Anthony Anderson Discusses Talking to His TV and Real-Life Children About Police Brutality

In February, black-ish released the episode “Hope,” which led the New York Times to laud it for being “a sitcom that’s not just timely but up to the challenge of its times.” The episode of the comedy series took on the gravely un-comedic issue of racialized police brutality, seeing the Johnson family responding to news of another incident of police brutality that resulted in no indictment for the officer responsible, and having to have “The Talk” with their children about the issue, and the deep-seated problems of the country in which they’re being raised. Today, The Hollywood Reporter published their massive roundtable with TV comedy actors (Anthony Anderson, Jeffrey Tambour, Aziz Ansari, Keegan-Michael Key, Tony Hale, and Jerrod Carmichael).

Among the many questions posed by THR (including key influences — Ansari said Amy Poehler ran Parks and Rec with “such class” while Key cutely brings up Jordan Peele and Tony Hale mentions another present actor, Jeffrey Tambour — issues of representation, and the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to them as actors), black-ish star Anderson was asked about that particular episode of the series. Anderson discussed not only talking about the issue with his own family, but with his onset children (particularly Miles Brown and Marsai Martin, who play his younger children), and particularly how the making of the actual episode reflected the tough conversations that had to be broached within it. He said:

Kenya [Barris, the show’s creator] has five children, and he was watching the news with his younger sons, and one of his sons turned to him and said, “Dad, why is everybody so angry?” He was forced into that conversation with his child. We were dealing with this and looking at the young actors who play Jack and Diane on our show; those were the same questions they had because they’re so innocent and pure. They’re only 10. So we found ourselves having to have real conversations with these young actors about what’s going on in the world and why it’s important for us to tackle these issues…My children are 16 and 20, but these are conversations that we have had. You have to tackle these things head-on so your children know what they’re dealing with in this world. I’m pretty sure we’ve all created a vacuum which our children live in because we want to protect them, but that’s not the real world.

black-ish, which first aired in 2014, was renewed for a third season in March.