D.W. Ulsterman Bids Farewell To ABC’s “Blackish”

What once was a sly-smile look at the often self-inflicted absurdities of race relations in America has sadly (though likely inevitably) regressed into yet more blithering and divisive identity television. The excuse is the 2016 Election – that result in which an older billionaire white man defeated an older multi-millionaire white woman, which somehow to the Hollywood elite, represents a target-rich environment to declare institutionalized racism in America.

God. How terribly and predictably boring of them.

There was a time not so long ago when Blackish was both refreshing and insightful – a clever, well-written comedic dialogue that played fairly within the context of a multi-racial America.

Yes, it had something to say, but it was undeniably funny as it did so.

Then, its ratings slipped, and there were whispers of complaint that the show wasn’t “black enough” meaning the family portrayed was too wealthy, too academically inclined, which is another way of saying they were too white – aka, merely an updated version of The Cosby Show.  (Blackish actually addressed this criticism during an episode last season by having the father and son characters admit there are so few upwardly mobile, well educated, successful black families in America who are not rappers, athletes, or entertainers.)

And so, the writing devolved, grew more desperate, and most recently, took the easier, low-hanging fruit of identity politics and ran with it, hoping to garner critical acclaim at the expense of viewership. And so came the most recent jokes/lectures/outrage agatinst Donald Trump’s supposed “racism”, America’s racially sordid past, and just how darn unfair life is for minorities.

Now think about that. A show paying its creator, its writers, and its actors millions of dollars per season, owned by a company run by old white men, is lecturing its audience on the unfairness of the modern-era American experience.


That has always been the Achilles heel for Blackish. From its beginning, it was a show that existed in the false reality that white people are obsessed with race. They are not. Is the modern media culture? Yes. Are everyday working families struggling to get by? No. And so, with that initial false premise always lurking, it was inevitable that as soon as ratings began to slip, the show’s creator, a talented black writer by the name of Kenya Barris, announced it would be taking a “new direction.” Unfortunately, that direction was down, and has further promoted the “we all need to think the same” formula of plantation politics that remains the most dangerous form of actual racism still existing on American today.

Mr. Barris agreed during a recent PBS interview that the 2016 election revealed a “deep divide” in America. This inclination was actually revealed during the previous season of Blackish when he devoted an entire episode to the gun issue – but centered it upon the controversy of a white policemen shooting an unarmed black man. As tragic as that scenario is, the fact it is so rare, particularly in comparison to the thousands of black on black gun crime incidents, it made the entire premise of that episode an exercise in promotion of yet another false reality. So while Mr. Barris claims to want to help initiate an honest dialogue on race in America through comedy, he has too often lately taken to trying to be “relevant” by using Blackish to vocalize the cause de jour of the moment. His won’t be the first Hollywood program to do so – but the past is proof-positive that when that happens, it’s a show in decline, having lost its way, and scrambling to find and/or keep an audience.

Not included in this most recent Blackish portrayal is the fact Donald Trump garnered MORE support among Black, Hispanic, the poor, and young voters in 2016 than did Mitt Romney in 2012. That would indicate that for America in general, Donald Trump is actually ushering in a less divisive era than the previous election. 

The media has buried the above information out of sight – choosing instead to perpetrate the myth that Donald Trump has no support among the minority community. The reality is quite different. MILLIONS of minorities made him their choice to be President. Blackish has taken to mocking these minorities. During its most recent episode, one of its characters actually questioned whether Ben Carson, among the most celebrated neurosurgeons in history, was a “real” black man, thus helping to perpetrate the very same athlete/rapper/entertainer = real black person stereotype the show once claimed to be trying to overcome.

The show went for what they thought to the be the easy joke, and was the lesser for it.

To those who disagree with Donald Trump on policy, who don’t like his desire to disband Obamacare, or get tougher on border security, or want to lower the corporate tax rate, or his desire for greater school choice, or fear he will create a more conservative Supreme Court, or merely think he’s a spoiled boorish billionaire blowhard, you have every right to voice your opinions accordingly.

Though, if you simply regurgitate the Hollywood and Media Elite fabrication of Trump as a racist, or that Trump has deeply divided America, you are making yourself a willing pawn in a widespread manipulation and are no better than those on the other side of the political fence than you, who choose to do the same to politicians you happen to support. That great divide the media elite are always telling us all about? You’re actually helping to perpetrate it, thus keeping the “Divided America” propaganda machine in business.

I have made clear for some time I am not so much a man devoted to any particular political party, but rather someone who simply wishes to be left alone. I want a government that keeps us safe, the roads paved, and the trains running on time, but beyond that, STAY OUT OF MY LIFE.  I also know millions more, regardless of color, gender, religion, or bedroom proclivities, feel exactly the same.

And if Donald Trump proves himself incapable of moving America in the direction of letting its people be themselves, then my next vote will be for someone who will. That isn’t a “divided America”, that’s just politics, and if you’re living right, politics plays a far less important role than LIFE ITSELF, yeah?

I’m gonna miss Blackish. It was once a show that made me laugh. Now it just makes me sad for its having so clearly lost its way into the seemingly bottomless pit of the Hollywood PC culture where the joke becomes the joke, comedy devolves into tragedy, and a bit of fun turns into an agenda-driven elitist lecture on right and wrong.

I don’t know if we’ll ever MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, but at this point, I’d be happy just to see it get its sense of humor back…



D.W. Ulsterman is a bestselling, award-winning author and socio-political commentator. 

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