Black-ish creator Kenya Barris was not pleased when a journalist asked him about the percentage of African Americans that tune into the ABC comedy during a Television Critics Association panel on Thursday (Aug. 4).
To make matters worse, The Hollywood Reporter states that the journalist reminded the show runner that Donald Trump had “weighed and tweeted something about it being racist.”
Barris didn’t mince words in his clap back. “I will be so happy when diversity is not a word. I have the best job in the world and I am constantly having to talk about diversity. I have the best actors. It’s ridiculous,” the NAACP Image Award recipient responded. “We’re in a time when everything is about black and white, and this and that. We get opportunities and we are happy to be the people who can step up and say, ‘We can do this.’ But these are amazing actors. It doesn’t matter who is watching our show. The fact is that they’re watching it.”
Black-ish has curated massive success since its 2014 debut, but Barris believes the focus on diversity distracts from the essence of his show. “I feel like every question at every panel … I’m so tired of talking about diversity. These are amazing, talented actors and amazing writers who give their all … and it’s clouding the conversation.”
Tracee Ellis Ross put a lid on the conversation after adding her thoughts. “Is that a question that you’ve asked other shows that are not predominantly of a certain color?” she asked the journalist to which he admitted, “Not necessarily.”
“We’re so divisive as a community and we always have to box everything in, and I kind of feel like, isn’t it just a good family show?” Barris continued. “It’s specifically about a black family, but don’t you see yourself in it? Don’t you see your family reflected in it? Why is that important who watches the show? Why does it matter? Why do we have to keep having these conversations? Why can’t we just look at the show for what it is and celebrate these actors?”
The push for diversity has generally been celebrated within the entertainment industry, but Barris’ questions make room to ask whether or not the outcome has been positive or damaging. What are your thoughts?