Avery Wilson’s haunting rendition of “Strange Fruit” opened this Thursday’s grown-ish and quickly established the imperative that this was the collegiate comedy’s Black Lives Matter episode.
Of course Aaron, who wakes up looking for power to fight, would be protesting against police brutality. But so was Doug, who had previously taken an apathetic stance on the issue; he had a change of heart after the police shot and killed an unarmed Black man and a weaponless Black boy within days of one another. Zoey also pulled up and protested alongside Jazz, Nomi, Ana, Luca, Kiki and Javi in the installment titled “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See,” written by Insecure‘s Wade Allain-Marcus.
The crew’s righteous and civil disobedience came to a halt, however, when the police announced that Los Angeles would be enforcing a curfew. Aaron, Doug, Luca and his younger sister Kiki decided to relocate downtown so that they could protest and break the curfew off campus, while Zoey, Jazz and Nomi went home. Ana and Javi decided to grab a bite to eat.
While waiting in line at a food truck, Javi spotted two officers and thanked them for their service. The act not only angered fellow protestors, who were also getting food, but embarrassed Ana, who wondered what the heck her boyfriend was thinking. When they got to his place, Ana asked Javi why he would say such an insensitive and tone-deaf thing in front of Black protestors. Javi didn’t see the problem, he said, and added that he and Ana both have relatives in the military.
Later, when Ana learned that Kiki had been tear-gassed, she told Javi and he said he felt bad for Kiki. Never one to let things go, Ana then asked Javi if he now saw why his comment to the police was tone-deaf. Javi didn’t, and the two argued until Javi said that being a couple shouldn’t be so hard. Ana agreed, and the two broke up.
Over at Zoey’s, tension was also mounting after Jazz mentioned that she was getting texts from friends of hers who were rioting and looting. Nomi commented that she didn’t understand why “those people” would destroy property like that. An offended Zoey retorted with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote that describes rioting as the “language of the unheard.” She pointed out that Nomi was criticizing the oppressed and not their oppressors.
Jazz argued that Nomi had a limited view about this type of protesting because she is white and privileged. As Nomi grew defensive, Jazz pointed out her “white fragility.” Nomi walked away in a huff and called her mom, who said as parents they had raised Nomi not to see color, causing Nomi to explain that not seeing people’s color was part of the problem. Suddenly, she heard herself and realized that her white fragility had prevented her from seeing her friends’ perspectives.
Nomi returned to Jazz and Zoey and apologized for being so closed minded. The three hugged and realized that with true honesty, friendships can survive anything — even racial and cultural blind spots.
What did you think of grown-ish‘s Black Lives Matter protest episode? And do you think Nomi has truly seen the light? Drop your thoughts in the comments.