It’s dinner time at the Johnson and the rest of the family is too tied up in their cellphones to hear Bow announce it’s ready. And it’s probably not the first time they or anyone has been distracted by their devices. Since its inception, communication has broadened mankind’s horizons. From letters to email to Facebook messenger, people have been brought closer together by technology…and also further apart. As Bow finds comfort and rejection in her online women’s group, Dre struggles to bring people closer together IRL in this episode of BLACKISH titled “Bow Knows”.
While at the office, Dre’s boss Leslie puts the team on a special project, concepting an ad for Proctor and Gamble’s “My Black is Beautiful” campaign. But our characters aren’t the only ones trying to sell the P&G brand. As it turns out this episode was partly sponsored by Proctor & Gamble and though the message of their campaign does align with Black-ish’s ability to tackle tough issues it does leave many to question the likelihood of this happening in the future. Many have already accepted product placement to be common in action-packed blockbusters, but Black-ish seemed to be a bit above what feels like a corporate buyout. Also, it’s one thing to have a can of soda or a baby food processor on a counter, but another to weave a companies message into the entire storyline.
Regardless of the plot motivation for including it. “The Talk” isn’t just a reality for African Americans, but almost everyone growing up. Yes, maybe the walls around which it is built varies based on race, sex, and class, but the foundation remains the same. People in life may have preconceived notions of who you are, but you can’t let their prejudice define you. And it’s not just the responsibility of those parents to make their kids aware of the issues they’ll directly face, but the plight of others as well. Although Dre spends the bulk of the episode trying to drop breadcrumbs to his coworkers, they ultimately have their eureka moment without him. Sure they have taken baby steps towards empathy, but have failed to acknowledge the person of color who cleared the way for them.
In her online group, Bow is experiencing the opposite of a Kumbaya moment. Initially, her digital mommy club felt like a safe space to share parenting ideas and get advice. Dre might not be interested in the process of making baby food at home, but these moms sure are. However, the internet giveth and the internet taketh away. When Bow praises the wonders of vaccines, several moms take the opportunity to pounce on her. In the wake of a Trump, presidency Bow should be less surprised by their willful ignorance. It’s just as Ruby said. You can find tons of people online who agree with you, and even thousands more who don’t. You have the accept the reality that you won’t be able to change people’s minds. Even if you are a reputable source.
At the end of the episode, both Rainbow and Dre have sort of ended up on opposite sides of the spectrum. Bow feels that you can’t change people’s minds, while Dre thinks you just have to find the right tactic. On the internet, everyone has a platform. Which is both a good and bad thing. In some ways, it has leveled the playing field while making it that more difficult to navigate. But the answer isn’t removing yourself from it, but continuing to push for truth and reason. Even when the battle is as small as sending death threats to a grilled cheese, or as big as vaccinated children. Eventually the truth will rise to the top of the message boards.
Season 4, Episode 12 (S04E12)
Black-ish airs Wednesdays at 930PM on ABC
Armani Barron | Contributor