'Black-ish' Stars Tackle the 'N-Word' Debate in Provocative Premiere

by Raphael Chestang 8:39 PM PDT, September 23, 2015
Playing 'Black-ish' Stars Tackle the 'N-Word' Debate in Provocative Premiere

Black-ish stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross chatted with ET ahead of their non-PC season premiere, dealing with the N-word and its usage.

"I'm not going to lie, I use it," Anderson told ET. "I'm not proud of my use of it."

"Personally, I do not use it," Ross said. "I wouldn't know how to use it."

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"Young people of every color and every ethnicity are using it as a term of endearment," Laurence Fishburne chimed in before recalling a time the word was used in a derogatory way. "I can tell you about a phone call I got from some anonymous people, and when I confronted them, one of the guys said, 'Well, just remember you're always a dirty n---er.'"

The episode, which features the word 10 times in 22 minutes, shows Dre (Anderson) and Rainbow's (Ross) 10-year-old son, Jack (Miles Brown) giving an uncensored performance of Kanye West's "Gold Digger" at a school talent show, leading to his possible expulsion.

Show creator/executive producer Kenya Barris told ET that he was concerned about how the episode would be received, but Anderson was worry-free when we spoke to him.

"It's just a word," Anderson said. "It's only powerful if you give it power."

Anderson added that Barris addressed everyone on the show prior to shooting.

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"Day one of filming, Kenya came down and just made an announcement to the crew, 'This is what the show is going to be about. By no means are we condoning the use of this word, and if it's offensive to anyone, we apologize to you right now,'" Anderson said.

Barris explained that they didn't do the episode for the sake of controversy.

"We did it because we really wanted to tell a good story," Barris said.

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According to Ross, the point of the episode isn't to determine what's right and what's wrong, but to let viewers decide for themselves.

"We kind of look at it and allow everybody to have their own dialogue about this topic," Ross said.

Black-ish airs Wednesdays on ABC.