot is that athletes are a right to make their voices heard. Everyone does. LeBron gets a lot of flak for having opinions about politics, but the fact is he’s famous, so people are listening. And people are also afraid of his influence. It’s not about the movement, it’s not about the cause, it’s about being afraid of equality. A white person can take a stand on a racial issue, and that makes them woke. But if a person of color does the exact same thing, they are berated by the media and people in power for trying to influence society. What’s wrong with this picture?