You know, in the Trump administration, it’s easy to tell you bad news. We’re inundated with it 24/7. The United States, even before Trump was elected, was already full of injustice, but with him in office, all we hear is bad news, non-stop.
And I’m going to be frank, my job as a writer and commentator is mainly to make sense of it all and tell you what we can do about it, but this morning I have some good news for us.
I swear my segment this morning is not a paid advertisement but I want to take a few minutes to tell you how amazing I think the new TV show Black Lightning is and why it’s important that we watch it.
On last Tuesday, the season premiere of the show came on CW, and if you missed it, just Google the words “Black Lightning.” CW is showing the first episode for free online and the second episode comes on tonight. Set your DVR or watch it live.
Listen, I don’t know if you are into ratings and reviews, but I’m a review junkie. Black Lightning has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – which is the absolute best score a show can receive. Last week, the season premier had the highest ratings of any debut for a superhero show for DC Comics and DC has had at least a dozen different shows on television.
If you missed the first episode, I don’t want to give too much away, but the show is about a middle aged father, who left behind being a superhero in the inner city, so that he could attempt to live a normal life for his family. He has two wonderful daughters, is divorced, but is trying to reconcile his marriage, but the injustice in his hometown gets so personal that for the first time in 10 years, he decides to put his superhero suit back on, and get to work.
So listen – the show is written, produced, and directed by black folk. From top to bottom it has an absolutely amazing black cast. And it’s in primetime. Now maybe I’m forgetting a TV show, but in my entire lifetime, I don’t think we’ve been able to say that about a superhero show on regular television.
We’ve had our own comedies. We’ve even started to have our own dramas and action-based shows, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a show featuring a black superhero, with a black cast, with black writers and a director, on regular television.
I’m a big fan of Luke Cage, but its rated R, on Netflix, and I can’t watch it with my kids. Now, Black Lightning pushes the PG-13 envelope. It’s a full-fledged PG-13. I don’t mind it, but I wouldn’t watch it with kids much younger than that.
I thought the first episode was nearly perfect. And it was the little things, the nuances of black life and culture that it got just right, that took it over the top for me. Now it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t get serious for a second.
One of my favorite scholars of all-time is a brother named Amos Wilson. When you get a chance, go to Amazon and type his name in there, and get his books. He passed away a few years ago, but every single thing Dr. Wilson wrote is as timely and powerful as when he first wrote it.
My favorite book of his is called “The Developmental Psychology of the Black Child.” I first read it when I was a student at Morehouse twenty years ago and I never forgot it.
In it, he talks about what it does to the self-esteem, what it does to the imagination, what it does the development of the brain of a black child when all they see on TV, in cartoons, in comics, in the toy sections of stores, are white superheroes who look nothing like them. Wilson breaks down how seeing nothing but white superheroes actually causes many black children to revere whiteness and subconsciously believe that it’s a required trait to be a hero.
For the first few years of a kid’s life, they may love Spider-Man or Wonder Woman and not think twice about their skin color, but as they get older, in this super race conscious world that we live, they will sadly come to understand that those characters don’t look or talk or live like them. And that’s a problem.
It’s why it was powerful when President Obama leaned over to let the young black boy who was visiting the white house rub on his hair after the boy noticed that his hair was just like Obama’s hair.
That’s why I’m glad we have Black Lightning. It’s why I’m glad Black Panther comes out in a few weeks. It’s why I love Luke Cage.
If you haven’t watched Black Lightning, it’s not too late to start. Check it out and spread the word. We’ve been fighting for stuff like this forever, now we have to show the world that these types of shows can succeed.
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