“Black-ish” Premiere Goes Musical

In the ABC sitcom’s bold season opener, Dre (Anthony Anderson) teams up with Aloe Blacc to create a musical about Juneteenth because he feels as though there aren’t enough black holidays. At first, his family (and his oblivious white co-workers) are resistant to the idea, but by the end of the episode, the entire Johnson family has come around to it: They (belatedly) celebrate the end of the slavery because they realize they’re tired of ignoring their culture in order to avoid making others uncomfortable.

Along the way, there are several musical numbers that directly address the United States’ fraught history with slavery. The Roots star in (and wrote) a hilarious animated sequence titled “I’m Just a Slave.” Then, the Johnson clan, dressed as slaves in the nineteenth century, perform two Hamilton-inspired, gospel choir-assisted songs. The first one, “We Built This,” bluntly states that slaves built the country, and the groovy “Juneteenth” is a simultaneously fun and sad (think “Angels” by Chance the Rapper) reflection on how life wasn’t immediately better for black people after they received their freedom.

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