I just finished my first week back at school (tears), and as I ventured through the week and took in what was different and the same about my surroundings, my mind went back to a certain episode of Grown-ish.
Side note: What was that ending of season 2? Who is Ryan Destiny’s character? How is she going to mess everything up? I don’t think I can wait until winter 2020 to have my questions answered.
Anyway, my mind went back to episode nineteen of season two, titled “Only Human,” which originally aired July 24, 2019. It features appearances from Jordyn Woods and DC Young Fly, among the regular cast.
This episode is one of the few episodes from the first two seasons that deeply resonated with me.
At the start of the school year, when every teacher goes over the syllabus, they mention the counseling center on campus and making sure we take care of our mental health. Episode nineteen deals with the mental health of African-American college students and their ability to get genuine help. Let me break it down (I’ll try my best not to give away the plot of the entire episode):
Before the episode even begins, there is a disclaimer that says “The following program contains material involving suicide. Viewer discretion advised.”
The episode begins with an incident at Hawkins Hall, an African-American residence hall on campus, and the incident rattles Aaron (played by Trevor Jackson). Cut to Aaron talking with “his boys” Doug (played by Diggy Simmons) and Vivek (played by Jordan Buhat) about what happened.
While talking about the incident, they make note of everyone posting on social media about being depressed, almost like it’s trending or a fad. Doug goes on to say, “It’s impossible to tell who’s really doing it for the flex or who’s actually struggling.” I’m not here to invalidate anyone who is struggling mentally or has a serious mental illness, but Doug has a good point.
Later in the episode, after we get an introduction to Zoey’s drama (played by Yara Shahidi), Aaron gets everyone who lives in Hawkins to come together to talk about their mental health. How does he get everyone to come together? The promise of free shrimp.
No one takes it seriously at first (because they just want their free shrimp), but there is some serious progression. One guy talks about waking up and not being able to get out of bed; he talks about how you just ride it out. I felt that completely. On my college campus, that’s exactly how it is, at least for me.
Further in the episode, Aaron has a serious conversation with the Dean (played by Deon Cole) about the lack of resources for African-Americans who are struggling mentally, including there not being a black therapist on campus.
I fully understand this. During my freshman year, I went to our counseling center on campus because I was having nightmares related to my childhood and wasn’t coping well with the death of a relative and just wasn’t doing well overall. I got paired with the only African-American counselor we had on campus. It was all nice and dandy until Easter… when I found out we were related. Our appointments were just really weird after that, and I didn’t return for help.
Going back to Grown-ish, the Dean’s excuse for the lack of resources is because of the school not having money in the budget, which is awful. The conversation ends with Aaron saying, “You know, they’ll spend millions of dollars on a new arena to make millions off black bodies but won’t invest in our minds. It’s baffling to me.” One word: PREACH!! That is my university in one sentence; we’re literally trophies, and it’s both baffling and angering.
The episode draws to an end with Aaron creating Black Minds Matter and organizing a fundraiser to help black people get better mental health support.
This episode of Grown-ish is very powerful; the mental health of minorities needs just as much attention as the others. If you’re interested in watching this episode of Grown-ish, or any episode of Grown-ish, all episodes are streaming on Hulu.
“We’re the one’s struggling with the normal stresses of college, going to a predominantly white school, and having to deal with the pressures of being black in America.”Aaron, from grownish
Featured image credit: Robina Weermeijer