ABC’s comedy black-ish (sic) celebrated black history on Tuesday’s episode, “Black History Month.” But only liberal black figures were truly celebrated while only one conservative, Dr. Ben Carson, was mentioned…and treated like a pariah. The show also depicted its white characters as ignorant and racist, as per usual.
When main character Dre (Anthony Anderson) finds out that his children are only being taught about typical black historical figures such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, he becomes incensed and pays a visit to his kids’ teacher Ms. Davis (Jennie Pierson), who is so ignorant that she hopes Dre will help her do her job and come up with “one more black person” the students should know about.
Ms. Davis: Mr. Johnson. You are supposed to email me before you come in. We had a deal.
Dre: Yeah, and I thought we had a deal- I pay you, you educate my children. But after hearing about your Black History Month lesson, you owe me a lot of change.
Ms. Davis: I tried so hard this year. We studied Harriet Tubman, Dr. King, Frederick Douglass, and, George Washington Carver.
Dre: But you didn't have to stop there. All right, there are a million people that you could have kept talking about. Hell, if you had just picked one person that Chadwick Boseman played, I would not be yelling at you, despite our agreement, which I never signed, by the way.
Ms. Davis: Well, tomorrow is our "Farewell to Black History Month" assembly. Now, I was going to show the PG parts of "Get Out," but, hey, since you know so much about this stuff, maybe you could come in and teach the students about one more black person they should know.
Dre: Oh, would you like me to do that for you?
Ms. Davis: I'd be so relieved if you took it off my plate.
Dre: Do your job, Davis!
Principal: Mr. Johnson, you're supposed to email before you come. We had a deal.
Dre: Which I never signed. But I was just leaving.
Ms. Davis: Maybe you could point me in the direction of a good black person?
Principal: Okay, let's unpack what you just said.
Ms. Davis: What?
Principal: You did a racism.
Ms. Davis: Again?
Oh, that silly, ignorant, racist Ms. Davis! Whatever shall we do with her? /sarcasm
When Dre goes to work, he’s visibly upset, leading his boss to ask him what’s wrong. “My kids' teacher asked me to choose a new person to talk about for Black History Month,” Dre replies. He then leans over to his black coworker and says under his breath, “Once again, the black man has to educate white people.”
“…the only thing you need to know about Black History Month are the top four, right,” his white boss Mr. Stevens (Peter Mackenzie) asks. “Tubman, Carver, King, Sinbad.” “Black History Month is kind of a bummer,” Dre’s white coworker Josh (Jeff Meacham) chimes in. “It's all slavery and people getting blasted by fire hoses.” “Which is actually why we gave you the shortest month,” Mr. Stevens adds.
Granted, the show did have Dre’s black coworker say that Harriet Tubman invented the bathtub. So, we could give them the benefit of the doubt if it weren’t for their history of presenting their white characters as ignorant racists, including the portrayal of Ms. Davis in this very episode.
Later, Dre decides to take part in the school assembly after all. Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer has a cameo role in this episode and in various cutaways, she gives information on each historical and current black figure mentioned in the show. After she finishes, dramatic organ music plays while a black power fist is shown on the screen, and Spencer states, “And that’s a black person you should know.”
Dre decides he’s going to teach the students about Lewis Howard Latimer, a child of runaway slaves who “earned multiple patents, including one for the carbon filament which paved the way for our modern lightbulb,” Spencer explains.
The show then takes an intersectional turn when Dre’s wife Bow gets upset that Dre came up with a black man rather than a black woman to teach to the students about. “So, you've researched 400 years of Black excellence, and you came up with a man,” she asks.
She later says to her mother and daughter, “…we all know that the real unsung heroes of black history are women,” and mentions former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders who served during the Clinton administration. “Joycelyn Elders became the first Black Surgeon General in 1993. She used her position to talk about sex education and drug addiction in a way that cut through sound bites and addressed people's real lives,” Spencer states.
Interesting. No mention of Elders’ eugenic comments on abortion, which praised killing unborn children as a way to lower the number of birth defects, particularly children with Down syndrome. Or that she was forced to resign after suggesting that masturbation be taught to school children. I think the honorable Condoleezza Rice would have been a much better choice to highlight.
The show's Twitter account currently features a tweet about Joycelyn Elders at the top of their page (at the time of this writing) urging people to #RetweetToSaveALife. Umm, what?
While the show treated Elders with kid gloves, guess which black figure it did pick apart? Yep, you guessed it. Esteemed, conservative politician, author and former neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, whom Spencer refuses to discuss. Guess she feels that’s a black person we shouldn’t know?
Pops: See, we're all just wasting our breath. Dre's the one with the fancy degree. Been telling us for 20 years that he's Mr. Black History. You can't even get on the Black History Month poster until he approves.
Dre: Hey, Pops, now you're putting a lot on it.
Pops: Am I? If that's not the case, what if I said... Ben Carson?
Octavia Spencer: Ben Carson. Unh-unh. Nope.
Ruby: Oh, you talking about the soul brother who said slaves were a bunch of black immigrants coming to America looking for a better life?
Pops: The man performed the first successful brain surgery on a baby in the womb. Matter of fact, I remember you said the movie about him was inspirational, Dre.
Junior: Cuba Gooding Jr. had me thinking he was Ben Carson.
Ruby: Ooh, can we put Cuba on the list?
Jack: Whoa, whoa. So, you're saying Boat Trip is about Ben Carson?
Dre: Boy, we are not putting Ben Carson on the list!
Pops: A man's life's work doesn't disappear just because you disagree with his politics.
Wise words from Pops (Laurence Fishburne). But to leave that quote about “black immigrants” hanging without giving it the context it was said in and the intention it was said with and failing to mention that Obama said the same thing, eleven different times? Just goes to prove their bias, no matter what line they gave to the character of Pops.
When Dre finally gives his presentation, he says that “28 days isn’t long enough,” and that the students should be “learning about these black heroes every day along with the white ones.” I don’t know about you, but when I was in school (decades ago), we regularly learned about black heroes along with white ones and were even assigned books in English class that dealt with the history of slavery and civil rights as part of our regular assignments.
Dre salutes several controversial black figures, including Black Lives Matter founders and activists - Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and DeRay Mckesson. He even gives a nod to Ben Carson, “but only for the surgery stuff,” he adds. #eyeroll (Does this disrespect towards Carson sound familiar?)
You’d think, judging from this episode, that Dr. Ben Carson is the only conservative black figure to have ever existed. In honor of people of color who have been brave enough to think for themselves and not be forced to toe the liberal line, despite the hatred the Hollywood left has towards them, here are just a handful of conservative black figures as listed by Ranker.com.
And those are several black people you should know.