Facebook/Black-ish

Things don't go well when a new exec comes in and starts questioning Dre's street cred.

Mekeisha Madden Toby
Apr, 23, 2015

From the time Black-ish debuted, the hilarious ABC sitcom has deconstructed what it means to be Black in America.

In the pilot, for instance, Dre worried that his eldest son wasn’t Black enough because he didn’t play basketball and wanted a bar mitzvah. But when Black-ish aired Wednesday, it was Dre who was questioning his own Blackness and wondering if he had sold out in an installment titled “Switch Hitting.” What a difference 20 episodes can make.

Dre’s confidence in his Blackness got rattled when a client named Jay (guest star Michael Rapaport) sought out Dre’s advertising firm in order to attract more Black or urban clients for his company. But Dre failed Jay’s handshake test when the two initially met—Dre did a straight handshake instead of the elaborate dap Jay wanted—and things only devolved from there.

 

Suddenly, Dre found himself on the defensive as Jay scrutinized his every action and quickly labeled him “corny.” But like Dre said, sometimes Black people in corporate settings have to work so hard to maintain duel identities (mainstream self vs. authentic self) that things have the potential to get awkward. Now, there are those who are able to wear the mask Dunbar schooled us on and take it off with ease like President Obama and then there are those who get too Black too fast. The Black-ish example was TV reporter and YouTube star Isiah Carey. Too funny!

 

But through it all, such dualities never overshadow the fact that there are a lot of ways to be Black and racially monolithic expectations are as silly as they are antiquated. Unfortunately for Dre, he had to suffer through a lot of comedic posturing and pretending before he realized the error of his ways. Pops even had to step in and concede that being able to thrive in White America and keep it real at home is an impressive and beneficial skill that had helped Dre get a palatial house in a tony neighborhood, a beautiful and successful wife and a happy family. Of course, Pops dropped this knowledge after he decided to go on the lam to avoid paying the IRS, but it’s Pops. That’s how he rolls.

 

The best part was when Dre had had enough of Jay and called him the White Cornel West. Burn! Other priceless moments included Charlie’s half-baked assertion that Black people hate getting their packages stolen off their porches—who doesn’t?—and Rainbow’s admission that she had never seen Roots.

 

We also loved when Rainbow said she had to catch up on her “Empires,” the moment Diane and Jack realized their older siblings could not help them with their school projects and the scene where Diane dressed up as Sarah Palin and Jack pretended to be Vanilla Ice. Humorous and adorable. And seeing Laurence Fishburne and Rapaport in a scene together was like an unofficial Higher Learning reunion and a pop-culture geek treat all rolled into one.

 

What was your favorite moment on Black-ish this week? Weigh in below.