This week’s episode of Black*ish has a lot people talking, and others complaining about the content. The response to the episode, “Lemons,” has been split along racial lines on social medial. Black people and other non-white ethnic groups seem to be in agreement with Dre and his family’s response to the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election. White people have expressed dissatisfaction over the episode. For them, it was “too political,” not what a sitcom is supposed to be about. They believed it was inappropriate for the writers to use the show as their platform to express their political views. Others took the opportunity to remind the masses that their candidate lost, Trump won, and the losers needed shut up and bow down to the President-Elect. (I’m paraphrasing.)
In all of the side conversation about what the writers should and shouldn’t have done with the show, who won and lost, and who wouldn’t watch the show anymore because they were upset that the discussion of politics unexpectedly assaulted their virgin eyes and ears, viewers missed two important questions that were asked during the episode.
The first question being: What happens when the winners and losers are supposed to be on the same side? In the on going discussion about who won and who lost, we are ignoring the fact that every person that voted IS AMERICAN. Regardless of who sits in office, We the People are on the same team. Whether anyone wants to acknowledge it or not, the last 8 years have unveiled the vile, racists attitudes that still exist in our country. People were not upset that democrat was in office. They were upset that a Black man was in office. We watched as Senate dug their heels in and did very little to work with Barack Obama, even to withholding consent of his appointment of a vacant Chief Justice seat before he left office. They forgot that they worked for the American people, a collection of individuals who are not one ethnicity, one religion, all male or a hive mind. If you want to know what happens when winners and losers are supposed to be on the same side but don’t act like it, take an unbiased look at the last eight years.
It was the second question, which is main focus of discussion, that hit me. Actually, it was one word in the question that grated at me: Why don’t you care about what’s happening to our country? To be fair, during the episode, no emphasis was put on the word “our.” But that word holds so much weight in the context of the conversation. We’ve heard this question before, though the wording slightly different. During the 2008 Presidential election CNN posted a poll asking if President Elect Barack Obama showed the proper patriotism for someone who wanted to be president. The Associated Press even reported a smear campaign questioning his patriotism that, among other things, pointed out that he stopped wearing an American flag pin on his lapel. Clearly, this was a sign that he was anti-American, right? But how could someone be a senator and not have a care for the country? The question posed by CNN didn’t seem to make sense. Allow me to help you read between the lines of that question: Can a Black man care about America after the horrible things America has done to black people? Why don’t you care about our country, isn’t an inclusive question. The question implies exclusivity. It implies that one group cares more about America than the other. It implies that one group has ownership and allows the other group to be in attendance, and that the other group should exhibit gratefulness by caring in a specific way. The question assumes that the blood shed by the non-exclusive group’s forefathers has no real value and doesn’t count as patriotism.
Dre responded to the question eloquently. I wish he’d hit a little harder in his response. I wish he’d reminded everyone in that scene why Michele Obama said, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country. Not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. I’ve been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and not just feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment.” I wish he’d gotten into why she said, “…we are feeling what not having hope feels like.” Those feelings have nothing to do with the lack of patriotism that black people have now, or have had in the past. There is a legitimate concern that the mindset and attitude of this country as a whole is turning back by about 50 years, and during that time, Black people and other non-whites were not treated like Americans. This episode of Black*ish simply asked America to open it’s eyes to that. Step into your fellow Americans’ shoes and have a care about what they care about. That’s where TRUE patriotism begins. It’s not in the anthems we sing in rote without considering the context, or waving the American flag, or reciting the pledge. Those things or symbolic. Tell me, if those symbols were banned, would you be any less American?
At this point, it really doesn’t matter who sits in The Oval Office. The winners and losers have been determined. There’s work to be to done to move the country forward. What should happen when the winners and losers are on the same side? We should work together to keep OUR country moving forward.