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7 ways black America saw itself in "Everybody Hates Chris"

Preezy Brown

 // May 8, 2019

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.


Over the course of the past few decades, a number of television shows centered around the black family have become staples within pop culture. One sitcom that captured the hearts of America -- including households of all backgrounds -- was "Everybody Hates Chris," a show loosely based on comedian Chris Rock's childhood in Brooklyn, New York.

Debuted in September 2005, "Everybody Hates Chris" became a big hit among viewers, who praised it not only for its comedic value, but authentic takes on various dynamics and subjects within the black community. Earning rave reviews and critical acclaim -- including an NAACP Image Awards for the show's writing, as well as various nominations at the Golden Globe and Emmy Awards -- "Everybody Hates Chris" earned a rightful place in the hearts of the people, as one of the greatest family-friendly sitcoms of its time.

A decade since its final episode, REVOLT looked back at this classic sitcom and listed seven ways black America saw itself in "Everybody Hates Chris."



1. Julius' Frugal Ways

Chris' father, Julius (played by Terry Crews), is one of the more endearing characters on the show, known for giving sage advice to his children and his relentless work ethic. Like many fathers in black America, Julius' shameless frugality in an attempt to keep the rent paid and the lights on bordered on comical, and mirrored the actions of many men in our everyday lives.

2. Rochelle's Devotion To Her Children

A mother's love knows no boundaries, particularly in the black community, where life can be fleeting at times. Chris' mother, Rochelle (played by Tichina Arnold), is emblematic of sassy, no-nonsense matriarchs with a nurturing spirit underneath their tough exterior. Infamous for demanding the best out of her children, while giving them words of encouragement, Rochelle's parenting style and devotion to her children resonated with many black mothers.

3. Tonya's Feisty Ways

The feisty nature of young girls in the black community can be intimidating, but it's a byproduct of their demands for respect; which Chris' sister, Tanya (played by played by Imani Hakim), seeks out whenever she's not wreaking havoc on her older brothers. Highly mischievous, albeit possessing an angelic touch, Tanya's spunky attitude and shrewd ways are put on full display throughout the show's four seasons, as she evolves from a spoiled young diva into a poster child for black girl magic.



4. Riski's Bargained Goods

In the urban community, there's always a street-wise merchant hustling various counterfeit or secondhand goods at cut-rate prices to make ends meet. In the world of "Everybody Hates Chris," Riski (played by Mike Estime), assumes that role by serving as a one-stop shop for the denizens of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. While the origins of where Riski's merchandise came from are shady, his stewardship to the public on the show reflects the ingenuity of street entrepreneurs worldwide.

5. Rochelle and Julius' Marriage

Black love may be all the rage in 2019, but in the past, the perception of the broken family cast a dark cloud over how relationships and marriage in the black community were viewed. Claire and Cliff Huxtable may have presented mainstream America with one of the first glimpses of a functional black family, but Rochelle and Julius' union in "Everybody Hates Chris" gave an even more pragmatic view of that dynamic. While a number of television shows have put more affluent black characters on the small screen, Rochelle and Julius' love was symbolic of the unbreakable bond between black husbands and their wives, regardless of their circumstances.

6. Drew's Black Excellence

Stereotypes of what defines manhood in the black community can stifle a young child's interests and pursuits. However, in "Everybody Hates Chris," the lead character's younger brother, Drew (played by Tequan Richmond), shatters the mold. Handsome and athletic -- and with a zest for academics and knowledge -- Drew's character presented an alternative version to the bad boy image of young black boys in America. His gravitation toward activities like watching hockey and performing magic, as well as his idolization of Wayne Gretzky -- opposed to a basketball or football player -- broke the monolith of what a popular, suave young kid in the inner-city could be.



7. Chris' Friendship With Greg

In a time where race relations have become a bit strained, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the black community has shown the ability to embrace individuals of all colors and creeds. In "Everybody Hates Chris," the protagonist's friendship with Greg (played by Vincent Martella) -- a fellow Brooklynite of Italian and Swedish descent with a privileged background -- reflects the reality of how many black children interact with kids of other races and find common ground, regardless of their differences. Navigating the peaks and valleys of coming-of-age as a tandem, Chris and Greg's brotherhood is tested on various occasions. However, their camaraderie is a reminder that true friendship has no color.


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