Petition Demands ABC Air ‘Black-ish’ Episode on Athlete Protests

By Sameer Rao May 31, 2018

ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey called Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett "inconsistent with our values" when she announced the cancellation of "Roseanne" on Tuesday (May 29). Color of Change now calls on Dungey’s employer to model those values. 

rntThe racial justice organization called on ABC and Disney, its parent company, to air a previously shelved episode of "Black-ish" that dealt with athletes’ protests against racist police violence

"ABC barred ‘Black-ish’ from airing an episode about Black NFL players’ #TakeTheKnee movement while greenlighting Roseanne Barr’s Trump-centered television show—despite warnings about Roseanne’s history of racism and Islamophobia," reads a May 29 petition from Color of Change. "Now, ‘Roseanne’ has been canceled after mass outrage, and ABC is patting themselves on the back for taking the show off the air—even though they still won’t let the protest-centered ‘Black-ish’ episode air. It’s clear that the network has chosen a side—they were happily signing checks for a Trump supporter who trades in bigotry while suppressing nuanced discussion of one of the most urgent issues of our day."

Variety broke the news about the episode in February, and both an anonymous ABC spokesperson and "Black-ish" creator Kenya Barris attributed the decision to unspecified "creative differences."

“Given our creative differences, neither ABC nor I were happy with the direction of the episode and mutually agreed not to air it,” Barris told Variety. “‘Black-ish’ is a show that has spoken to all different types of people and brought them closer as a community and I’m so proud of the series.”

Anonymous sources told The New York Times in April that the conflict, among other disagreements, prompted Barris to attempt an exit from his contract with the network. Dungey did not confirm or deny any planned departure to The Hollywood Reporter, but did say that the episode’s subject matter had little to do with the episode being pulled:


With this particular episode, there were a number of different elements to the episode that we had a hard time coming to terms on. Much has been made about the kneeling part of it, which was not even really the issue, but I don’t want to get into that. At the end of the day, this was a mutual decision between Kenya and the network to not put the episode out.