Last night, ABC's "Abbott Elementary" did something rare for contemporary television -- it defended a white character from being punished for the color of his skin.
Wednesday's episode, "Valentine's Day," was not "conservative" by any means as the white character, Jacob (Chris Perfetti), is a left-wing teacher on the show. Still, the episode rejected the idea that white teachers can't teach black students about black history.
In the episode, a student's black parent complains to the principal because a white teacher is teaching his son history during Black History Month.
Tristan: I'm here to complain.
Ava: Oh. Please continue.
Tristan: I take umbrage with the fact that Mr. Hill, a white teacher, is teaching black history to my son and other students during Black History Month.
Ava: Okay, Mr. Umbrage. What do you want me to do about it?
Tristan: You could have a black teacher teaching it.
Ava: Or we could keep having Mr. Hill teach it, because if you think about it, underpaying a white teacher to teach Black history is almost reparation. Fine. Well, I can't do anything until I observe for myself. Never heard you utter a word. Now you bust out "umbrage."
The show's running joke about Ava is that she is a principal who has zero interest in learning or education. She blackmailed her way into the job and spends working hours on personal vanity projects. But after agreeing to monitor Jacob's class, she becomes fascinated by his lectures, shows up every week and takes notes on the material.
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The running joke about Jacob is that he is an uber-woke "progressive" ideologue to the point where he annoys his colleagues. In this episode, his leftist leanings are in the classroom and given more seriousness.
Jacob: Like Phase 1 Tony Stark, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were both anti-capitalists.
Student: You seem a little shaky, Mr. Hill. Are you good?
Jacob: Oh, yeah. I'm good. I am...totally fine. Ava has been in my last three classes, okay? Either this is some time-intensive prank, or I am getting fired...for teaching black history. I flew too close to the sun. Like an anti-racist Icarus. Yes, uh, Principal Coleman?
Ava: Just making sure you don't leave out the part about Martin Luther King Jr. wanting universal basic income. You mentioned it two periods ago, but you forgot to mention it last period.
Jacob: Uh, thank you, Ms. Coleman, for publicly calling me in. You know what? Let's course-correct. Everybody grab a partner. We are gonna do some paired reading, okay? I think we've got an odd number today, so there's gonna have to be a group of three.
Ava: Why don't you just pair somebody up with me? [ Students gasp.]
Jacob: You want to...read?
Ava: It be your own teachers, don't it.
Jacob is definitely the sort of teacher who would focus on anti-capitalism and universal basic income. I doubt he balances that with the economic ideas of black conservatives, like Thomas Sowell.
However, Jacob isn't under fire for his ideological bent. He's targeted for being white while teaching black students.
Ava rejects this attitude. When the complaining parent returns, she makes clear that Jacob will continue to teach the kids.
Paul: Oh. Hey, Dad.
Ava: Paul and I were just discussing today's black history lesson.
Tristan: And I bet it was better considering Mr. Hill wasn't teaching it.
Ava: Oh, he was teaching it, and he's gonna continue to. Don't judge him by the color of his skin or by the content of his class. Wow. I just made that up! [ Giggles ]
Tristan: So you didn't listen to any of my concerns?
Ava: Why are you just now getting concerned? I found out in class that Jacob teaches about black historical figures all year, not just February. Did you just start paying attention this month?
Tristan: Oh. I didn't know that.
Ava: Nor did I. Looks like we both learned something today. [ Chuckles softly.]
Paul: See you later.
Ava: What a shame. So hot, yet so very annoying.
In an entertainment environment riddled with anti-white hostility, it's sad that a show feels refreshing just for refusing to punish a white character for the color of his skin.
While "Valentine's Day" leaned left in the classroom, it's storyline also resisted the anti-white discrimination of today's radical left. In 2023, that alone makes "Abbott Elementary" unique.
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