Chance The Rapper, Google Team Up To Give $1.5 Million Toward STEM In Chicago Schools

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The Chicago rapper is advocating for more computer science education in his hometown.

Chance the Rapper is like Santa to Chicago Public Schools.

The three-time Grammy winner teamed up with Google to bring computer science education to students in the Chicago area. The tech giant will give a $1 million grant to Chance’s nonprofit, SocialWorks, and $500,000 directly to Chicago Public Schools.

The company announced their donation on Wednesday, after Chance surprised fifth graders at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Academy during a coding lesson with Google employees as a part of Computer Science Education Week. The grant will also help teachers incorporate computer science and arts curricula in their classrooms.

“We’re honored to support SocialWorks’ mission to help underrepresented students in Chicago reach their full potential, as well as Chicago Public Schools’ efforts to turn computer science into a pathway for creative expression,” Google.org principal Justin Steele said in a statement. “There’s so much talent and creativity in the communities that these schools serve — and Chance The Rapper embodies what can happen when that creativity is unleashed. With exposure to computer science, students can use technology to turn their creative passions — whether that’s art, writing, music or something else — into something bigger.”

Justin Cunningham, executive director of SocialWorks, said the donation “sheds light on another pathway to success” for Chicago’s youth.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Own Black Lightning: The Complete First Season on Digital now, Blu-ray™ and DVD on June 26!

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Black Lightning

Jefferson Pierce, a man with a secret. As the father of two daughters and principal of a high school that also serves as a safe haven in a neighborhood overrun by violence, he is a hero to his community. Pierce is also a hero of a different sort. Gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity, he keeps his hometown safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning.

For more content, go to: www.owndctv.com

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@BlackLightning

Oprah Winfrey, Apple Sign Multi-Year Content Partnership

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Apple and Oprah Winfrey have a signed a multi-year content partnership. Under the deal, Winfrey and Apple will create programs that will be released as part of Apple’s original content lineup.

The deal marks one of the first such agreements struck between Apple and a content creator. Previously, Apple set an overall deal with veteran showrunner Kerry Ehrin. Ehrin will also serve as the showrunner on Apple’s upcoming morning show drama series starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.

This is also the latest addition to Winfrey’s media empire. The former hit talk show host formed her own cable network, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, in 2011 in partnership with Discovery Communications. The channel has become one of the fastest-growing cable networks among women and has produced hit shows like “Queen Sugar,” which boasts Oscar nominee Ava DuVernay as showrunner.

Winfrey recently extended her contract with Discovery through 2025. Sources tell Variety that Apple’s deal with Winfrey does not conflict with the Discovery agreement. Winfrey remains exclusive in an on-screen capacity to OWN with limited carve-outs, such as her role as a correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes” and her recent acting work for HBO.

Via her Harpo Productions banner, Winfrey has also developed several long-running hit syndicated shows including “Dr. Phil,” “The Dr. Oz Show” and “Rachael Ray.” Through her Harpo Films, she has produced several Academy Award-winning features including “Selma,” which was directed by DuVernay. Winfrey also had a featured role in that film, and recently starred in other films like “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and HBO’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

Winfrey also runs O, The Oprah Magazine and published the New York Times best-selling cookbook “Food, Health and Happiness” last year. As a noted philanthropist, Winfrey has contributed more than $100 million to provide education to academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2017.

Continue onto Variety to read the complete article.

“Incredibles 2” is the Latest Film in Samuel L. Jackson’s Hollywood Journey

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LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 05: Samuel L. Jackson attends the World Premiere Of Disney-Pixar's "Incredibles 2" at El Capitan Theatre on June 5, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Samuel L. Jackson

By Ronda Racha Penrice, Urban News Service

LOS ANGELES—Samuel L. Jackson is, without a doubt, the hardest working man in Hollywood. To date, he’s appeared in well over 100 films with a box office take of $7 billion and counting.

That’s a Guinness World Record that Jackson, who appears in about four films each year, isn’t relinquishing anytime soon. In his latest, he reprises his role as Lucius Best, close friend to the Parr family who also doubles as the superhero Frozone, for Disney’s long-awaited animated sequel “Incredibles 2.” The 2004 original, “The Incredibles,” grossed over $631 million worldwide.

Playing an animated character who can “shoot ice out of his hands” is very apt for Jackson who is generally considered the coolest cat in Hollywood. But it’s a long way from his childhood in Chattanooga, Tenn. Raised during Jim Crow, Jackson, who turns 70 later this year, was very familiar with the color line, spending much of his early life in almost exclusively black environments. His father was very absent while his mother was a sporadic presence for many years. So Jackson’s maternal grandparents and aunt had a huge impact on his early life. From his grandfather, who worked as a janitor, Jackson learned the value of hard work and that still shows in his work ethic today. His Aunt Edna, a performing arts teacher, actually set him on the path to becoming an actor.

“I was in the house with her and she was generally in charge of the pageant shows or whatever the happenings. She never had enough boys. Boys never volunteered. I lived in the house with her so she made me,” he said, reclining comfortably at the other end of a sofa. “She takes all the credit for this,” he laughed, outstretching his hands to highlight the luxuriousness of his The London West Hollywood room.

As a student at the iconic men’s college Morehouse in Atlanta that also counts Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Spike Lee among its alumni, Jackson became ferocious about acting. There he even met his wife of nearly 40 years, LaTanya Richardson, a serious actress attending Spelman. He also appeared in his very first film, the long-forgotten 1972 Blaxploitation era film about interracial romance titled “Together for Days,” later renamed “Black Cream.” In 1976, Jackson and Richardson moved to New York.

“I never had a time when acting wasn’t going well,” said Jackson of

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 05:  Samuel L. Jackson attends the World Premiere Of Disney-Pixar's "Incredibles 2" at El Capitan Theatre on June 5, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
LaTanya Richardson (L) and Samuel L. Jackson attend the World Premiere Of Disney-Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” at El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

those days. “I had times when acting didn’t pay as much as something else could have. But I’ve only had like one real job other than actor. I was a security guard . . . But other than that I’ve supported myself acting since 1978.”

Jackson’s strategy was to keep everything he did in the theater. “I did things I’d learned to do in college that wouldn’t take me out of the theater situation,” he said. “It was easier for me to say I have an audition to people who are in the theater and they go ‘good luck’ than if I had to go to my auditions and be like ‘who’s going to wait my tables?’

“I just didn’t put myself in that situation so I built sets, I hung lights. I did whatever was necessary to make money in the business I wanted to be in. I knew how to do it. It kept me close to the theater. I could watch people rehearse, read lines with them or do whatever. So I was always ready to go.”

Jackson, who came through the theater ranks with Denzel Washington, Laurence Fishburne, Morgan Freeman and Wesley Snipes, was so good at being on stage that it seemed that not even drugs and alcohol could knock him off. But that was not true. When Richardson found her husband passed out, she sent him to rehab. As Jackson left rehab, Hollywood finally did call in the form of Spike Lee. Playing drug-addicted Gator Purify in Lee’s 1991 film, “Jungle Fever,” starring Wesley Snipes, got Jackson recognized. His role as Jules Winnfield, the Jheri curled hitman with a penchant for quoting Bible verses and a flair for dropping a profane word or two in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 film “Pulp Fiction,” made him a star. And he hasn’t stopped working since.

Frozone (aka Lucius Best), Dash and Violet- “Incredibles 2” ©2018 Disney•Pixar.

Over the years, Jackson’s appeal has broadened to point that he has literally gone from last year’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” to an appearance as Nick Fury in Marvel’s recent superhero mash-up “Avengers: Infinity War.” But “The Incredibles” franchise, which counts Jackson’s daughter Zoe among its many fans, is one of the few Jackson has done suitable for all ages.

“I watched cartoons my whole life so being a voice of a cartoon character is kind of great,” he said. “And he’s a superhero. He’s got a superpower.”

“Incredibles 2” is in theaters nationwide June 15.

Three HBCU graduates bring craft beer bar to Harlem

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Harlem Hops to become the first beer bar in Harlem owned 100 percent by African-Americans

Three graduates of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are bringing a stylish take to a trendy craft beer bar in New York’s historic Harlem neighborhood. On June 9, owners Kevin Bradford, Kim Harris and Stacey Lee officially opened the doors of Harlem Hops to the public, making the establishment the first craft beer bar in Harlem to be 100 percent owned by African-Americans.

Harlem Hops sits nestled in the heart of Harlem at 2268 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd., a bustling street alive with independently owned businesses, convenient stores, curious neighbors and schoolchildren counting down the days until summer vacation begins. Walking into the bar gives the feel of everything Harlem embodies: a cozy, close-knit community where everyone is welcome.

“We want Harlem Hops to be Cheers for a lot of people in the neighborhood,” Harris said. “We want it to be the safe haven where you can just come and learn about something different.”

The vision of Harlem Hops began for Harris, a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, nearly five years ago. Born and raised in Harlem, Harris appreciated her neighborhood, but good beer was hard to find. Her quests to drink beer she enjoyed included traveling to Brooklyn to get it.

“I thought, there’s something missing here,” Harris said. “And that’s when it came to me that we should do a beer bar in Harlem. That’s was one of the reasons I thought about it.”

At the time, Harris had been in what she described as a distressed partnership with another business. But upon meeting with restaurant consultant Jason Wallace, Harris learned there was another entrepreneur who shared a similar vision for a craft beer bar. Bradford, a graduate of Hampton University, had the same problems as Harris when it came to finding good beer. Originally from Detroit, Bradford would find himself bringing beer back from his hometown to New York.

“I like good beer, and I couldn’t really find good beer above 125th. To tell you the truth, even above 110th,” Bradford said. “I had to travel to Brooklyn. I had to travel these far distances to get beer I liked. I think back in 2011 or 2012, New York was not really the beer center of the East Coast. Now, New York is pretty much on the map for craft beer. I live in Harlem and I wanted to open a bar in my neighborhood, but the zoning was residential. I could not have a commercial space in my property. That’s when Jason Wallace introduced myself and Kim and I was like, this is it.”

The two met near the end of 2016 and agreed that they could make the partnership work. Harris also ran her ideas past Lee, a fellow graduate of Clark Atlanta University and a trusted entrepreneur Harris had worked with in the past. Lee was more than happy to hop aboard and invest in the business.

“When Stacey came on board, she kind of made us whole in terms of all the bits and pieces,” Harris said. “I have business sense, Kevin is focused on the beer and Stacey brings in the creativity and helps me keep my thoughts together. We’re all married to each other. We love each other. It’s the perfect combination.”

Before long, ideas and concepts of what Harlem Hops could and should be began to fly. The three worked feverishly together to figure out everything from color schemes to beer to food menus. For decor, the group enlisted the help of designers. Matte black and copper would serve as the theme throughout the bar, and Harlem — whether it was in words, light-up messages or a marquee hanging from the ceiling — would be fully represented.

Continue onto The Undefeated to read the complete article.

Oprah Winfrey is part of American history — and now has the museum exhibition to prove it

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She’s a powerful media executive and Hollywood jet-setter who transformed daytime television, launched literary careers, and convened difficult conversations about race and gender.

But Oprah Winfrey also is an African American activist whose contributions to American culture rank alongside those of Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells, according to a new exhibition at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Opening Friday and running through June 2019, “Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture” features video clips, interview segments, movie costumes, and personal photographs and journals to explore what has influenced Winfrey and how her work has shaped America.

“What’s interesting is the same way America thought about Walter Cronkite — you could trust Walter Cronkite and his opinion — they trust Oprah,” said museum director Lonnie G. Bunch III. “An African American woman becomes the person America turns to.”

Winfrey donated $21 million to the $540 million museum, making her its largest individual benefactor (its theater is named in her honor). But her role as benefactor did not influence the exhibition, Bunch said.

“We made sure there was a bright line, that this was done by the museum and museum scholars,” he said. “The fundraising was not through Oprah’s people.”

Curators Rhea L. Combs and Kathleen Kendrick worked with Winfrey and her staff on arranging loans for the exhibition and on fact-checking and background information.

“In terms of content and narrative and the way the story is told, it’s the museum’s product,” Kendrick said. “The way we approached it was the way we approach all of our exhibitions.”

The show balances Winfrey’s humble personal story with her achievements.

“We’re providing a context for understanding not only who she is, but how she became a global figure, and how she is connected to broader stories and themes,” Kendrick said.

The first section of the show, which is in the Special Exhibitions gallery, explores Winfrey’s childhood and early career and how the cultural shifts of the 1950s and ’60s informed her worldview.

“Civil rights, the women’s movement, the media and television landscape, she’s at this distinct intersection of all of these dynamic moments,” Combs said. “She becomes someone at the forefront of dealing with ideas, of discussing hot-button topics like racism and sexual orientation.”

Continue onto the Washington Post to read the complete article.

Darius Rucker, Kane Brown make country chart history

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Darius Rucker and Kane Brown are sharing a chart record as the first two solo acts who are also minorities to follow each other with No. 1 country songs in the 28-year history of the Billboard Country Airplay chart.

According to Billboard, Brown, who is biracial, had a two-week No. 1 with “Heaven” and Rucker, who is black, followed him with his single, “For The First Time,” on the chart dated June 2. The chart, which digitally measures airplay, began in 1990.

“I wanted to be involved in and make country music because I loved it,” said Rucker in a statement. “To be making history, especially with my little brother Kane Brown, is incredible and a great, added bonus.”

Rucker got his first country No. 1 “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” in 2008, which was also followed at the top by Kenny Chesney’s song “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven,” with reggae group The Wailers.

Meanwhile this is just the latest chart record for newcomer Brown, who is the only artist in Billboard history to top all five country charts simultaneously. He hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums, Country Airplay, Hot Country Songs, Country Streaming Songs and Country Digital Songs charts.

“I’ve always tried to make the music that I liked, and that I knew my fans would like, and have tried to stay true to that, and I am such a big fan of Darius’ musically, that sharing anything with him feels like an honor,” Brown said in a statement.

But prior to the current Billboard chart, other minority acts have followed each other with No. 1 country singles. In 1975, Latino singers Johnny Rodriguez and Freddy Fender twice followed each other to the top of Billboard’s previous country singles chart.

Continue onto AP News to read the complete article.

Barack and Michelle Obama Sign Netflix Production Deal

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barack and michelle obama

Netflix has secured a deal with former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obamato produce series and movies for the streaming service. The former first couple will, according to an announcement Monday from the company, potentially work on scripted and unscripted series as well as docu-series, documentary films, and features under the multi-year deal.

“One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience,” said President Obama. “That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix — we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”

“Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others,” said Michelle Obama. “Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership.”

Signing the Obamas is the latest, and by far the biggest, in a string of moves by Netflix to lock up the entertainment industry’s highest-profile producers in exclusive production and development pacts. Last year, Netflix poached “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes from ABC Studios with a deal valued at more than $100 million. “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy jumped from his longtime home at 20th Century Fox Television earlier this year to also join Netflix. Murphy’s deal was reported at the time to be worth as much as $300 million. However, sources tell Variety that tally includes money that Murphy is expected to make from his current and former Fox series over the life of his Netflix contract, and that the true value of the deal is in line with that of Rhimes.

It is unknown how much the Obamas’ Netflix agreement is worth. In March, Penguin Random House signed the couple to a joint book deal that pays them a reported $65 million for their respective memoirs.

“Barack and Michelle Obama are among the world’s most respected and highly-recognized public figures and are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “We are incredibly proud they have chosen to make Netflix the home for their formidable storytelling abilities.”

Continue onto Variety to read the complete article.

 

The iGen iEverything Train is Coming, but Are You Ready?

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Technology is being consumed at an ever increasing rate causing executives, managers, and process improvement experts on the factory floor to re-define the methods of training and dissemination that have become obsolete.

Critical skills and tribal knowledge are being lost as boomers retire and training plans for new employees fall short of preparing workers for the sophistication of the new manufacturing environment.

Move over millennials, here comes the IGen! Born between 1995 and 2005 this group of tech savvy natives is the next cohort and are just now entering the workforce. IGen, or Gen Z as they are often referred, have grown up in a world of social media where Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter reign supreme. These kids are a force to be reckoned with and require access to information in ways that are familiar, immediate, and actionable. Our success depends on them because as the IGen goes, so goes the manufacturing industry, the nation, and the world.

Alliance Resource Group, in partnership with Sify Technologies has pulled together experts from manufacturing, academia and automated methodologies to develop a solution that addresses the manufacturing challenge of this next generation and identifies the key components of a successful framework including content management, dissemination methodology, scalability, and integration with current learning management systems. These components constitute a micro-learning strategy that facilitates current and future state requirements.

Alliance Resource Group (ARG), is a service disabled veteran owned business located in Newport Beach California. With a foundation in resource management, recruiting, and consulting,  ARG provides services to small and medium size companies throughout the United States.

View the ARG White Paper here! Better be prepared for total process transformation if you want to remain competitive.

One-Handed Player Shaquem Griffin Makes NFL History With Seahawks Draft

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Shaquem Griffin just made history.

The University of Central Florida linebacker became the first one-handed player to be drafted into the NFL after being picked by the Seattle Seahawks on the third day of the 2018 NFL Draft at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday.

Griffin — whose twin brother Shaquill also played for UCF and is now a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks — was born with a congenital birth defect that affected his ability to use his left hand and had the extremity amputated when he was a child because of extreme pain.

Following his pick, which took place in the fifth round, the 22-year-old from St. Petersburg, Florida, told ESPN that he was speechless from the news.

“I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “I didn’t know what to say. I was trying to get the words out, but I couldn’t talk.”

Griffin had previously told multiple outlets that he expected to be picked up by a team during this year’s draft. But despite making history, the athlete told Today he would rather others not concentrate on his disability.

“One day I’m going to be called ‘Shaquem Griffin the football player’ and not ‘Shaquem Griffin the one-hand wonder,’” he told the outlet. “I don’t need that name. Just call me Shaquem Griffin the football player. I’m good with that.”

Continue onto PEOPLE to read the complete article.

A Leading Voice in Diversity and Inclusion in Tech

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Wayne Sutton

Wayne Sutton is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Change Catalyst and its Tech Inclusion programs. Change Catalyst is dedicated to exploring innovative solutions to diversity and inclusion in tech through the Tech Inclusion Conference, training, workshops and the Change Catalyst Startup Fellows Program.

Sutton’s experience includes years of establishing partnerships with large brands to early stage startups. As a leading voice in diversity and inclusion in tech, Sutton shares his thoughts on solutions and culture in various media outlets, where he has been featured in TechCrunch, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition to mentoring and advising early stage startups, Sutton’s life goal is to educate entrepreneurs who are passionate about using technology to change the world.

Wayne has over 14 years’ experience in technology, design, and business development. Wayne has been recognized as one of the Silicon Valley 100 coolest people in tech, one of the 52 hottest new stars in Silicon Valley, one of the 46 Most Important African-Americans In Technology by Business Insider and one of the Top 100 most influential black people on social media in 2014.

In 2014 Wayne co-founded BUILDUP, a non-profit designed to support an inclusive ecosystem of entrepreneurs through educational workshops and fellows program for underrepresented tech founders. In 2011, Wayne co-founded the NewMe Accelerator, the first minority led startup accelerator/incubator in Silicon Valley which was featured in CNN Black in America 4. Prior to NewMe he worked in media in Raleigh, NC for NBC17 and the News and Observer. In 2009, Wayne was the co-founder of TriOut, a mobile location-based startup in Raleigh, NC which exited. Wayne has worked with large brands, Inc 500 companies and advises several technology startups. With a passion for community Wayne has organized Social Media Conferences, tech meetups, and hackathons such as the world’s first Food Hackathon, which assembled leading food innovators, chefs, developers, designers and entrepreneurs to collaborate on solutions in the food ecosystem.

Wayne has been featured on CNN, BBC, USA Today, TechCrunch, Mashable, Black Enterprise, and various online media outlets. Being an early adopter, Wayne was one of the first 1000 users on Twitter, which has led to a loyal following not only on Twitter, but also Facebook and Google+. His blog SocialWayne.com has been ranked one of the 50 best technology and social media blogs in the world over the years.

Wayne is a past TED attendee in 2012. With a passion for education and storytelling, Wayne has spoken at several universities and major internet and technology focused conferences, such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, Duke, UNC, NC State, TEDx, World Wide Web(WWW) Conference, O’Reilly Web 2.0 Expo, South By South West (SXSW), DockerCon 2015 and for the U.S. Embassy Jamaica during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015.

Source: socialwayne.com

Chadwick Boseman To Deliver Howard University Commencement Speech

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Howard University has named actor Chadwick Boseman as this year’s commencement speaker, the school announced on Wednesday.

“I’m excited to return to the Mecca in celebration of the achievements of our illustrious students,” Boseman, a graduate of the historically black college, said in a press release. “Let’s listen, learn and build with one another.”

University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said it was an “honor and privilege” to welcome Boseman back.

“His recent role in the blockbuster film ‘Black Panther’ reminds us of the excellence found in the African diaspora and how places like Howard are hidden, untapped gems producing the next generation of scientists, engineers and doctors,” Frederick said in the statement. “Mr. Boseman exemplifies the monumental heights and levels Howard graduates can achieve by using the skills and knowledge they acquired at the university.”

In February, while promoting “Black Panther,” Boseman told The Chicago Tribune that the essence of Wakanda, the film’s fictional black utopia, exists at the HBCU.

“It is a Wakanda to a certain degree. There is definitely a lot of T’Challa there,” he said. “If you have a blanketed idea of what it means to be of African descent and you go to Howard University, you’re meeting people from all over the diaspora — from the Caribbean, any country in Africa, in Europe. So you’re seeing people from all walks of life that look like you but they sound different.”

Continue onto the HuffingtonPost to read the complete article.

Black-ish Breaks Ground—Breaking up audiences with its edgy comedy

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BLACK-ISH

In what’s been called the “Golden Age of TV,” black-ish is a 24-karat comedy.

It features brilliant actors Tracee Ellis Ross, Anthony Anderson, and Laurence Fishburne, among others.

It’s smart.

It’s hilarious.

And it’s groundbreaking.

In its fifth season on ABC on Wednesday nights, the show featuring a successful African-American family living in suburban Southern California has dealt with powder keg issues such as police brutality, bi-racial relationships, and the n-word, all while busting up viewers.

“Comedy is a good way to give people a spoonful of sugar with their medicine,” said Kenya Barris, the show’s creator.

Beneath the comedy are serious ideas.

“We are a society which talks less about race than ever—at least openly—because of political correctness, and this has made the situation worse,” Barris said.

Black-ish has been nominated for eight Emmy Awards and four Golden Globe Awards. Earlier this year, the show won an award at the NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series. Ross won for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, and Anderson was named Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series.

In 2017, Ross (Bow, or Dr. Johnson on the show) became the first

Tracee & Anthony-ABC Eric McCandless

black woman in more than three decades to win the Golden Globes’ best actress in a TV comedy or musical (the last was Debbie Allen for Fame in 1983). The daughter of Diana Ross says she revels in portraying a thriving wife, mother, and doctor.

“I think that as a black woman, my beingness is a form of activism in and of itself,” Ross said. “If I take that and ripple it out further in an amplified way, I can’t help, from my beingness, to not be a form of activism, because that is who I am.”

Bow’s husband is advertising executive Dre (Anderson), who considers himself the patriarch of the family, but struggles with the changes taking place in society, and worries that his kids aren’t experiencing blackness in the same way he has.

Bow and Dre’s children are the quietly shrewd Zoey (Yara Shahidi), the conscientious Junior (Marcus Scribner), the volcanic Diane (Marsai Martin), the sweet and often confused Jack (Miles Brown), and baby DeVante. Alicia (Anna Deavere Smith) is Bow’s woo-woo mother, and Jonah (David Diggs) is her intellectual, often-annoying brother.

Pops (Fishburne) is Dre’s no-nonsense father with a bit of a checkered past. Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) is his loose cannon mother, and Rhonda (Raven Symone) is his gay sister whose wit and wisdom make her a show-stealer, even though she’s a no-drama woman.

Ask fans of black-ish about their favorite episode, and fiery debates will ensue. It’s impossible to name the best or most important single show, but here are a handful that fans—including former President Barack Obama, who has said it’s his favorite TV sitcom—would probably mention:

Black-ish
Anthony & Laurence- ABC/Eric McCandless

—When the kids ask some tough questions about a highly publicized court case involving accusations of police brutality upon a black teenager, Dre and Bow are torn over how to field them. Dre, along with Pops and Ruby, feel the kids need to know what kind of world they’re living in, while Bow is determined to give them a rosier view. In one of the show’s most dramatic moments, Dre—recalling how proud and hopeful he and Bow were when Obama was elected president and how terrified they were that he’d get assassinated on his inauguration day—convinces Bow that the kids should not be blindfolded to reality.

—After Dre notices that his neighbor Janine has never invited his family to any of her pool parties, he assumes she is racially stereotyping them. The kids are shocked to find out that, guess what? Dre doesn’t know how to swim.

—Jack performs the Kanye West song “Gold Digger” at a school talent show and when he sings a lyric that includes the n-word, it leads to his possible expulsion from school. Dre and Bow work together to keep him in school, and along the way, examine the evolution of the word and grapple with just who has the right to use it and whether it should be said at all.

The n-word episode is probably the most pot-stirring single airing in the show’s five-year history.

Anderson said it’s important to talk about the word, as well as other

issues that affect black families, even if it’s uncomfortable or painful.

“We leave it up to the public to enjoy it or debate,” he said. “But there’s no trepidation at all because we come from an authentic place, and that’s why we can dance the dance that we do in terms of the subject matters that we deal with. When you come at it from a real place and you’re authentic to who you are, who these characters are and what the dynamic of this family is, you can do just about do anything and have it resonate with someone. And that’s what we do.”

When the show debuted in fall 2014 (Larry Wilmore was the showrunner at the time), many were confused about the title.

Fishburne, who was instrumental in getting black-ish aired on ABC, explains it as well, or better, than anyone.

“Here’s the thing about our title,” said Fishburne, who Silver Screen cognoscenti surely remember from Boyz in the Hood, Othello, Tuskagee Airmen, What’s Love Got to Do with It, and The Matrix. “Our title is a little bit of a wink. It’s a bit of a joke because, ultimately, if you live in America and you’ve been in America, let’s say, for the last 10, 15, 20 years, you’re probably a little blackish anyway. So that’s what’s wonderful about our title, and that’s really what it means. Everybody’s a little Jewish. Everybody’s a little blackish, you know?”

Want a simpler breakdown?

Black-ish is not the first TV comedy featuring African-American stars or the first to deal with race issues.

It’s not even the only one on TV. Empire comes to mind.

What makes the show different than, say, The Cosby Show, to name an obvious predecessor, Barris said, is that The Cosby Show was about a thriving family who happened to be black. That was groundbreaking in its time. Black-ish is about a thriving family dealing with their blackness in an ever-changing, sometimes confusing world.

Black-ish
Yara & Anthony- ABC/Eric McCandless

The Johnsons don’t happen to be black; their blackness is integral to who they are and how they navigate through and negotiate with society. It’s not necessarily the epicenter of every show, but it’s ever-present.

And unlike Empire, a fine show in its own right, the Johnsons are not moguls in the business of hip-hop. When Bow and Dre go to work, when Zoey and the other kids go to school, they’re socializing—and competing—with people of all ethnicities, including a large number of Caucasian folks. This forces the show and its viewers to confront uncomfortable issues rooted in this nation’s history.

That’s medicine for Americans.

While we enjoy a spoonful of sugar with it.

Author
Brady Rhoades

America's Leading African American Business and Career Magazine