The “Black-ish” episode of a few weeks ago, “Lemons,” was thought provoking. The premise of the episode was the diverse responses to Donald Trump’s election as President.
The musical intro to the episode is Marvin Gaye’s iconic “What’s Going On?” still a valid question, especially in today’s chaotic and confusing climate.
Dre’s voiceover reminds us that “Upsets are as American as apple pie; someone wins, someone loses. But what happens when the winners and losers are supposed to be on the same team?”
Everyone is dealing, in their own way, with the after-effects of the election.
Rainbow is dressed in every piece of activist apparel she could buy on sale at “Barneys” (a bit of irony there).
“You look like a NPR [National Public Radio] commercial,” is Dre’s response to his wife’s gear.
Zoe and Junior are not in school this day because it has been designated a day of reflection after a student declares to a teacher that she, Ms. Gomez, will soon be shipped back to her country and leads his classmates in the chant, “Ship her back! Ship her back!’
Junior prepares to share the MLK “I Have A Dream” speech at the day of healing while Zoe concentrates on a very special lemonade recipe, a drink she plans to share that day.
Rainbow is concerned about Zoe’s seemingly disassociation from all that is going on in the country after the election and her apparent obsession with the making of this lemonade.
When her mother tries to ascribe some symbolism to the lemonade,, Zoe responds that is just a “non-carbonated refreshment” which her friends will like.
The tension is high in the company conference room as everyone voices their angst and despair and even satisfication about the election outcome. Fingers are pointed and voices are raised. Charlie admits that he voted for Obama because he was black. Lucy admits that she voted for Trump as opposed to voting for a woman and in rebuttal to the accusation that her vote marks her as a racist, she declares, “I am not a racist. I have black friends.”
A word to the wise right here: This statement of Lucy’s does not endear you to the hearer who is black. This is not a pass for anyone white who makes this declaration.
“No one knows how we got here, but everyone has their own ideas.”
Their ideas are all over the place with no resolution in sight.
Dre’s father, when he learns that Junior is going to make the “I Have A Dream” speech on the day of healing at his school, tells him that this is not the entire speech and recites it for Junior.
“There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” `~excerpt, MLK, “I Have A Dream” Speech
“Why didn’t I know this?” Junior decries his ignorance.
“Because they don’t want you to know. … Yeah, Martin had a lot more Malcolmin him than a lot of people give him credit for.”
Junior, astonished by the tone of the text, becomes the black clad radical brandishing a baseball bat in his bedroom.
His grandfather takes away the bat as he tells Junior “Heyy, what’s going on here. I did not tell you this for you to become another angry black man.”
He then explains to Junior that Dr. King added the “I have a dream” section to the speech after gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, who had heard that portion before, yelled out to Dr. King, “Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream!”
The inhabitants of the conference room begin to wonder about Dre’s solemnity in the passionatate discussions and someone asks, “Why don’t you care?
As Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit” plays in the background and pictures of African Americans flit across the screen, Dre speaks:
“I love this country even though at times it doesn’t love me back. For my whole life my parents, my grandparents, me, for most black people, this system has never worked for us. But we still play ball, tried to do our best to live by the rules even though we knew they would never work out in our favor, had to live in neighborhoods that you wouldn’t drive through, send our kids to schools with books so beat up you couldn’t read them, work jobs that you wouldn’t consider in your nightmares.
Black people wake up everyday believing our lives are gonna change even though everything around us says it’s not. Truth be told, you ask most black people and they tell you no matter who won the election, they don’t expect the hood to get better. But they still voted because that’s what you’re supposed to do.
You think I’m not sad that Hillary didn’t win? That I’m not terrified about what Trump’s about to do? I’m used to things not going my way. I’m sorry that you’re not and it’s blowing your mind, so excuse me if I get a little offended because I didn’t see all of this outrage when everything was happening to all of my people since we were stuffed on boats in chains. I love this country as much — if not more — than you do. And don’t you ever forget that.
Junior makes his speech. Zoe shares her lemonade as she asserts it is not liberal lemonade, not conservative lemonade, just lemonade made with love.
There is no resolution in sight but everyone arrives to the point where each realizes that all voices are needed in the conversation, courageous conversations is what I call them.
I have not added much commentary to this post because I just want us all to think about where we are headed, where this country is headed, and how we can add our voices to the healing of the obvious rifts in this land.
I leave you with words from the movie “Red Tails,” words spoken by Andre Braugher’s character, Benjamin O. Davis:
“How do I feel about my country and how does my country feel about me?”
That is still the question.
Watch the episode here: