(Editor's Note: Due to technical difficulties, our review of last Tuesday's episode of black-ish was delayed.)
In last week's episode, “Young, Gifted and Black,” the show claimed that predominantly white private schools are automatically racist and “come at a cost” to black students and parents. If a black child isn’t allowed into honors math, is disruptive, or is singled out for causing trouble, the reason must always be racism. As if none of those things ever happens to white students.
At the beginning of the episode, Dre (Anthony Anderson) and Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) are told their son Devante (Berlin and August Gross) is not keeping up with his peers. They decide to “go to war” with the school for being racist before they know anything about the situation:
Dre (Voiceover): In America, education is the path to prosperity. The problem is, for centuries, it was often denied to black people. We were sent to crumbling, segregated schools, and even now, many of our schools are in crisis or underfunded. That's why when I had kids, I was determined to give them the best education possible. So, we put them in private school...Valley Glen Prep. - the kind of school that senators, CEOs, and Ashton Kutcher send their kids to. But private school comes with some trade-offs, like being among only a handful of black families. So, we had to stay ready to go to war for our kids.
Dre: Well, they're not letting Zoey in honors math.
Bow: You know what that means. I'm about to solve for an ass-whupping. So, they all did it, but Junior is the only one who got in trouble? Pff!
Dre: He won't be the only one in trouble now. Today's menu...Knuckle sandwiches. Oh, they say Jack's being disruptive! We gotta go down there.
Bow: Someone's about to cut class.
Dre (Voiceover): Sure, it's never easy to always have your guard up, but that's the sacrifice you make. But with our last Johnson child starting at the school, we were hopeful that we would be able to put our shields and swords away.
Bow: This is an e-mail from the school. They are worried that Devante is not keeping up with his peers.
Dre (Voiceover): But I guess today is not the day.
Dre: I just watched "Karate Kid" last night, babe. I'm ready.
It’s extremely distasteful to have a character joke about “cut(ting) class,” while waving a sword in the air when you consider the tragic violence that’s taken place in our nation’s schools. It’s equally egregious to joke about using violence to fight supposed racism, as well.
When Dre’s parents find out about the upcoming conference, his mother proclaims, “See, too often, these schools come up with reasons to separate our children from the other kids.”
And ignorantly his father said, “They’re already trying to put him in the system.”
The show almost redeemed itself when Dre and Bow discover that Devante writes his “Ds” backwards, but instead, they claim that everyone is “sitting around judging” them and that the school has “just been waiting around to tear down a black family with five kids":
Bow: Here it is...The scarlet letter.
Dre: Oh, no, babe. This is worse than "The Scarlet Letter." At least with a backwards "A," it's still an "A."
Bow: This is not a good look, Dre. There's not enough black families at the school for this to happen. They're all sitting around judging us, thinking that we don't read to our son, that we let the TV raise him.
Dre: I feel like this school has just been waiting around to tear down a black family with five kids who all have no jump-shot.
Dre: Devante cannot finish last in his class.
Bow: No. Please, no.
Dre: Alright? We've got to bring him up to speed for that "All About My Family" project that they're gonna put on display at the Open House.
Dre: And we're taking no shortcuts. We're gonna stay on top of Devante until he's like that little girl with the crossover who won the spelling bee.
Bow: 100%. We will divert resources from some of our other kids.
Dre: That's fine. We were going to regret Diane learning so much Russian anyway.
Bow: Oh, hell yes. That child is frightening.
Determined to have Devante be the best, Dre ends up completing the school project himself, which leads the principal to question Bow and Dre about it separately:
Ms. Biggsy: Mr. Johnson, that's the third time you've done that. Let's get this over with.
Dre: You're barking up the wrong tree, Biggsy. Alright? The Johnson family clan is clean.
Ms. Biggsy: Now, I'm not accusing you of anything. I just have one question, Mr. Johnson. Did you draw that picture?
Dre: Pfft, did I draw that picture.
Ms. Biggsy: Mr. Johnson...
Dre: You've got to understand. We're under so much pressure here. Devante can't be the black kid that's left behind. You know how these people are at this school! They look at us differently! It's not fair! We're always under the microscope. Well, I'm gonna put you under the microscope. I am gonna call out this institution. You can't kick us out. We quit.
Bow: Hey. How'd it go?
Dre: Good. Good. We're gonna have to find our kids a new school to go to.
So, this is supposed to be a racist school, but they hired a black principal? Okay. Could it be that no one is really out to get the Johnson family and that the only people putting them “under the microscope” are themselves?
By the episode’s end, Dre and Bow decide to keep Devante in the school and “live with the tradeoffs":
Dre: All I know is that we've been playing defense since our kids have been in school. Bow, I'm tired.
Bow: I'm tired, too. I mean, it's not just school. It just feels like it's happening a lot lately. Mm. We're on the defensive at work and with the neighbors. It's just like, I can't remember the last time we didn't have our guard up.
Dre: We didn't when we were with Michelle Obama, and that was fun.
Bow: That was so much fun. And it was easy. And it didn't feel like all the eyes were on us. We could just be.
Dre: Can't do that here. At this school, there's no anonymity. Everyone knows that we're the black family.
Bow: Yeah. So, what do we do?
Dre: What? About Devante in school?
Dre: We do what we did with the other kids. We live with the trade-offs.
Bow: I guess. I mean, we didn't have to make such a big deal out of this. It was only a backwards "D."
Dre: Yeah, we definitely could have handled that differently. Oh, boy. I called Biggsy a cop and knocked over a janitor's bucket.
Bow: She's a Black lady principal who gets mistaken for the lunch lady, so I'm sure she can understand how hard this place is, right? I don't know. Dre, I guess this is what we have to do to give our kids the best.
Bow: Hmm. Should we just keep them here?
Dre: Yeah, but let's tell Biggsy tomorrow. I told her I wasn't playing. If we go back too soon, she'll know that I was playing.
Dre: Come on. Let's go.
Dre (Voiceover): There is no perfect solution for where to send our kids to school. We want to give them every advantage. But sometimes, that comes at a cost, even to us.
Why would it be bad if everyone knows they’re the black family? Why not be proud of who they are and not assume everyone is seeing their race as something negative? Maybe they’re tired from being overly woke. Maybe they’re exhausted from assuming without proof or even any evidence that everyone around them is a racist who’s out to get them and that there’s a racial motive behind every problem.
Of course racism exists. Racism is evil, and we strongly condemn it. But this episode’s messaging isn’t anti-racist. It’s dangerous. It will worsen the racial divide in an already divisive climate and stir up hatred. That’s not “white fragility” speaking, as the woke left likes to claim anytime their faulty narrative is challenged. It’s just the plain truth.
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