Every now and then, the youth choir of Black Twitter Baptist sings a song we’ve all heard once or twice before. In this week’s edition of not-so-new-news that gets resurfaced every 5-6 years or so, folks on the internet have rediscovered Ice Cube’s controversial race swapping series “Black. White.” and nobody is ok. The show produced by NWA’s very own back in 2006 followed two families, one Black and one white, as they “swapped races” for six weeks. And yes, every moment is as cringe worthy as expected. Since I was too busy in ‘06 leaning and rocking to be bothered with such a show, I thought I’d spend Sunday revisiting the tragedy that has the Twitterverse in meltdown mode.
“Black. White.” goes for the gusto from the very beginning with Ice Cube’s rap diddle for the title sequence. Lines like “Just because I look wrong, I’m about to do right,” and Black as midnight, or bright as Snow White, you better do me right or Imma have to take flight,” stand out to me as Grammy worthy lyrical achievements here. Of course, these are not to be outdone by the song’s outro, the repetition of “did you get your race caaaard?”
Both the Black and white families, (from Atlanta and Santa Monica, respectively), were made up from head to toe to look like the opposite race. The show producers followed each family, both of which included a husband, wife, and teenage child in their day to day interactions with society. The white family went on “adventures” like attending a Black church, while the Black family engaged in activities such as golfing, and everyone’s favorite…shoe shopping as a white man.
“And then the most amazing thing happened,” Brian the Black patriarch commented. “They took my foot and put it in the shoe.” Ah, freedom.
In order to dial up the drama just a bit, the FX series not only dolled the participants up on a day to day basis (hello blackface), but they put both families under the same roof of a house in the Valley. And this folks, is where we see the real fireworks.
At one point during a roundtable discussion about the experience with both families present, Bruno, father and head of the white family blurts out:
“I’ll be honest. I’m just waiting for someone to say, ‘hey, how’re you doing, n****r?!’” Mayhem of course ensues.
While some are shocked that Ice Cube was behind the solitary season series, others were in support of the show and what it offered to the conversation around race at the time. One Twitter user wrote:
“Black. White. Was a good reality show. I watched the whole season. It showed the hate people had for each other, but how EVERYONE only see color not the person. #icecube was ahead of his time.”
Others are finding it hilarious that the show is making the rounds for critique on YouTube, and in online activist circles sixteen years later.
“I guess people just now found out about Ice Cube making Black White and it’s just really funny to see all the one-day activists complaining about a show from 2006,” another tweet read.
Analyzing this show this late in the game may not be as simple as black and white, but boy does it make for a great debate.