Kenya Barris is a creative genius. What he’s managed to deliver with a show like Black-ish is smart, timely, and very necessary.
On Black-ish, the Johnson family defies, questions, and challenges traditional tropes and stereotypes frequently seen in the Black community while individually navigating the settings they take space in and move through on a regular basis. In each episode, the show tackles issues with a playful and sometimes serious approach by giving viewers an opportunity to see what life is like through the view of a Black family and the everyday challenges that can come with that. Yes, the Johnson’s are well off, but not immune to injustices, bias, and navigating the world of assimilation while challenging their own beliefs and the beliefs strongly held by those around them who may be heavily uninformed and out-of-touch with reality about challenges that people of color deal with on a regular basis.
The show does an excellent job of establishing and delivering authentic examples and relatable experiences of what a thriving, modern Black family can be. For many, Dre and Rainbow Johnson might be the epitome of #BlackLove. They’re married, college educated, great friends and partners to one another, have incredible career opportunities (Dre is a successful advertising executive while Rainbow is a brilliant doctor), and as a team, work hard to raise, provide, and support their five children. Dre and Rainbow often encourage their children to fully love and embrace who they are and their culture while also teaching and reminding them of the challenges that await them in the real world. It’s important to see a couple like Dre and Rainbow and their family structure in the mainstream world, because in Black families, there aren’t always couples who set the same example as they are. Frequently, statistics have shown that many Black children are growing up in homes without both parents and instead are being raised by a single parent.
Another thing Black-ish does a great job with is developing creative storytelling to communicate with different races who may not be fully informed about Black culture. The direction and delivery from the show is effective, wildly funny, mildly uncomfortable at times, and yet educational and informative in ways that provide critical messages to us all to stay woke about different things happening in the world. Not just for Black culture, but for different cultures across the board. It’s important for us all to see, learn, and know how we all move, live, and interact with one another in different ways. And in turn, try to empathize and understand what marginalized groups go through when faced with different challenges like racism, stereotypes, microaggressions, hate, socio-economic disadvantages, and more.
With a show like Black–ish in syndication, we’re not only informed, but we can also take a walk in someone else’s shoes while being entertained and educated about vital issues and things to know about Black culture and how we can all keep learning and growing in the process.