I do not watch a lot of television. I do not have cable, and I have only used the antennae on my television twice. When I do watch, I am watching Netflix or Hulu. I can binge if I want, or I can watch one show and be done.
I have recently been watching the television show, “Black-ish,” on Hulu. It is your typical family-oriented situation comedy. The characters rarely go beyond their broadly drawn stereotypes. I enjoy it, it’s light entertainment and it works great for when I’m in the mood for something that doesn’t make me think.
This week, though, they went beyond the canned laughter and tried to make a point. They had all of the characters discuss and debate their various points of views on the recent election.
The show loosely framed the plot around “who’s fault is it that Trump got elected?” The male, white elite characters blamed it on every race except their own; the white woman defended her choice to vote for Trump because she could only see the negatives Hillary represented; the black female who condemned the white female populace for not turning out for Hillary; the angry black grandfather who encouraged his grandson to look deeper into the oppression of the black people from the time they were kidnapped from their homes and shipped in chains to America; the high school student who had to give a speech on Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream,” speech but had never read the entire speech, which gave him a whole new perspective on civil rights; the high school student who didn’t want to stand up with any particular group, but felt that love is the answer; the mother who had always been able to turn to various focus groups to let her know how to respond who has no idea how to move forward now.
All of these perspectives were valid and presented with courtesy, the actor’s tried to give voice to the character’s true confusion about how to move forward. What I really appreciated was that none of the characters were shamed for their opinion. At no time did anyone refuse to speak to anyone else because they disagreed with each other.
I have very strong opinions, and fears, about where we are going as a nation. I have friends who disagree with me on almost every issue, and yet, we can still have discussions. We also can concede when the other person has a good, valid point, even if we don’t agree on the conclusion that arises from that point. I believe very strongly that if we don’t attempt to understand each other, we will always be working against each other instead of working together for the common good. That includes having really uncomfortable discussions sometimes.
Because the show is named “Black-ish,” and because the show it about a black family, the discussions in this week focused on issues from the perspective of a black family. I, obviously, am not black, but I really appreciated the open dialogue that was presented. I hope they choose to occasionally throw off the comedy cloak and address other important issues as the show moves forward.
As the show closed, the teenage son was seen reciting from MLK’s “I Have a Dream,” speech, and then segued to his black father giving his own speech at work about the disappointments the black race has had to learn to live with. The final scene was a clip of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering the original “I Have a Dream,” speech.
On Monday, January 16th, our nation honors Dr. King. I hope that we can all dedicate that day to some open, honest conversations about how we can best move forward, not just as a country, but as individuals who are all trying to do our best. I personally will continue to reach out to people and groups to see what I can do to help us move forward. One person’s voice might not matter, but I was only given one to speak with.
I don’t often cry while watching sit-coms. Yesterday, I did.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.