Kenya Barris, creator of the -ish franchise, has made his directorial debut with You People—a comedy in the same vein as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) and Guess Who (2005) that stars Lauren London, Jonah Hill, Nia Long, and Eddie Murphy. However, the screenwriter-producer is facing an onset of backlash over an alleged “obsession” with biracial and interracial protagonists and relationships.
Regarding the matter, Barris, 48, explained to ESSENCE, “I feel like it’s insane to be honest with you. I laugh at it. I usually don’t even talk about it. It came from black-ish because I was doing a story about my family and my wife happens to be bi-racial and then the spinoff was grown-ish which was about one of the kids.”
He continued, “I will battle anybody. Show me my Black repertoire of what I’ve done and put it against anybody and I’ll go up against everybody. I’m by us for us. I feel like it just happens to sort of be a part of the conversation that people will find anything.”
Barris — who got his start on the set of 227 and in the writers’ room for hit sitcoms including The Game, Girlfriends, and Soul Food — created black-ish in 2014. Before it wrapped its eight-season run, he created its successful spinoff, grown-ish in 2018, that was recently renewed for a sixth season and its prequel mixed-ish in 2019. He also co-wrote Girls Trip with Harlem‘s Tracy Oliver. He’s also behind Netflix mockumentary series BlackAF, co-starring Rashida Jones.
Continuing to defend his Black card, Barris expressed, “We are so monolithic that people want to just have something to say because there’s not enough of us. So hopefully the more we do this, the more stories we can tell. They want all of our stories to be for everyone and that’s impossible. One story can’t speak to all of the Black experiences because there’s so many Black experiences.”
You People will debut on Netflix this Friday (Jan. 27).