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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while this potentially controversial series contains strong language, it explores the issue of racism in such a way that older teens could learn valuable lessons from watching. The show really gets viewers thinking about what it might be like for a white person to have the "black experience" and vice versa.
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What's the story?
FX's reality show BLACK. WHITE. takes a black family and a white family, "changes" their race through the use of makeup and hairpieces -- the black family becomes white, and vice versa -- and brings them together to live in the same house. The purpose of the experiment (which is executive produced by rapper/actor Ice Cube, among others) is to get whites and blacks to see the world through each other's eyes and then discuss their experiences with one another. Each family -- the African-American Sparks family and the Caucasian Wurgels -- includes a mother, father, and teenager. As is to be expected, not everyone is enthusiastic about the experiment, which creates some friction right from the start. As the various family members do things like going to a slam poetry group, attending seminars about racial differences, working as a bartender in a white neighborhood, or simply walking down the street in a black neighborhood, they're all in for some stunning revelations.
Is it any good?
It's encouraging to finally see a reality show with good intentions and a serious message, as opposed to all the drivel out there meant simply to entertain (or disgust) viewers. The show's conclusions about basic racial differences may not exactly surprise most viewers; what's truly surprising are some of the things the participants had never thought about -- or had always just assumed -- concerning the other race.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about racism and how it affects the way we perceive things. Do you think black people interpret white people's actions a certain way because they expect to be discriminated against? Do white people act a certain way around blacks because of stereotypes? Have you ever been discriminated against because of your race? How did it make you feel? Another discussion topic could be how family members treat one another on the show -- whether within each family or across the two families. What are some examples of when they're supportive and understanding? What are some examples of when they're insensitive toward each other? Is any of it racially motivated?