How black-ish's Powerful Colorism Episode Nearly Tore the Johnsons Apart | 1/15/2019 | Malcolm Venable
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black-ish has boldly tackled many issue Black Americans face when going out in the world throughout its five seasons, but Tuesday's "Black Like Us," turned the gaze inward to create one of its most poignant episodes ever.

Starting with a simple annoyance about Diane (Marsai Martin) being poorly lit in her school photo, Diane's parents Andre (Anthony Anderson) and Bo (Tracee Ellis Ross) open up a conversation about colorism (discrimination based on skin tone, not race) within the African American community that turns explosive, personal and painful. Of course, black-ish doing moving, even unsettling commentary around the complexities of race isn't new, but "Black Like Us" is one of its rawest, realest narrative which mines centuries-old beliefs about skin color that, to this day, open up wounds that are not often discussed.


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"We'd been talking about doing this episode for a few seasons," Kenny Smith, black-ish's co-showrunner and an executive producer told TV Guide. "When we do have a story that's about a hot-button topic like this, the pressure is on to get it right. The biggest thing we hoped for is that we all just wanted people to watch and have a conversation."

Black - Us - Plenty - Context - Form

"Black Like Us" certainly offers up plenty to talk about. There's historical context, in the form of an animated aside about how slaveowners tended to put lighter blacks inside the plantation houses while dark skinned people worked in the fields, setting up resentments that would last for generations. There is a discussion about how Latino, Asian and Indian people see similar favoritism towards lighter skinned people over darker skinned people in their communities too. But what makes the episode so rich and startling is the heated confrontations that take place within the Johnson household itself.

That starts when Junior (Marcus Scribner) turns the...
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