A major plotline for season 3 of Showtime’s The Chi involves the disappearance of 18-year-old Kiesha Williams (Birgundi Baker). July 5’s episode “Buss Down” further explores the consequences of the disappearance, specifically the perception of the need for (or lack thereof) police in the black community of Chicago.
According to show creator Lena Waithe, as reported by UPI, she had a "Defund the Police" attitude even before George Floyd's death and the subsequent "Black Lives Matter" protests:
"Even before all of this happened, when I pitched Season 3 to the network and studio I said, 'I don't want any cops this season. Why do police have to be in the black community narrative at all?'" Waithe said.
"My amazing showrunner, Justin Hillian, basically said, 'Well, you know how to make cops go away? Make a black girl disappear.' So that's what we did," she added. "We focus on how the community comes together, leans on each other, and doesn't necessarily need police to be in their community."
There are several lines throughout the episode indicating that only missing white children matter as well as how the police can’t be bothered to help find Kiesha, likely because she is black. This comes up when Kiesha’s stepmother, Dre (Miriam A. Hyman), and her mother,
Nina Williams (Tyla Abercrumbie), attend a support group for mothers who have lost children:
Tracy: So I'm sure some of you have heard about Kiesha Williams. She's been missing for days.
Nina: Seven. She's been missing for seven days.
Tracy: This is her mom and... Stepmother. Y'all know the police ain't gonna do shit, so they need our help.
Feenie: This ain't no missing persons support group.
Tracy: Did I start the group, or did you? This is about all of Chicago's kids, dead or missing.
Feenie: So what's the plan?
Tracy: The fact that more than half of y'all don't know who Kiesha is is a problem. So I think we need to make sure everybody knows Kiesha's name. They should know her face. When they see her, they shouldn't just see another missing black girl they don't know. They should see their own daughter. That's the only way we gonna get people to care.
Tracy: Now, I wanna make Nina and Dre the focus of our vigil tomorrow night.
Dre: That would be amazing.
Nina: Thank you so much.
Tracy: This is what we do.
Feenie: No shade, but how do we know Kiesha's even missing?
Nina: Excuse me?
Feenie: I've seen your daughter's Instagram.
Tracy: What about it? -
Roveena: I've seen it too.
Dre: What's the problem?
Feenie: From what I can tell, she's always posting naked pictures, and she stays in my son's comments.
Dre: Who's your son?
Feenie: I don't mean no disrespect.
Nina: I'm feeling real disrespected right now.
Tracy: Mm-mm, we don't judge around here.
Nina: I've seen my daughter's social media. There are no naked pictures anywhere.
Feenie: I'm not talking regular Instagram. I'm talking Finsta.
Dre: The fuck is Finsta?
Feena: That's when the kids make a fake 'Gram account and then they post all kinds of pictures and videos they don't want they mothers to see.
Dre: Look, Kiesha is missing. And every second that we waste talking about her morals or lack thereof, we could be out there trying to find her.
Tracy: Agreed. I don't care if she was letting fools run trains on her. This is somebody's child.
Feena: Tracy, you have worked too damn hard to start this group. People are just starting to take us seriously. I don't want some fast-ass girl ruining our reputation.
Roveena: And the second we put her pictures out, them racy photos are gonna start popping up all over the Internet, and then people gonna be looking at us like we crazy.
Tracy: I don't care how folks look at us. Why our kids always gotta be saints all the time? I see white kids do crazy shit every day. But if one of them goes missing, it ends up on CNN. -
Dre: Hell yeah.
Other Mom: That's right.
Dre: And didn't your son get caught robbing a shoe store before he got killed?
At the vigil later, Tracy calls for community help saying, "Y'all know we can't depend on the police to protect our kids."
Viewers have yet to find out where, exactly, Kiesha is. Dre and Kiesha’s younger brother, Kevin (Alex R. Hibbert), are sent to the bowels of South Chicago for clues. June 28’s episode featured Dre checking out a homeless encampment. This week, Kevin is able to convince Trig (Luke James) and his transgender girlfriend, Imani (Jasmine Davis) to force their way into a trap house full of abused teen girls to find Kiesha. “If she be here, it ain't by choice,” one of the teen girls ominously tells Imani.
Though the scene is dark, it’s very clear that teen girls are doing drugs and having sex. Imani walks in on a man beating a girl with a belt as they have sex, all while she begs him to stop. Before Imani can meaningfully intervene, Trig dismisses it, telling her, "Hey, stay focused. We on a mission." While Imani is visibly distressed, she follows Trig out.
The police can’t act if they don’t know anything about this house. Perhaps Trig or at least Imani could tell them? Unsurprisingly, they don’t. Perhaps Imani can do something herself, then? After all, Waithe mentions, “We focus on how the community comes together, leans on each other, and doesn't necessarily need police to be in their community.” Imani gives and seemingly drops her plans to rescue the abused young girls from the house because, as Trig says, "We can't save everybody." So much for “coming together.” Imani might still act on her own to do something in later episodes, but I’m not holding my breath.
Several characters, known and unknown, are dragged through hell. And it all seems to be to serve the anti-police narrative. It’s as if every police officer is a racist, unfeeling to the plight of the black community, which is not true. Apparently carrying on that narrative is worth more than the safety and livelihood of black teen girls, though.