Office race relations hit a peak in 2020, as so many companies attempted to “reconcile” with race within their companies. BIPOC employees everywhere knew what a disaster these sessions would become. However, every company did it, and the result was the same. In companies with predominantly white employees, the conversation was about race relations, but the speakers speak at the employees of color and those employees do not speak back. No show has tackled this phenomenon like Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist did in their midseason finale episode entitled “Reckoning.”
The episode is actually a continuation of the previous storyline. The character Simon (played John Clarence Stewart) deciding if he would blow the whistle on a racist situation within his company or stay quiet. Both episodes were written by a team led by Zora Bikaganga. Bikaganga and Stewart actually spent time discussing the issue and Simon’s approach. The chemistry between the two is evident in the interview they had recently with The Black Cape.
he Typical Meeting Problem
In the episode, Zoey (played by Jane Levy) tries to help Simon by getting the employees on her floor to talk about race relations. Zoey, like every well-intentioned manager in the country in 2020, gathered all the employees in one space. She thought this would force everyone to share their stories, but, she discovered that Black employees had a different reality in these meetings. The meeting ended in Simon singing his “heart song” (the songs that only Zoey hears that indicate what her family and friends are really feeling). Simon’s song is “Black Man in a White World” by Michael Kiwanuka. That one song told her that this approach was never going to work.
Before Simon’s song, the show accurately depicts the typical reactions to the meeting from white employees. One of the white employees apologizes for things that are vague and have nothing to do with the Black coworkers there. Another white employee talks about a racism he experienced, which Zoey corrects, telling the man that his Black friend was actually the one with that experience. Then a white woman starts talking about herself and ends up getting everyone to coo and fawn over her. These are typical for every meeting on race that I have experienced in the workplace and my black colleagues can tell you the same.
Somehow, our white coworkers will center themselves, and then the conversation is no longer about the Black employees or those marginalized employees who need to be heard. Instead, these sessions do not change things in the workplace. The Black people in the company never get to be heard. This is why Simon’s song “Black Man in a White World” is so significant. It shows that he is not only fully aware that the talk session will end with disappointment and no change.
It’s the same story all over the office world and BIPOC are stuck having to deal with it. This episode arc is timely and full of lessons. The meeting is just one of them.
There’s more. Watch both episodes 5 and 6 of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist on the Peacock and tell us what you think.
Rating 4.5 of 5
The post ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ Dissects a Common Office “Race Talk” Disaster appeared first on The Black Cape Magazine.