5 reasons ABC must air cancelled ‘Black-ish’ episode about NFL protests

ABC recently pulled an episode of the hit show that centered on the "Take a Knee" debate.

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(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images )

Black-ish is a show known for tackling tough social issues, but a recent episode about “Take a Knee” was reportedly shelved indefinitely due to creative differences.

The episode entitled “Please Baby, Please,” was originally slated to air on February 27, but was replaced by a rerun after the show’s producer, Kenya Barris, failed to reach an agreement with ABC executives.

“Given our creative differences, neither ABC nor I were happy with the direction of the episode and mutually agreed not to air it. Black-ish is a show that has spoken to all different types of people and brought them closer as a community and I’m so proud of the series,” said Barris.

The network issued its own statement on the matter.

“One of the things that has always made ‘Black-ish’ so special is how it deftly examines delicate social issues in a way that simultaneously entertains and educates. However, on this episode there were creative differences we were unable to resolve,” an ABC spokesperson told Variety.

According to reports, the episode “features Anthony Anderson’s patriarch Dre caring for his infant son on the night of an intense thunderstorm that keeps the whole household awake. Dre attempts to read the baby a bedtime story, but abandons that plan when the baby continues to cry. He instead improvises a bedtime story that, over the course of the episode, conveys many of Dre’s concerns about the current state of the country. The episode covers multiple political and social issues. In one scene, Dre and oldest son Junior (Marcus Scribner) argue over the rights of athletes to kneel during the performance of the national anthem at football games.”

Why ABC pulled controversial National Anthem protest episode of ‘Black-ish’

Here are 5 reasons ABC should air the episode:

It’s on-brand for the show.

Black-ish has covered controversial topics since its premiere in 2014. Throughout its four seasons on the air, the show has hit on issues including postpartum depression, slavery, police brutality, and Donald Trump. What makes the “Take a Knee” debate off-limits? The show has won numerous awards and received widespread praise for “going there” and now it seems the “there” is too far when it threatens to offend a group with deep pockets.

The movement has been hijacked.

The “Take a Knee” movement has been hi-jacked by folks who insist NFL players are disrespecting military members by refusing to stand during the National Anthem. Last time I checked, standing during a song isn’t the only way to show appreciation for the men and women of the armed forces. Plenty of players who have refused to stand (including Colin Kaepernick) continue to contribute to worthy causes and support our veterans.

Both sides should be heard.

All of the back-and-forth banter about “Take a Knee” has overshadowed the fact that athletes (professional and otherwise) have the right to make their voices heard and their efforts to convey their feelings about the current state of the union is a right under the constitution. And a show like Black-ish has the opportunity to illuminate both sides of the argument in a way that avoids the usual rhetoric that continues to cloud the real issues at hand.

‘Black-ish’ creator Kenya Barris: We’re tired of talking about diversity at every panel

Not all military members are offended by ‘Take a Knee.”

In an exclusive interview with TheGrio, MAJ Jas Boothe explained that the movement isn’t necessarily offensive to veterans, even though its detractors continue to push that narrative.

“I don’t like to be used. I don’t like my service to be weaponized for a political purpose. That’s what irritated me about it. They were clear in why they were kneeling so whether you agree with it or not, there are people who made it about my military service when it was never about that. For a veteran, me, a person who is serving, they may get personally offended because we stand for the flag. You kneeling might piss me off because I’m like ‘ Hey don’t you see a flag? But I know what you’re doing is not against me,” she says.

“I’m more offended that there are 22 veterans committing suicide on a daily basis. I’m more offended by the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of veterans who are homeless. If you care so much about me, do something that is going to help my brothers and sisters and not just a gesture. There are much bigger issues affecting veterans that need to be addressed and supported than the fact that someone is taking a knee.”

ABC is making money moves.

Our guess is that ABC, which is owned by Disney (which owns ESPN) is terrified of catching the wrath of the NFL. Their games are a huge destination for viewers and we’re thinking the network is letting the potential loss of coins influence their decision to sensor the show. While television is of course, a business, something doesn’t feel right about allowing the NFL to influence what kind of art the public is permitted to have access to. Black-ish is a form of art, and shelving the episode feels a lot like burning books that the powers that be don’t approve of.