The Reel: Being Black-Ish
"In a market that is obsessed with magnifying, glamorizing and pimping out dysfunction under the disguise of reality tv, "The Reel" is a blog segment that thrives in the existence of the contrary. It highlights a variety of characters, couples, families and friends who all have had significant roles in television and film, as well as a direct positive impact on the way we (people of color) tangibly and realistically view relationships, run our households, and identify ourselves in the eyes of mainstream media."
Ok, before I start, I'm just going to be honest, I don't watch much television, well at least not anymore. I DVR everything, or just catch it on Netflix. I even have the SNL app on my phone. Because, whenever I turn on my tv, it seems that every channel is completely oversaturated with dysfunction. From Love and Hip Hop to Bad Girls Club to Married to Medicine to The Bachelor to Dating Naked to The Real Housewives of literally everywhere........I could go on, but I just cant keep up with the Kardashians and the Kanye's and the Caitlyn's anymore. I'm over it ALL. But unfortunately, ratings have proven that watching the anarchy and chaos play out in other peoples personal lives happens to be addicting. When I was growing up (and when i say growing up, I mean old enough to watch MTV, lol) the realest we got to reality television was The Real World. And that's real. No pun intended. Lol. The Real World set the precedent for the concept of reality tv, but it also was one of the first shows of my generation to bring forth concrete real life discussions about alcoholism, domestic violence, homosexuality, suicide, and HIV. Now, whenever I turn on my cable all I see are strangers making out and random catfights. Yep. That about sums it up. That, and the Kardashian marathon. Again. *sigh* ....so, I started this blog segment to highlight the element of the opposite. By placing the spotlight on former, as well as current, images in television and film that educated us, and gave us a positive image to connect ourselves with on screen, as well as off, I hope to restore that feeling we felt when we watched, and reassure the hope of the audiences that tuned in.
I was debating on what my first post should be for "The Reel"...easily, I could talk about The Cosby Show and what it did for the image of the Black family.. easily I could talk about A Different World and what it did for the Black college experience, and EASILY I could talk about what Martin and Gina taught us about modern day Black relationships....but, timing is everything, and last night was one of the realest, most eye opening, educational moments I've seen on primetime television in a very long time, as my son and I sat down and watched the latest episode of Black-Ish, properly entitled "Hope". Black-Ish made a subtle but impactful presence on the Wednesday night lineup on ABC portraying what it means to be a Black family in a post millennial, social media constructed society, with a Black president. And it's very important they are here with us on Wednesday nights, because whether your Black experience is one of Claire Huxtable or Florida Evans, the struggles we face today have shifted, despite the fact that our struggles now and the ones in the past are all rooted in the same reflection of disparity. Black-Ish brings comedy and sheds light on all the daily stereotypes we deal with in 2016 whether at work, amongst neighbors, or within our own families, and how we cope.....together, as a unit. They have brought us back to what it felt to watch ourselves on television, and be proud. Let me say, I love everything Tracee Ellis Ross. Everything. We're best friends in my head, she just doesn't know it yet. Whether she's "Joan" or "Rainbow" she just brings this radiant energy to every single project she touches. She's confident, funny, intelligent, and embodies the diverse Black female experience as she gracefully embraces everything from her light skin to her thick curly afro right down to her big ole booty. She is slaying and straight serving up her Black Girl Magic, and I am here for every bit of it as she does it so unapologetically, and with a smile:) Last night Anthony Anderson literally had me in tears with his powerful performance, and their on screen chemistry is unmatched as they maneuver down this road of Black parenting in 2016. If you missed last night's episode, I highly recommend you catch it On Demand, grab your tissue, and your children, and hold them both close. I say that not because I'm a huge Tracee Ellis Ross fan, but most importantly, because Im a parent. The mother of an 8 year old son who asks me questions like "Mommy, whats going on? Why do I always see Black people so angry on tv? So, are ALL cops bad? And how do we know the good cops from the bad cops?" As someone who's good with words, most times, in these situations, I almost always come up short for answers. Because we all know children aren't born with a moral compass guided by race, those are characteristics and concepts that are taught. However, our kids are not oblivious to the fact that people are different and come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and as parents its up to us to help them find the beauty in that. You want to be positive and give them hope for the future but at the same time you want to be honest and not have them walking around blindfolded to their surroundings. As parents of children of color, we have to have the conversations with our kids that other parents don't. How to talk, How to act, How to dress, How to defend yourself, How to behave in public, How to interact with police, How to respect authority without disrespecting yourself and still living to see the next day, and how EVEN if you do all of those things right, to some people....everything about you will still be wrong. In 2016, your complexion, the way you dress, and even your name, can still be easily viewed as threatening and presenting just cause for retaliation. So how do we answer these questions? What do we say? And what age is appropriate? ..there's no right or wrong way to address these situations with our children, each family dynamic is different and requires different approaches. But without leaking any spoilers, let's just say that last night's episode will help bridge the gaps you keep finding in the conversations you want to have with your kids, but don't quite know how to have them. Thank you Black-Ish for reviving the image of African-American primetime television, for giving this generation something to identify with when we hear our parents and grandparents talk about the impact of the Huxtables, and for making us proud as well as making us laugh, in the triumphs and tragedies of the Post-Millennial Black experience.