‘Black-ish’ Creator Opens Up About Last Night’s Police Violence Episode

By Sameer Rao Feb 25, 2016

ABC’s acclaimed family comedy "Black-ish" caught the world’s attention with last night’s (February 24) episode, which centered on police brutality and racism. "I have never been as afraid about an episode of television that I’ve written in my life," show creator Kenya Barris confessed to The Washington Post.

"Hope," the promo for which you can see above, explores the multigenerational Johnson family’s response to a news report about a case involving police assault of a Black teen and the protests that errupted after a decision not to indict the officers. After the family’s young twins (Marsai Martin, Miles Brown) ask what’s going on, parents Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) and Dre (Anthony Anderson) disagree about how to talk with them about the case. Dre’s parents Pops (Laurence Fishburne) and Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) weigh in, with Pops saying, "I’m old enough to know when I’m hearing the same story told a different way." Meanwhile, Dre and Rainbow’s teenagers Zoey (Yara Shahidi) and Junior (Marcus Scribner) handle the news in their own ways, with Junior referencing Ta-Nehisi Coates’ "Between the World and Me." 

Barris said that a line from one of the twins, "Why are all these people so mad?" came verbatim from his own then-7-year-old son’s response to coverage of the 2014 Ferguson verdict. But despite its subject matter, Barris said that he doesn’t consider the episode a "Black Lives Matter" vehicle: 

"I’m supportive of that movement," he said. "My personal politics are not part of this particular episode. I don’t want to ostracize anyone or limit anyone’s entry point into enjoying this." 

He ultimately hopes that the episode provokes conversation: 

"I want people to honestly just start a conversation within their homes, with their friends, with people at their school," he said. "And laugh. I hope there’s enough humor in there to make people laugh."

Check out the promo for "Hope" above, and watch the episode at ABC.com (requires TV provider sign-in).