Why The Black-ish Episode About Athletes Taking A Knee Won't Air

Black-ish has never been afraid to weigh in on today’s politics. They’ve done episodes on police brutality, the N-word, and most recently, the prison industrial complex. Unfortunately, though, fans won’t get to see black-ish weigh in on the national debate over athletes kneeling during the national anthem.
According to Variety, an episode of black-ish about kneeling athletes has been pulled due to “creative differences.” The episode titled “Please, Baby, Please” was initially set to air Feb. 27, but has been “indefinitely shelved” by ABC with no plans to air in the future. In a statement to Variety, a network spokesperson said, “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.”
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The episode reportedly involves Dre (Anthony Anderson) talking about his concern over the direction the country’s taking, and arguing with his eldest son Andre, Jr. (Marcus Scribner) about whether athletes should kneel during the national anthem. In response to the episode’s shelving, creator Kenya Barris told Variety, “Given our creative differences, neither ABC nor I were happy with the direction of the episode and mutually agreed not to air it.”
It’s unclear what these creative differences were that led to the agreement, but it’s clear this is a debate worth having in the public sphere. Especially since President Donald Trump hasn’t been shy about sharing his opinions on the matter. After Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, Trump tweeted 20 times about athletes protesting. In one message he wrote, “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”
Back in September, Trump even went so far as to say athletes should be fired or suspended for kneeling: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
For now, black-ish won’t discuss athlete protests, but Barris made it clear to Variety that the show will continue to have the hard conversations. “Black-ish is a show that has spoken to all different types of people and brought them closer as a community,” Barris said, “and I’m so proud of the series.”
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