Well, it was only a matter of time before an -ish series went there. “There” being a Black Lives Matter storyline on Freeform’s grown-ish (a spinoff of the racist ABC show black-ish) depicting cops as racist predators in a system that is “determined to destroy” innocent black people who have “targets on (their) backs.” There was also some racism towards white people thrown in, just for fun, as one character states, “white people are inherently bad.” And even a serious line about how hurricanes “statistically target black neighborhoods.” Yes, really.
Wednesday’s episode, “A Boy Is a Gun” opens with Doug (Diggy Simmons) out for a jog in Los Angeles and purchasing a sports drink at a convenience store, only for this to be juxtaposed with another young, black man in Virginia coming out of a store who is confronted by police with guns drawn and ends up being shot despite having his hands in the air and cooperating fully with police, a tragic situation that doesn’t resemble any cases that Black Lives Matter has championed in real life whatsoever:
The fallout from the shooting is felt deeply at Cal U where grown-ish takes place. However, Doug is more concerned about promoting his party, which doesn’t sit well with the rest of his friends.
Student Kiela/Kiki (Daniella Perkins) confronts Doug about his complacency, asking, “Do you not even watch the news? Uh, have you not heard about the racist-ass cops who murdered another man in Virginia?” Doug appears nonchalant and says posting hashtags isn’t going to make a difference anyway.
At the party, Doug faces more heat as his friends confront him, saying, “I thought you were down to support the justice of an innocent black man.” Doug explains he doesn’t want to “ruin people’s mood by talking about some poor black kid who got killed by the cops.” It’s at that point that Doug is called a “bad black person.”
As a discussion ensues about what it means to be a “bad black person,” on another side of the room, Javi (Henri Esteve) asks Vivek (Jordan Buhat) if his friends ever talk about other things like sports and the weather. Javi answers, “Only if it's about how college athletes are notoriously undervalued and exploited, or how hurricanes statistically target black neighborhoods.” #facepalm
We’re then treated to some lovely racism towards white people who are called “inherently bad” and accused of still wanting to keep black people in chains:
Jazz: Guys, this is really crazy. Why are we having this discussion about bad black people and arguing with each other, when we all know white people aren't sitting around discussing whether or not they're a good white person?
Aaron: That's 'cause white people are inherently bad. Not you, though. You're fine.
Nomi: Yes. Thank you for that.
Nomi: Jazz is right, you guys. I mean, I've never had to question whether or not I'm being a good white person.
Doug: Exactly. Why would you, when the system was designed to work for you and against me? I mean, there's no point in me trying to change something that they would never allow me to fix.
Aaron: Okay. It is unbelievable to me how cynical you're being about this whole thing, man. Of course they're not gonna "allow" us to change shit. They haven't "allowed" us to do anything for 400 years. We had to take it. That's why it's our job to push back against the walls they try to put up around us.
Kiki: Yes! Okay, thank you. Again.
Aaron: Imagine if our black ancestors had just waited for white people to fix their broken system. Do you realize how little advancement and progress we would have achieved as a people?
Kiki: No emancipation.
Aaron: No emancipation, no black renaissance, no black power, no civil rights. We definitely wouldn't be here at Cal U talking about it. Shit, we might still be in chains.
Doug: Alright, I hear you, bro, but at the end of the day, this college degree, a high-paying job, a seat at the front of the bus, our freedom, bro -- it doesn't matter if we still have these targets on our backs. You get what I'm saying?
Luca: Okay, then, what's the alternative? Just give up?
Zoey: Damn. Oh, my God. I can't believe this. The cops that killed Marcus Jennings are getting paid leave. There are no charges being brought against them.
Aaron: It's unbelievable, man.
Doug: Is it? Is it?
Kiki: Well... You know, I-I guess you were right. None of this matters. Enjoy your party.
Kiki later apologizes to Doug, saying she can’t believe she was naive enough to believe she could change things and tells him he was right. Doug becomes emotional saying he doesn’t want to be right.
“When I see the news of, you know, all these black men dying, all I can do is think about, you know, how I'm just like them. You know, I was just a dude who was out for a run. You know, Marcus Jennings, he just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. So, the truth is, for -- for black men or, shit, black women or black people, is that any place is the wrong place. At any time, every damn day.”
Doug continues through tears that he tries to block it all out as a means of survival, adding, “Trust me, it's not that I don't care. I just feel like I gotta push all this shit to the back of my mind, you know, so I'm not paralyzed. So, I don't break.” That fear, sadly, is the only true part of this whole episode. It’s what sells headlines and gets views for crap shows like this, all on the backs of those who must unnecessarily live with such real fear because Hollywood and the media profit off of it and constantly push it onto the public.
Suddenly, the students see news of another innocent black man who was shot and killed by police, which spurs Doug on to take a stand after all:
♪ I say hey, sunshine ♪
Reporter: After an anonymous...
♪ Oh, how the day can be so long ♪
Luca: Oh, my God. Another one?
♪ Hey, sunshine, Oh, how the day can be so long. I say, hey, America, you need a miracle, Beyond spiritual. I need a realer view. I hold a mirror to it. These ain't new problems, they just old ways. I see one time turn sunshine into Freddie Gray ♪
Zoey (voiceover): In a world where the system designed to protect us feels more like a force determined to destroy us, it's impossible to avoid the fatigue of the insurmountable challenges we face as a community. But when it happens again and again and again, there comes a point where you can't block it out or turn a blind eye. And after witnessing yet another senseless murder of another innocent black man within a week of the last, Doug had finally reached his breaking point.
Female reporter: The fact that yet another unarmed black teen life has been taken at the hands of the police. This is the second such incident within a week of each other. As you are probably aware, a teen, Marcus Jennings...
Doug: Forget everything I said, bro. It's time to push back.
The show ends with a screen that reads, “Remember Their Names,” and then lists supposedly innocent black people killed by police. But the list includes names like Michael Brown and Ma'Khia Bryant, who was shot because she was attempting to stab another black woman, and others who were resisting arrest and/or fighting with police. There are also names of people who weren’t even shot by police such as Sandra Bland and Trayvon Martin. The last screen just repeats all of the names, which disingenuously makes it appear like there are many more names than there really are.
If the scenario depicted in this episode had truly happened, this entire country, every race, would be up in arms demanding justice, as was the case with George Floyd, and the officers involved would have been held fully accountable. If this show must resort to being so duplicitous and create an unrealistic storyline to support their cause, do they really have anything to truly “push back” against?
And if all of these claims were true, if police were all really evil racists out to destroy innocent black people, wouldn’t the list of names be endless and not need to include justified shootings and situations that weren’t police shootings at all added to it to make it look longer?
Unfortunately, this is a two-part episode, so we need to brace ourselves for more fearmongering and racial division next week, sadly.
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