Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Black-ish’s Kenya Barris is tired of answering questions about “diversity”

(Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
(Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

A question posed during yesterday’s Television Critics Association summer press tour panel for Black-ish got the show’s creator, Kenya Barris, discussing about why he’s tired of talking about “diversity.” The exchange began when a reporter wanted the show’s producers to divulge “statistics or information” about the racial demographics of the comedy’s audience. “I was wondering if you could share that and maybe share how that information shapes your sensibilities about how you write,” he inquired. (He prefaced this with an invocation of a two-year-old tweet from Donald Trump, of all people. That did not please actress Jenifer Lewis, who plays Ruby on the show.)

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Star and executive producer Laurence Fishburne was the first to respond, remarking, “What an odd question.” Then Barris took over, voicing his frustration. “I would be so happy when diversity is not a word,” he said. “You know what I’m saying? I have the best job in the world, and I am constantly having to talk about diversity. I have the best actors. It’s ridiculous. We are at a time when everything is about black and white and this and that.” He later added: “It didn’t matter who is watching our show. The fact is that they’re watching it, and I feel like every question, every panel, and I’m tired, so I’m so tired of talking about diversity. These are amazing talented actors and amazing writers who give their all and don’t have to do this, and it’s clouding the conversation.”

Barris explained that he sees the show not as a Black show, but as a “a good family show.” He then started asking some questions of his own: “Don’t you see yourself in it? Don’t you see your family reflected in it? Why is that important who watches the show? Why does it matter? Why do we keep having these conversations? Why can’t we just look at this show for what it is and celebrate these actors?”

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Barris’ comments earned plaudits from Shonda Rhimes, who tweeted #AskHimMore, a reference to #AskHerMore, a campaign that aims to inspire red-carpet hosts and their ilk to ask female celebrities about more substantial topics than “who are you wearing?”

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(Reporting by Erik Adams.)

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