Cultural appropriation and an identity crisis take center stage in Tuesday’s Season 2 premiere of mixed-ish. Johan was called a “really bad name” at school which, according to Rainbow, is so horrible, it doesn’t bear repeating. Paul and Alicia assume it’s that word and immediately try to comfort their son until they realize they’re dealing with an entirely different racial slur: beaner.
Some of the kids at school think Johan is Mexican, and he hasn’t corrected them. For Johan, it was easier not to say anything to his friends, since they assumed he wasn’t Black. Rainbow is upset that he’s been lying about his identity, while Santamonica is perfectly fine with it because she pretends to be different people all the time.
Johan’s revelation brings up an important issue: Did Paul and Alicia’s colorblind parenting while on the commune make him ashamed of his heritage? In an attempt to encourage their kids to be proud of their Blackness, Paul and Alicia gather the family to watch The Color Purple (but definitely not because someone else had already rented Roots). The plan backfires, however, and the kids have some troubling takeaways: Johan thinks the film says the world hates Black people, while Santamonica wonders if the lesson is that kids can be easily taken from their moms.
Another issue arises when Johan reveals that he was called the racial slur by another Black kid. Confused as to why another Black kid wouldn’t know their son is Black, Alicia realizes her experience is different from her kids, who are mixed.
At the end of the episode, Rainbow confronts her brother for lying about his identity and accuses him of being ashamed of his Blackness. Johan explains that he’s not ashamed but tired of the constant questions about his heritage. Rainbow also deals with those annoying questions but doesn’t let them get to her.
“It’s not my job to make other people feel comfortable and it’s not your job either,” she tells Johan. “And if anyone has a problem with that, I will always have your back.”
Johan hears her loud and clear, putting this week’s issue to bed.
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