The 2016 Emmy Nominations Should Recognize 'black-ish' For Its Honesty & The "Hope" It Gave Us All
The 2016 Emmy Awards nominations are right around the corner on July 14, and there's one sitcom that needs to be on the list of nominees: Kenya Barris' black-ish, which last year was represented at the awards show with Anthony Anderson's Emmy nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. That's definitely a good start as it was only the sitcom's first season (often times, it can take shows at least a year to really catch on awards-wise), but now, after its second, this show definitely deserves more. Not only did black-ish grapple with issues that no other show on television would dare to — like, they started the season with an episode about the n-word — but the episode "Hope" tackled police brutality and systemic racism in America so well, it was rightfully hailed as one of the best episodes about race that ever aired on television. There's really no question that black-ish deserves all the Emmy nominations for this episode.
The episode, which aired in February, centers around the Johnson family watching the trial of an officer that was said to have tasered a fictional unarmed black teenager 37 times. In the episode, Dre (played by Anderson) and his wife Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) struggle with how to approach explaining racism and police brutality to their children — Dre wants to tell his children about the harsh realities of the world, but Bow wants to preserve their innocence — and the result is an episode that depicts a long, emotional, nuanced conversation in the family's living room about the consistent injustice the black community faces on a daily basis, the frequent failure of the justice system to do its job, the importance of Black Lives Matter, and the importance of retaining hope during homes of trouble.
One of the most moving parts of "Hope" is Anderson's monologue on trying to hang onto hope in such a dark time of racial strife. He talks about the fear he had of President Obama being assassinated for being the first black president when he was being inaugurated, commenting he worried the world would "snatch that hope away from us like they always do." The frankness and openness of the conversation was praised by critics and fans alike, many of whom expressed their gratitude for the episode on Twitter.
Additionally, when all eyes are on awards shows to make up for their failings in diversity, it would be a grievous error to overlook Barris' show, not just for the episode "Hope" but for what this kind of episodes represent: the proof that television needs more frank, honest conversations that reflect what the American experience really looks like for people who are not white. And tackling racism in such an open and honest way is award-worthy: in fact, black-ish won a Peabody award for it earlier this year. Of course, this isn't the only reason the show should be nominated — but it is another reason.
Additionally (and, unfortunately) "Hope" is as relevant as ever. In the wake of the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in just the past few weeks, to not nominate the only show that has tackled one of the most important civil rights issue of our time would be a travesty.
"Hope" was an episode that resonated because of its willingness to explore a difficult conversation that many black families are having. Black-ish should get that Emmy nomination, not only for "Hope," but because it reinforces such an important message: Black lives matter, and their stories need to be told on television. At the end of "Hope," the Johnson family leaves their home to attend a rally. That's the kind of powerful television moment that deserves to be recognized at the Emmy Awards.