Signs of the Times

posted in: Newsletter | 0

There is so much junk on mainstream television that I rarely watch it. Ron kind of hogs the tv anyway, watching as the American Pickers continue to unearth rusty motorcycle parts from weed-choked lots outside the barns of unsuspecting collectors, who inevitably don’t want to part with crap they didn’t even know they had. However, we happened upon a show the other night that really impressed me: Blackish. This is a comedy about a family of wealthy Black professionals, and this week’s show dealt directly with the aftermath of the election.

In this episode the couple and the liberal community in which they live are trying to get over the election loss of Hillary. Rainbow, the MD wife, is putting her efforts into supporting NPR and liberal causes. The children get a day off from their independent school after several incidents of bullying of foreigners occurred there. And Dre, an advertising exec, deals with co-workers too demoralized to get any work done. 

As the members of Dre’s agency (including my favorite, Wanda Sykes) sit around a conference table struggling to get some work done, the subject of the election continues to rear its ugly head. They simply cannot get past the rise of Donald Trump and how in the world this happened. Wanda Sykes wonders aloud how so many white women did not support Hillary. She explains that when Blacks had a chance to elect the first Black President, they turned out in record numbers, yet white women voted for a misogynist.

The straight-laced white female at the table admits she voted for Trump. Wanda has to be restrained as she kicks out with her stilettos trying to attack the traitor! Others around the table cannot get over the fact that someone they do not consider an idiot actually voted for Trump. How could she??

The woman defends herself, explaining that while she did not really like Trump, and admits he is a sleaze, she didn’t trust Hillary. “I want a woman President, but not her,” she says. She points to the questions raised continually during the election: the emails, the Clinton charitable fund, high speaking fees. “At least I know where Trump stands,” she states.

The boss’s son, a Young Republican, accuses Dre of not loving his country because he is critical of the elected leader. Dre delivers a well-crafted argument about how after generations of racism in this country, he still plays by the rules and has made a life for himself and his family. “Don’t ever accuse me of not loving my country!”

I was impressed by how directly this mainstream comedy dealt with the serious issues facing our country. I admired Meryl Streep’s rant at the Golden Globes, but Blackish was even more pointed in its questioning of the selection of Trump and its fallout. I identify with Rainbow as she looks for ways to support organizations that might be on the firing line in years to come. I also stand with the message that we must not allow ourselves to line up against each other, but we must find ways to support each other.

I am reminded of a story told by my friend Ruth Pittard. She talks to everyone. Recently she was waiting to buy fresh ginger in a long line at Walmart behind a man in a red “Make America Great Again” cap. She engaged him in a conversation about why he likes Trump and gently explained her position. By the time they both checked out, the man hugged Ruth and paid for her ginger. He didn’t take off his cap and throw it in the garbage, but her heard her, and they had both taken a step closer to each other.

We need to be find a way to look past our differences and find ways to connect. The next four years are going to be unpredictable and trying, and we are going to need each other.