Black History Month is typically the month that active learning about all of the Activists, Inventors, and Public Figures takes place, but let’s not forget about those who changed the history of television! The African American presence on television has not only been entertaining but influential for the black community. The depiction of how black people have been portrayed was extremely important to the culture. “I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me; and I’m like nobody else.” -Lena Horne
Black-ish Has Come to an End
On Tuesday, April 19, 2022 after eight seasons of crying, laughing, celebrating, and learning, we had to say goodbye to one of our favorite TV family’s the Johnson’s. We watched the impactful series finale of Black-ish a sitcom that entered our lives in 2014, starring Anthony Anderson (Dre Johnson), Tracee Ellis Ross (Rainbow Johnson), Yara Shahidi (Zoey Johnson), Marsai Martin (Diane Johnson), Marcus Scribber (Andre Johnson, Jr), Miles Brown (Jack Johnson), Jenifer Lewis (Ruby Johnson) and Laurence Fishburne (Pops). This show like many other shows throughout the years making appearances by celebrities, showed the importance of ownership, parenting, fashion, HBCU’s and racial controversy.
Many celebrities over the years have had cameos on television which contributed to their success. Fresh Prince of Bel Air, The Cosby Show and Martin are three shows that paved the way for many careers of celebrities. Including athletes, music artists, and stand up comedians. There was truly an appreciation of seeing Music Artists on television. Intertwining the Hip Hop culture and showing the artist in a positive and relatable light. This tradition was continued throughout the years on Black-ish. Over the seasons we had the privilege of seeing former First Lady Michelle Obama, Zendaya, Mary J. Blige, Raven-Symone, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Joel McHale, Tyra Banks, Michael Strahan, Aloe Blacc and of course the unforgettable reunion in season 6 with the cast members of Girlfriends.
Being able to see Black people owning and operating businesses on your television screen such as “The Jamie Foxx Show,” instilling generational wealth by having a Hotel as their family business. George Jefferson from “The Jeffersons,” was a millionaire that owned several Dry Cleaners. Thanks to the creators of “The Cosby Show,” “Girlfriends,” “Empire,” “Family Matters,” “The Game,” “The Steve Harvey Show,” etc. We had the privilege of seeing Doctors, Lawyers, Judges, Music Moguls, Police Officers, Club Owners, Professional Star Athletes, Teachers, etc. On these various shows starring African Americans exuding black excellence and giving people throughout the nation hope to accomplish whatever they wanted in life.
There is no such thing as a universal parenting style. We have all heard there isn’t a book on how to parent. Yes, there are guides that can assist you. But just because one method worked for one doesn’t mean it will be the same for the other child(ren). Although, households are not structured the same.
Many people could relate to what they saw on television. Black-ish not only showed the dynamic of a two parent household but it also included the parents of (Anthony Anderson).
Shows like “227,” “Good Times,” “Moesha,” “Different Strokes, and “Hanging With Mr. Cooper,” to name a few. Are also shows that provided things they went through raising Black children. For instance how Junior wasn’t doing well on the loss of his girlfriend.
Pop’s parenting style included throwing his phone. He told Dre how he should handle it wasn’t about being compassionate. Do we agree that men are not allowed to be vulnerable?
This final episode you will see (his son) teach a very important lesson, one thing that Pops didn’t agree with. The reality of it is how different Pops was raised by his father which is what happens in a lot of families. This is exactly why parenting styles differ because everyone’s upbringing isn’t the same. However, the bonding experience that they had on their Man’s Trip allowed them to break walls and connect in a way they never had before.
Unconsciously, many people have created their entire wardrobe based on the favorite characters style. From how to rock your overralls, hats and turning a school uniform jacket inside out by looking at Will Smith on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”
To realizing that a coat can be a fashion statement in and of itself, thanks to Kerry Washington and all of the fierce coats and fashion she wore as Olivia Pope on “Scandal” over the years. FUBU, Tribe Vibe, Miskeen, Karl Kani, and other black-owned clothing lines, as well as Hip Hop artists, are true trendsetters who have always created the wave of what our community wore.
To say the least cast of Black-ish did not let their audience down over the years as fashion icons. For instance, Rainbow Johnson throughout the years graced our screens as a style icon with some amazing fashion statements. Bo has been seen in scrubs, pajamas, dresses, rompers, jeans, sweats, loose fitting dress pants, etc.
Presence of HBCU’s
Hillman College was a fictitious Historically Black College on the show “A Different World.” This television starring Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison, Darryl M. Bell, Dawnn Lewis, Lisa Bonet, Charnele Brown, Cree Summer, Glynn Tuman, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lou Myers and Sinbad. Allowed viewers from the comfort of their own homes to get a taste of the HBCU experience. This show amplified the beauty of various complexions of African Americans, Sororities and Fraternities. “A Different World,” also showed the richness of educated Black People and the Black College experience. It also created a pathway for shows like “Grown-ish” and “The Quad.” Seeing this made it realistic for us to believe that going to college was achievable even if you weren’t a “genius” like T.J. Henderson (Tahj Mowry) on the sitcom “Smart Guy” or Franklin Mumford (Noah Gray-Cabey).
In this final episode Jack expressed interest in attending Morehouse College. In Season 4 Junior gets accepted to Howard University which is his father’s alma mater. Which took the visibility of HBCUs to another level. This episode not only gave the audience the opportunity to hear about how great of a college Howard University is. When Dre took Junior to visit the campus and it allowed the audience to see the actual campus as well as gave them the HBCU experience.
Black Television shows aren’t just about entertainment. They have over the years addressed various controversial events and topics that effected the Black community in America. From Police Brutality, Single Parenting, Drugs, Gang Violence, Blended Families, Racism, etc., Black-ish included.
One thing we have always been as a culture are Trendsetters and TV star Issa Rae went viral during an interview with Variety at the 2017 Emmys that HBO MAX adapted. HBO Max went on record that they are “rooting for everybody Black.” Scene in Black is their latest social-first audience initiative. Their intent with Scene in Black is to amplify Black voices. Jackie Gagne, HBO Max & HBO’s SVP has been quoted for saying. Scene in Black isn’t just to see Black Actors and Actresses but it exemplifies the Writers, Directors, Producers, and other individuals involved in film behind the scenes. This itself is a testament to the influence that Black Actors have had over the decades on television.
Saying goodbye over the years to television family’s is difficult however the beauty is being able to watch how everyone changes throughout the seasons. Black-ish ends with a beautiful montage of the growth of the twins over the years. Congratulations to the cast and crew for eight successful seasons of Black-ish!