OPINION: UNITED-ISH

India Kirssin | Managing Editor

I have been a fan of the ABC show “Blackish” since it began two years ago, watching it for its humor, its all-star cast, and its ability to discuss national issues in its own wonderful way.

The show follows the lives of the Johnson family, an African-American family living in upper-middle class America. Dre is the hotshot ad firm patriarch, Rainbow is a doctor and supermom, and Zoe, Junior, Jack and Diane are their four kids. The show also includes Dre’s parents Pops and Ruby.

Since “Blackish” aired in 2014, it has tackled racism, police brutality, gun control, the N-word, and, most recently, Trump. While many have criticized the show and its creators for being too assertive too controversial, I have thoroughly enjoyed every “controversial” episode more than the last.

The show waited until January 11 to air its post-election episode, titled “Lemons,” in a genius move that allowed the immediate animosity of November 8 to simmer. It also made way for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in its narrative, weaving in a story of hardship and love, while also reminding us of our mistakes of the past.

The episode dissects how the election has changed attitudes around the (pro-Clinton) Johnson household, the kid’s school, and Dre’s advertising firm. It also includes Junior and Pops talking about Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech and what happens when our eyes are opened to the true messages of the past.

It also asks the question: What happens when the winners and the losers are supposed to be on the same team?

In its main plot point, “Blackish” brings us a discussion for the ages, carried out at Dre’s firm between four black Hillary voters, one white woman who voted for Trump after voting for Obama both times, and a white man who usually votes Republican but couldn’t get on board the Trump train. Many different groups and viewpoints were represented in the tense argument, but Dre remained silent throughout, until his boss asked him why he doesn’t care about our country.

“What did you just ask me?” Dre said, before starting a heartfelt, painfully truthful monologue with, “I love this country, even though at times it doesn’t love me back.” This left me thinking about our humanity long after I had shut the TV off.

This is why the show has had so much success. I have never felt pressured into thinking a certain way, or terrible about my beliefs because of it. It has always presented and respected both sides, even when things are dicey. Every controversial topic is inclusive to all opinions and ideas, as each Johnson generation shares views based on the world they know, creating a relatable viewpoint for anyone watching from their living room, debating how they can relay these topics within their own families.

Between its powerful, realistic topic, timing, and representation, I would dare to say “Lemons” is an instant classic. I wish more shows would try to tackle issues the American people need to be talking about, but I’m not sure any would be able to do it as well as “Blackish” just did.

Here’s my take away from “Lemons” and an important message to keep in mind as we move forward: we may be divided on our new president, but we can not let that be an excuse for us to resort to hate. Hate helps no one. Let’s begin to build the bridges we’ve burned and continue on with life.

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