Rewatching Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Episode on Racism + Resources for Change

It is a fitting time to rewatch Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s season four, episode 16, “Moo Moo.” The show has taken on social justice issues before, and this episode is just as thought-provoking as the rest. It makes me uncomfortable to watch, as it should. It’s a reminder that we need to sit in our discomfort and inform ourselves about racism, because looking away is participating in injustice. Our discomfort is nothing compared to the black people who are losing their lives because of the colour of their skin.

I appreciate that this episode has two storylines—Terry confronting a white cop who accosts him on the street for no reason, and Jake and Amy babysitting Terry’s girls and struggling with how to explain racism to them.

Gina: Ugh. Come on, Jake. Just explain the deep-rooted institutionalized racism that remains pervasive in this country to this day.
Jake: Gina, they’re children.
Gina: So put it in a song, Jake.

My initial reaction would be to avoid telling these kids about racism, because it’s depressing, scary, and sad, and I wouldn’t want them having to face it at such a young age. But that’s the easy way out. By not teaching children about racism, we are participating in injustice.

Jake: A cop did a bad thing and tried to get your daddy in trouble, but your daddy didn’t do anything wrong.
Lacey: Because Daddy’s black?
Jake: Yeah.
Lacey: That’s scary.

I’m appalled by many responses to the riots in my social media feed—responses like, “Why can’t people protest peacefully?” and “I’m sorry for the death of George Floyd, but…” Yes, violence is always awful, and I’m against it, too. But by overlooking the years of racism and peaceful protests that have not resulted in change, we are participating in injustice. By not doing everything in our power to stop racism and ignoring it in favour of “all lives matter,” we are participating in injustice.

Terry: When I got stopped the other day, I wasn’t a cop. I wasn’t a guy who lived in a neighborhood looking for his daughter’s toy. I was a black man, a dangerous black man. That’s all he could see: a threat. And I couldn’t stop thinking about my daughters, and their future. And how years from now, they could be walking down the street… and get stopped by a cop. And they probably won’t get to play the police card to get out of trouble.

I’m encouraged by other responses on social media: people rising up to speak out for our black brothers and sisters, attending rallies, donating, not remaining complacent. Of course, it’s not about us. We should have been this outraged a long time ago. I’m angry, afraid, and anxious to my bones. I hope and pray for change. I’m sorry for staying silent for so long.

What can we do? Here are some ideas: educate ourselves, sign petitions, donate, attend a rally, support black authors and creators, support minority-owned businesses, teach children about racism. For further reading:

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A chronically ill, geeky writer’s thoughts on being sick. Disclaimer: Not medical advice. Not a request for medical advice.

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