'Blackish' Does Episode on Teaching Black Kids 'America Hates You'

Proctor & Gamble has a new campaign out called "The Talk," which is encouraging people to talk about bias. Since the main character in Blackish, Dre (Anthony Anderson) works for a marketing firm, the January 16 episode "Bow Knows" was a tie-in with this campaign in which his team is tasked to work on it. Being the sole black member on the team, he spends the episode trying to figure out how to explain to the rest of them that every black parent must have a talk with their kids about the realities they will face being black in America. 

While "the talk" that black families have is a reality, he presents it as one of the most unhelpful things I can imagine. Perhaps it's because of the way his mother, Ruby (Jenifer Lewis), had The Talk with him, which we see in a flashback. 

 

 

Ruby: America hates you. 
Ruby: Pick me up a pack of menthols. And remember, America hates you. 
Dre: I know, mama. 
Ruby: Please don't marry her! America already hates you!

I'm not sure how this is supposed to be helpful to race relations. 

Dre decides that he will try to find common ground with his co-workers to see what versions of "the talk" other people have. For example, a female coworker tells him that she doesn't jog at night because "I just hear my mom's voice in my head telling me, like, "Don't wear headphones, or men will sneak up on you," or, "Don't wear a ponytail, or men will grab you." and Dre shares that he doesn't jog at night because "me running at night, uh, would scare some people."

A coworker who was overweight growing up says that the other kids judged him on his appearance, and Dre almost responds reasonably, but takes it too far, telling him, "You know, when I was little, there were some other kids and an entire country that judged me based on my appearance." They bond over not having to live down to the stereotypes others set for you. 

With his bosses, it's more difficult. It turns out "The Talk" they have with their kids, since they're white men, is that people will treat them differently if they find out they're wealthy. Of course. 

I have no doubt that parents have to teach their children how to handle prejudice, but I have a lot of doubt that teaching them they are hated by an entire country is helpful. Isn't that fighting prejudice with prejudice? Does Dre need to be reminded that, by the time he was born (he's in his 40s), the major civil rights battles had been fought, and the people who fought them were part of "everybody in America?" That that term also includes all other people of color? 

Blackish consistently forgets to be funny in the quest to teach us a lesson every week, and consistently fails to teach the audience lessons because they're getting in their own way with this kind of nonsense. 


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