Police Brutality

The episode “Hope” takes mainly takes place in the Johnson’s living room. The whole family has gathered around to hear the verdict of the cop who has shot an unarmed African American. Throughout the episode, each adult shares their view on police brutality and what should be done to improve the system.  Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) wants to tell his children the harsh reality of being a black child in America and what they might face in the future. His wife Rainbow ( Tracee Ellis Ross), wants to shield the children and try to tell them that hope is still alive and that they have equal  opportunity like every other child (Kenya Barris “Hope”).

Director Kenya Barris was debating if he should create this episode. He wanted to create an episode that touched on police brutality, while still staying funny (Variety). While creating the episode he decided to include how parents deal with telling their younger children what is going on in the world. Rainbow believes that the youngest children shouldn’t be exposed to what is going on in the world, while Andre believes that they shouldn’t sugar coat anything because they are black kids which automatically makes them a target.

Kenya Barris included what his seven year-old son said to him verbatim in the script to show that children are clueless and want to know what is going on in the world (Variety). Jack, one of the the twins said ” Why are all these people so mad” while watching people protest on the news. Having the character say that shows has some authenticity and not always focused on the laughter.

The show did stay true to its self and found a smart way to add comedy and laughter. Barris had the main characters especially his mother Ruby. Ruby tells the family that the riot is nothing to play with and that they should be prepared. She decides to feed the family white rice even thought there is a refrigerator full of food, and claims that the food in the refrigerator can be used as weapons. The show ends with Ruby spray painting “Black Owned” on the garage with her sitting in front of it.

I was fortunate to have parents who told me what was going on  in the world, but when I was a child, there wasn’t a story on the news everyday about an unarmed African American man being shot to death by police. Being honest with me and showing me that the world isn’t perfect gave me the opportunity to judge and view the world based on my feelings.

I read and article Breathing while Black, Written by Robert Flack that described the encounters notable African American people have faced when dealing with police. Some of the encounters surprised me because they weren’t too long ago.

” Take growing up in Philly, dealing with the police–where, one time, a cop pulled me over and, when I asked him, “Officer, did I do something?” he said, “You’re a fucking nigger in a nice car. Now shut the fuck up until I figure out why I’m giving you a ticket.” That I could live with, because I knew exactly what I was dealing with.  It was up to me to make a decision about how to react. I did.  I reported him to Internal Affairs” (Flack).

This is Will Smiths encounter with a police office in 1998. Will Smith was known during that time due to Fresh Prince of Bel-Ari. He did what most African American males are taught to do, say “yes sir”, “no sir” and report them later.

The article had police encounters up to 2012 and if the article was updated it will be full with police encounters just from 2017 alone, and we are sadly only half way into the year.