Unwinding & Unlearning

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September 11, 2020

unlearning, how to learn more about racism, Black tv shows, shows created by Black people, Black entertainment

As we continue to fight for racial justice and equality, it’s important to continue learning (and unlearning!) and surrounding ourselves with different perspectives. While I’ve always had friends of all races and ethnicities, one thing that has also helped me understand the Black perspective a little bit more is watching shows by Black creators starring Black actors. In addition to having discussions with Black people directly and reading educational books, it’s helpful to digest Black entertainment. This lighter form of learning can also serve to further educate those who will never fully understand what it’s like to be Black in America.

So, I’m happy to share some of my favorite shows that directly address racism in a powerful way that follows a plot and storyline, making it easier to understand for some people. Here are my top recommendations:

This is probably on every list like this, and for good reason. I’ve been a fan of this show from the very beginning and can’t wait for season 5! Issa, the show’s star and creator, is incredibly relatable in her journey through young adulthood in LA. She navigates her career, much-too-comfortable relationship, and her friendships with no ease. As a woman, I can relate. As a non-black woman, my life is so much easier than hers – a fact that is made clear time and time again.

I started watching this as soon as it came out since it’s set in my home. Plus who doesn’t love Donald Glover? The show’s star and creator, we follow Donald Glover as Earn. He’s his rapper cousin’s manager, and it’s no easy feat to gain respect in the industry. Not to mention his baby mama drama and in between homes situation. The only downside of this show is that it only lasted two seasons. Bring it back, Donald!

This show gets my vote as the most hilarious show on television. I’m one of those people that laughs out loud when I’m watching shows and Black-ish has me howling constantly. But make no mistake, this affluent Black family faces their own battles with racism and Blackness in every episode. This show really makes you think, while being hilariously entertaining along the way.

Queen Sugar
My sister introduced me to this show and I’m so glad she did. The drama! The shade! I love it. The Bordelon family has all the usual sibling rivalry and family drama you’d expect in any family, but as a Black family, they’re all over the map. One sibling is wildly successful while another has a troubling past. As a non-black person, it’s easy to see how the family members are treated differently because of their race.

This is the only show on the list I haven’t seen yet, but it’s for sure the most relevant to the current movement. Set in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a comic book spin, Watchmen is a dark look at a world where it’s citizens against masked white supremacists/corrupt police. Sound familiar? It’s a little too real given our current society, but as we know, history repeats itself and the chilling truth of Tulsa in 1921, which is depicted in this mini-series, gives the viewer a much stronger understanding of the fight against racial injustice.

The next time you sit down to unwind, consider taking the opportunity to also unlearn the things you’re used to and expose yourself to something new and enlightening.

What are your recommendations for TV shows that shed light on racism?

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Photo by Ryan Carpenter.