Dear Mr. Barris:
I bring you greetings from Dem Cut Boyz barbershop in Birmingham, Ala., where the honorable Lamont Brinson is my barber. I send this letter after a delegation from my haircuttery elected me to speak on their behalf and, presumably, for all of our people.
Yesterday, during our busiest time of the day, we hosted a discussion about the recent Variety article revealing that the Feb. 27 installment of Black-ish, entitled “Please, Baby, Please,” had been shelved and replaced with a rerun. According to the report, the episode was canned because it dealt with the NFL kneeling issue and other political and social issues. We wanted to speak directly to you, Mr. Barris, because you are the creator of the show.
When we read that the episode featured Anthony Anderson’s character, Dre, telling a bedtime story about his fears and concerns over the state of the country, we all agreed that it was a brilliant idea. We all realize that America can only accept black truths if the revelations are embedded in dream sequences or superhero-movie overtones or set to a beat that causes Caucasians to dance. (And you know you can’t get dudes at a barbershop to agree on anything. In June 2016, while getting my beard trimmed, I argued that Serena Williams is the greatest athlete of all time—male or female—and they were still debating it yesterday.)
I’m sure you’ve been told a thousand times that Black-ish is one of the few shows ever on network television to capture the sentiment of black America. The “Freedom” musical episode was one of the highest-rated episodes ever on TV, according to the Nielsen ratings. (Jerome Nielsen is one of the barbers here. Every time someone mentions Black-ish, he plays the Roots’ “I’m Just a Slave” song on the boom box beside his barber chair.)
After an emergency meeting using Robert’s Rules of Order (Robert is one of our barbers who struggles with the bald fade, but he keeps very good order), we passed a motion to ask you one favor:
You have to leak the episode, bruh.
I’m sure you know that any request punctuated with the word “bruh” is very serious. We even took into account your quote in the article when you said, “Given our creative differences, neither ABC nor I were happy with the direction of the episode and mutually agreed not to air it.”
Even though you directed the episode and the show is one of the highest-rated and most awarded comedies on network television, we know that “mutually agreed,” in black parlance, means, “These white folks made the decision.” We mutually agreed to pick cotton for 400 years. We “mutually agreed” to Jim Crow. We “mutually agreed” to systemic inequality. We are tired of mutual agreements.
We are not asking you to do anything illegal or even immoral. We would never ask you to violate your contract because we need more seasons of Black-ish.
As such, here is our offer:
Dem Cut Boyz barbershop offers free haircuts for life to Mr. Kenya Barris. During one of your appointments, I predict that you will fall asleep during a hot shave. Somehow, LaTrice Briscoe’s bad-ass son, Deonte, will “find” the DVD or flash drive with the “Please, Baby, Please” episode in your pocket. (Trust me, lil’ Deonte is good at finding shit in people’s pockets.)
The episode will somehow end up being uploaded to YouTube, Facebook and black America’s favorite streaming service, WorldStarHipHop. I’m not saying this was planned. I’m just saying ...
We know that ABC is owned by Disney, which makes the network very sensitive to public sentiment. We also understand that, as a partner of the NFL, it doesn’t like criticism of the league. But this is your path to becoming an immortal legend and earning the title bestowed upon some of the all-time greats whose names are prefaced with the honorific “My nigga.”
Our plan offers plausible deniability to both you and the network, and the leaked episode going viral could lead to an increase in ratings. It’s a win-win for everyone.
We make this offer with no strings attached and hope you will consider our proposal. If not, we will still watch Black-ish with the same loyal admiration, knowing that you were unable to comply because of your “mutual agreement.”
Dem Cut Boyz