Abbott Elementary: Importance of Black Media

Abbott Elementary: Importance of Black Media

If you’ve used any type of social media for the past couple of months, you undeniably have come across a scene from the hit tv show Abbott Elementary. Since its premiere in December of 2021, the show has skyrocketed to success and gained traction with each new episode release.

Abbott Elementary was exactly what television needed. Pure, innocent, fun. (I say this unironically.) Especially during the great amount of endless turmoil we’ve been experiencing since 2020.

Created by Quinta Brunson, who also stars and produces the show, Abbott Elementary is a mockumentary show about the lives of school teachers at the underly-funded Abbott.

The show focuses on the challenges teachers go through in order to create a good learning environment for the children and sheds a light on those who fight for this in ways that are not often heard about or even acknowledged.

“Abbott Elementary exists because a sixth grader grew up and never forgot how seen she felt by her teacher,” Twitter user @beandreadotcom comments.

Not only is the show important for spreading light on everyday issues in low-income areas, but it is also important for black people everywhere. (I’m calling this a black show because the majority of main characters are black.)

“I wanted to make a show that was easy television,” Brunson told MIC. “A lot of our television now is super long plot lines where you need to be there for every episode and every season to even understand what’s going on. And I think maybe a lot of us really were just missing the feeling of pop in, pop out television.”

It seems like things were surprisingly more progressive back during times when we had more challenges in the world. We had the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Everybody Hates Chris, Family Matters and Living Single.

Now you have two choices: black-ish or grown-ish. (Both are incredibly corny shows, I’m sorry to say.)

In an age where entertainment still hasn’t budged an inch from being predominantly white, every black show matters.

Abbott Elementary is an important show for the black community. And its success matters in ways more than what ratings and viewership tells.

Today we are still fighting for carefree black entertainment. There are endless amounts of movies and tv shows filled with white people doing the most useless things. 

Majority of the time when a black person steps in front of the camera, the story centers on trauma, hardships, or humiliation. It’s an endless amount of conversations about slavery or politics. 

And that’s not to say those stories are not important. For too long, our history has been buried and swept under the rug.

But why can’t there be a black character who does something completely stupid like win a ticket to a luxury ship and end up falling in love with someone after barely a week of knowing them?

Look up romance movies and you’ll find predominantly white films. Titanic, the Notebook, La La Land. While I love these movies, I can’t help but think when will it be our turn to get a happy ending? Why can’t we have happy, quirky, or weird characters? Why must we always be serious, angry, and always under pressure? 

Because black people don’t get to laugh. We don’t get to fall in love in the most whimsical and unrealistic way.

Why after all these years is there still only one black Disney princess? Why is the only live-action princess movie starring a black actress released over twenty years ago? What characters do black little girls and boys have to look up to?

Seeing that is important. Seeing a figure that resembles you on screen is important. Media is impossible to ignore in this current society.  A child growing up with nothing but white media warps their perception of the world. It even warps their perception of themselves. Children copy what they see. If all they see is white American culture then what happens to their blackness? Their culture?

Every show with black characters gives the opportunity for more kids to look up on a screen and envision themselves.

Abbott Elementary is a love letter to every teacher who went the extra mile in order to make a child feel noticed, understood, and loved.

And exposing them to media where characters that are identical to their skin color that isn’t full of extensive turmoil or traumatic experiences gives them hope.

Although, yes, as a black person, it is undeniable that a black child will go through something traumatic in their life.

With shows like Abbott Elementary, the door to non-trauma-centered entertainment can be opened more.