Black-ish creator Kenya Barris made an exasperated appearance at the show’s TCA panel on Thursday, when talk turned towards a topic with which the cast and creative team is incredibly familiar: diversity. According to Deadline, frustration brewed when a reporter asked if Barris knew how much of Black-ish’s audience was black and whether or not that data informed the show. Barris reportedly responded: “I will be so happy when diversity is not a word … I have the best job in the world and I’m constantly having to talk about diversity … I have the best actors. This is ridiculous. … It doesn’t matter who’s watching our show … The fact is that they’re watching it.” According to Variety, Barris added: “I get so tired of talking about diversity. These are amazing, talented actors and amazing writers who give their all and they don’t have to do this. It’s crowding the conversation.”
Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross also jumped into the conversation, pointing out that shows that are actually doing the work of diverse representation are the ones who bear the brunt of concerns about the issue. Of the reporter who brought up the subject, Variety says Ross demanded: “Is that a question that you’ve asked other shows that are not predominately of a certain color?” When the reporter answered “not really,” Ross continued, “Those questions continue the conversation in a direction that does not help the conversation.”
Barris also noted that the narrow fixation on Black-ish as part of the diversity conversation has denied the show its more universal qualities. He said: “We always have to box everything in … Isn’t it just a good family show? It’s specifically about a black family. We’re not denying that. But don’t you see yourself in it? Don’t you see your family in it? … Why is that important, who watched the show? Why does it matter? Why do we keep having to have these conversations?” Even if we keep having these conversations, it’s clearly time to rethink who we go to for answers.