We all know that there is power in art. Art holds up a mirror to what society is and all that society could be. Oftentimes when that mirror reflects America’s worst moments, it is a way to help inform, heal and continue moving forward. When our favorite television shows use their airtime to push the conversation on social issues such as race, the 30 - 60 minutes that we watch, changes things for the better. Check out these seven episodes from our favorite TV shows that tackle race and police brutality.
Queen Sugar Season 2 Episode 1
The episode titled, After the Winter, deals with police brutality against Black people through the experience of Micah West (Nicholas L. Ashe), the son of main character Charley Bordelon West (Dawn-Lyen Gardner). Micah is wrongfully arrested and assaulted by a police officer who wants to teach him a “lesson”. The officer takes Micah into an alley, sticks a gun in his mouth, and pulls the trigger — all because he is a “fancy-talking” young man of color. While the weapon isn't loaded, Micah walks away traumatized.
Watchmen Season 1 - The Whole Damn Series
I know we titled this episodes of TV that deals with race but HBO’s 2019 breakout show Watchmen, was an alternate reality that still exposed racial disparities in America. Specifically, their backstory is the 1921 Tulsa riots, where white Americans bombed what was known as Black Wall Street. The series also deals with generational trauma due to race and what it means to be a Black man in America.
A Different World Season 5 Episode 14
The episode titled, Cat’s In The Cradle, begins with a hotly contested Hillman-Virginia A&M game, when Ron accepts a sucker bet from three white A&M students Then he gets into a fight, after one of the students start to spray a racial epithet on his car in revenge. In a cell, the men proceed to give very different accounts, mediated by a white officer who challenges both groups' assumptions.
Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air Season 1, Episode 6
The episode titled, Mistaken Identity, Will and Carlton are pulled over and arrested while driving Uncle Phil’s business associate’s fancy car. The “big” moment happens when Carlton, having grown up without experiencing racial profiling, struggles to come to terms with his race being the reason for the officers’ suspicion. I know y’all remember the original Aunt Viv was on READY!
Black-ish Season 2 Episode 16
Blackish, now heading into their seventh season, always promoted an inside look of a Black family in America. In the 2016 episode Hope, the Johnson family discuss race while watching news coverage of a grand jury considering the indictment of a white police officer accused of killing an African American teen. It was a heartbreaking look at being real with your children vs telling it like it is!
Black-ish Season 4 Episode 1
During such civil unrest, everyone is canceling July 4th and ready to celebrate Juneteenth. The Tracee Ellis Ross led sitcom, explored the historical moment when slaves were told they were free in 1865 with a musical episode titled Juneteenth.
Dear White People - The Whole Damn Series!
Here we are again! Another show that is a vessel for race relations. The Netflix show, which is heading into its fourth and final season, follows a group of students of color at Winchester University, a predominantly white Ivy League college. The students are faced with a landscape of cultural bias, social injustice, misguided activism and slippery politics. Through an absurdist lens, the series uses irony, self-deprecation, brutal honesty and humor to highlight issues that still plague today's "post-racial" society.