Target: Kenya Barris
Goal: Applaud sitcom writer for including discussion on police brutality in TV show.
A frank and heated discussion about police brutality was part of a recent episode of the ABC show “Blackish,” in which the Johnson family, at the show’s center, argue about the issue. The show is about three generations of a mixed-race, middle-class family, with Anthony Anderson as the star and patriarch of the household.
The episode, simply titled “Hope,” involved the family watching the news to see if a police officer accused of killing a black man in a jail cell will be indicted. During the proceedings, the central husband and wife characters have a discussion about what to tell their children about living in a world where young black people are disproportionately murdered, especially by law enforcement.
During the conversation, the names of Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland are dropped. Obama’s inauguration is also explicitly mentioned, with footage shown along the dialogue. The victim is heard being described on TV as “no angel.”
At the end of the episode, the cop is predictably not charged with any crime, and the family leaves to join a protest at the courthouse. It is a powerful episode, and it goes deeply and specifically into political areas, which sitcoms tend not to do. “Blackish” has tackled tough topics before, but this episode was a particularly important one. Show support for the episode’s writer, Kenya Barris, for not being afraid to cover such a controversial subject on television.
Dear Mr. Barris,
We are writing to thank you for the recent episode of your show, “Blackish,” titled “Hope.” It was a very important and heavy episode for a sitcom–a format wherein writers usually like to stay safe. Police brutality is obviously an extremely terrible and all too common occurrence in America, and it is an issue that many people may not want to talk about. But by openly addressing it in “Hope,” you forced people to listen and hopefully start discussions of their own.
The inclusion of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray into the episode were powerful specifics that gave the episode extra weight and brevity. We want to applaud you and the cast for not showing any fear in putting such a controversial topic into an episode of a sitcom. Thank you for standing up and making an important and necessary episode of television.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Toglenn