The black-ish season premiere finally happened! Also, it was awesome. (Obviously.) black-ish is one of the best shows on television, and the premiere definitely reinforced that by fearlessly diving into a topic that most people aren't very comfortable talking about in any setting, let alone with a helathy dose of comedy: THE word.
You know which one we mean. If you don't, this clip should clear it up for you:
Dre and His Coworkers: What Words are OK?|The NAACP and the United Negro College fund aren't making this easy.|Dre, Charlie and Curtis are discussing the fact that Dre can't say THE word in his own house. Josh wants to know if "African-American" is OK to say. Dre says it's fine, but you can just say "black." Mr. Stevens wants to say "colored," but that is a no-no. (Our standard for "no-no" here is a word that makes Charlie pull out his gun and slap it down on the conference table.) However, everyone agrees that the NAACP (the "C" is for "Colored") definitely sends a mixed message. "Negro" also gets Charlie's no-no treatment, though Mr. Stevens notes that someone should tell the United Negro College Fund. From the season 2 premiere of black-ish.
This all came about when Jack was performing Kanye West's "Gold Digger" during a school talent show. The hook of the song includes THE word, and innocent little Jack belted it out like it was no big deal. Except that it was to all the adults present -- Jack was even in danger of being expelled.
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Bow was horrified, because she finds the word hateful and ugly. Dre was angry too -- because he felt it was Jack's birthright to be able to say that word, thanks to his skin color. Pops agreed with Bow -- although it also turned out that he still used it from time to time.
It seemed like an open-and-closed type of case: Either it's a word people use, or one they don't. But it's never that simple, and at every turn, the issue got more complicated as everyone's relationship with that word was different. Here's Dre discussing the issue with Pops and Zoey:
Dre's Family on THE Word|Pops and Zoey weigh in with vastly different takes on the issue.|Dre considers that maybe he's too focused on defending THE word, until Zoey says that her friends say it all the time -- her white friends. Dre and Pops don't understand that at all, but Zoey believes that because they don't say it with the hatred the word connotes, that it's rendered just a word without the same power. Either way, Dre doesn't like it. From the season 2 premiere of black-ish.
A System to Decide Who Can Say THE Word|Yeeeah...this isn't exactly scientific.|Curtis and Charlie are determined to create a coherent system for who should be allowed to say THE word. They try to walk everyone in Dre's office through it, but it's riddled with exceptions and very complicated and rather haphazard rules. (Charlie: "Bill Clinton probably shouldn't use it. But I wouldn't be crazy mad if he did.") From the season 2 premiere of black-ish.
In the end, Dre and Bow argued that "this whole country has been schizophrenic about what to call black people for two centuries. And the last person who should be held accountable for it is an 8-year-old boy who doesn't have an ounce of hate in his heart." Jack was reinstated and only got suspended, rather than expelled, and the Johnsons were thrilled about a suspension for what we're sure they hope if the first and last time.
Watch black-ish ABC WEDNESDAYS 9:30|8:30c.