Season 5 episode 2 of Black-ish followed in the footsteps of its previous counterparts in delivering humorous but meaningful commentary on phenomenon faced by the black community in the USA today. This episode, in particular, revolved around Dre’s claim that “black people don’t snitch.”; and while stated humorously, this statement does hold some heavy truths. Taking in count that fact that the police force we have today in the USA evolved from slave patrols from the 1600s, and the historical context of police brutalizing and the controlling black bodies, to this day, the lack of trust in police felt by the black community is inevitable and justifiable. Furthermore, since the police force was created for white people to control black people, it explains white people’s ease with dialling 911 at minor inconveniences, and more darkly, the culture of weaponizing the police against black people which makes black people scared to call the police even at times of need. And as the episode goes on, it shows that this generationally institutionalized racism helps fuel the truthfulness of the statement “black people don’t snitch”; and it isn’t because black people are inherently “non-snitch-ers”, but because they don’t have the privilege, unlike their white counterparts, to call the police as they feel.
With that, the episode moves on to comment on the importance of families, especially black and brown ones and about the importance of having conversations about topics that are usually deemed uncomfortable or personal with their growing adolescents as they navigate this world. Specific to the central commentary of the episode, Dre is forced to have a conversation about race, specific to calling 911 on black people, with his son, Jack. This conversation may feel all too familiar to black parents and their kids since “put your hands up”, “do as they say”, and other usually traumatizing sayings have become survival techniques in the oppressive climate we live in. The uncomfortableness that Dre felt as he exposed his son to the fact that Jack will be judged and treated unfairly by the cops is a harsh reality that, sadly, must be faced at some point to survive in this racist society. But the knowledge Dre gives Jack by informing him about the fatal consequences of calling the police on black people is one all of us, especially non-black people should be internalizing; especially in the current height of racially bias 911 calls being made.
Along with Jack, Rainbow has a conversation with her daughters, Zoey and Diana, about another aspect of adult life that adolescences are discovering, which may be uncomfortable to talk about i.e. relationships. At the beginning of the episode, Diana is asked out on her first date but by the end of the episode, that does not work out since the boy, Wyatt, cancels on her. In the beginning, Diana was shutting out her mother in anything Wyatt related, as teenagers do, but by the end, she learns to talk to her mother about relationships; and even evolves to accept that it is okay for relationships to not work out sometimes.
— black-ish (@blackishabc) October 24, 2018
In the end, “Don’t You be my Neighbor”, showcases a black family’s perspective on the relationship between police and the black community in a particularly relevant time in history pertaining to racist 911 calls and the need for conversations between family members even if the topic may be uncomfortable at times. And personally, a memorable and important quote that can summarize the writers’ commentary on the underlying issue of calling the police on black people was Dre telling his unaware and privileged white neighbor Janine, who repeatedly tried to call the cops, “..you aren’t in danger, you are just uncomfortable.”