Young Shazad Berklin experiences a valuable lesson about privilege as he learns how to drive. He has difficulty maneuvering through stop signs and experiences two different scenarios, one with his white step-father and one with his black father.
In the April 30 episode of TBS's The Last O.G. titled “Sound of Da Police,” Shazad (Dante Hoagland) is stopped by a policeman for rolling through a stop sign instead of coming to a full stop. Josh Berklin (Ryan Gaul), his white step-father, says to let him handle the situation as the white cop approaches their vehicle. When Josh is told that Shazad will receive a ticket, he goes off on the cop but then quickly calms down. The cop ends up just giving him a warning as he talks about teaching his own kids to drive.
Josh: Yeah, slow and steady. Straighten it out. Good, good, good, good.
Driver: Hey, learn how to drive before I beat your ass!
Josh: I don't think he saw that you were a kid.
Shazad: He was looking right at me when he said it.
Josh: Straighten out. Straighten out. There you go. Perfect. Now we're approaching a stop sign. You know what that means, right?
Shazad: It's -- it's right on the sign.
Josh: Yeah. Just making sure. What are you doing? You didn't stop.
Shazad: Yes, I did.
Josh: No, you didn't stop. You rolled right -- You rolled right through it at a stop sign.
Shazad: I did stop!
Josh: At the stop sign, you have to complete -- Ugh. Aw, shoot. Pull over.
Shazad: I know. I am. I'm pulling over.
Josh: Okay. All right. Stay calm. Roll down your window. Don't worry. I will handle this. I will handle this. Hello, officer. What seems to, uh, be a problem?
Cop: You know you drove through a stop sign back there, right?
Josh: Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I'm teaching my son how to drive, so...
Cop: Well, that's understandable.
Josh: Thank you.
Cop: But I got to write him a ticket.
Josh: What?! Are you kidding me?
Cop: He broke the law.
Josh: Oh, come on, man. You know what? Instead of standing here, harassing my son, you should be somewhere else actually stopping a real crime.
Cop: All right, bud, you need to calm down. I am doing my job here, okay?
Josh: Okay, yeah, I'm sorry. Yeah. Can we start over, please?
Josh: I'm sorry, officer. I know that a law was broken. I'm just asking you to take into account that no one was harmed, and this, uh -- this is actually a teachable moment.
Cop: No, I get that. Someone came along and spoiled my father/son bonding moment, I'd probably get pretty pissed off, too. Why don't we call it even, and I'll let you off with a warning, right?
Josh: Thank you. Thank you, officer. Yeah, and I'm sorry for yelling.
Cop: No worries. No worries. Stressful teaching your son how to drive, by the way. Yeah. I had to do it myself a couple times.
Josh: No kidding. Well, thank you. I appreciate it.
Cop: All right.
Josh: Thank you, officer!
Cop: All right.
Shazad is impressed with Josh talking his way out of a ticket. Later, when his black father, Tray (Tracy Morgan), and Tray’s cousin Bobby (Allen Maldonado) take him for a driving lesson, Shazad is again pulled over by police. This time he does come to a full stop but the cop issues him a ticket anyway. Shazad launches into the same tirade that Josh did during his driving lesson. The cop is not impressed. Note, too, that Bobby works into the end of the scene that police planted evidence on him during his last arrest.
Tray: Shahzad, this is where your grandpa first taught me how to drive. By jumping in the car with a handful of cash and a gunshot wound, something about, "Drive, nigga! Drive!" Yeah, but I might be embellishing a little bit. You know what I'm saying? We was poor as shit. That happened on the bus.
Shazad: Man, you really lived "The Wire."
Tray: Yeah, but I'm here with you, my son, teaching you how to drive. First thing I got to teach you is how to relax behind the wheel.
Bobby: For real, man. You need to loosen up, okay? You're over there white-knuckling it. You know, matter of fact, holler at shorty right here.
Shazad: Right here?
Bobby: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Tray: Yo, what up? Oh, word. All I said was hi. Stop sign. Slow down. Okay, now pull over right here and let me teach you how to double park. Oh, shit. Come on, son.
Bobby: Yo, straighten up. Put your hands up. My hands is up, man.
Tray: Be cool, Bobby! What are you doing? What are you doing?
Cop: License and registration.
Tray: Stop with the sudden movements, man. You trying to get us killed?
Shazad: Here you go, officer. I stopped at the stop sign. I know I did. I counted to three Mississippi.
Tray: Don't you dare say the word Mississippi with this white cop. You'll give him ideas.
Shazad: What are you talking about?!
Tray: I'm your father, man. Listen to me.
Cop: Here you go.
Tray: Thank you, officer.
Cop: And here's your ticket. You have a good day.
Shazad: Hold on, a ticket. This must be a mistake. A ticket, off-- Wait a minute. Are you serious? Don't you have anything better to do? 'Cause while you're standing here harassing us, you're wasting our hard-earned tax dollars.
Bobby: Nobody in here pays taxes, brother.
Cop: Sir, you need to calm down.
Shazad: I am calm! Look, officer, I understand that you think I broke the law, but I didn't.
Shazad: And I need you to take into account that nobody's harmed here, and this is a teachable moment.
Cop: I'm gonna ask you to put your hands on the dashboard.
Tray: Oh, come on!
Bobby: Aw, man!
Tray: That's how they got me last time, Cuzzo.
Bobby: Mm-hmm. I'd like to em try to plant something on me this time.
Tray is shocked at Shazad’s bold talk with the cop. He, Shazad’s mother, Shay (Tiffany Haddish), and Josh sit down and give Shazad “the police talk.” They explain that not all cops are racist but that a black man can be innocent and end up killed by the police without any consequences to the police. Ugh. Tray blames his 15-year sentence for selling 2 ounces of crack on racism.
In order to counter Shazad’s life of privilege with Josh and Shay, Tray takes him to a public high school where Shazad can see how less fortunate black and brown kids go to school. Shazad ends up inspiring the kids to protest that the school is named after President Andrew Johnson.
As the students sit cuffed in front of the school, a white cop sees Shazad’s private school ID and lets him go. This is when Shazad realizes that privilege can be good. Tray tells Shazad that he just has to remember to use it to his advantage and pull people up with him.
The good thing about this episode is that Shay is not willing to jump on the bandwagon and paint all police as racist. Josh and Shay explain that while some may be racist, that doesn’t make all cops racist. Also, while Shazad lives a sheltered life of privilege, he learns the lesson that he can turn his advantages in life into an opportunity to help others.