The use of the n-word has long been an on-going debate in the black community and Kenya Barris, creator of the hit ABC sitcom “Black-ish,” wants to use his show as a platform to spark more discussion on the subject.
In its upcoming second season premiere, youngest son Jack (Miles Brown) sings along to Kanye West’s 2005 hit “Gold Digger” during a school talent show and says the word much to the shock and dismay of the audience. After he is threatened with expulsion, a family debate on the merits of the word is set into motion.
Barris says the debate about the word happens within the show’s writer’s room just like it does in his own family.
“One of the things we try to do is to show (the black community is) not a monolithic voice,” he says. “There are a lot of different voices within and outside the community. We try to explore what this word means from a panoramic viewpoint.”
With the runaway success of the show, Barris says he feels as though he has the wiggle room to push the boundaries just a bit.
“I consider myself a disciple of Norman Lear,” he says. “And one of the things he did was topic-driven humor. In our second year, I want people to know we’re not just a family show. We’re a family show that deals with topics with your kids. And that’s driven by exposing your kids to the world, and giving your explanation. Comedy used to be a vehicle for change. Now comedy has gotten to this quirky, nonsensical place, which I enjoy. But I do think there is room for discussion-based humor. We can tell those stories in a way that feels edifying.”
“Black-ish” kicks off its second season on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 9:30 p.m. est on ABC.