Black-ish takes on police violence against African-Americans

An ABC sitcom actually went there on police brutality

In the latest episode of ABC’s Black-ish, Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) wrestles with ways to educate his children on the realities of growing up black in America.

“Hope” takes place entirely inside the Johnson family room and kitchen where the youngest members — Jack and Diane — watch news coverage of an unarmed African-American man’s death. The episode references the deaths of both Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray in police custody, Malcolm X's Plymouth Rock speech and even links author Ta-Nehisi Coates to James Baldwin.

“They are not just children, they are black children and they need to know the world they are living in,” Andre said in one scene.

“I just want to give them a little faith in the world,” his wife Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) responds. “Help them hold on to their innocence and be kids a little while longer.”

Show runner Kenya Barris explained that the episode is not politicised but shows the delicate balance black parents face in the age of social media and 24/7 news coverage.

“Police brutality is the issue we chose to talk about, but the bigger issue for me is talking to your kids about what’s going on in the world,” Barris told The New York Times. “It used to be you could shelter them in your own way, but with Internet and phones and 24-hour news, you can’t avoid those conversations.”

Anthony Anderson Monologue on Hope & Obama from Blackish

#UIRandall: Say what you want about black-ish but they put on a tremendous episode tonight! Check out Anthony Anderson's chilling monologue about hope & Obama. #blackish #BlackishABC

Posted by Urban Intellectuals on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Barris admit that he was "very worried" to bring the episode’s subject matter to ABC execs but said he received fewer notes than previous episodes. Ahead of the premiere, Barris told Entertainment Weekly that he drew inspiration from the experience of raising his children.

"It literally kicked off from my son during the Ferguson indictment period," he said. "When the results were coming out, whether they were going to be indicted or not, my son, Beau — at the time he was like 6 or 7 — turned around and said, 'Why are these people so mad?' And it really kicked off a conversation between me and my wife and how to actually answer that question."

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