Ross: Canceling ‘blackish’ NFL episode ‘frightening’

Peter Sblendorio
New York Daily News

Tracee Ellis Ross never got an answer for why an episode of “black-ish” that covered the NFL kneeling protest was pulled — a situation she describes as “frightening.”

Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross star in ABC's “black-ish,” a show that has addressed hot-button social issues.

ABC shelved the politically charged episode in February without providing an explanation as for why.

“The details of why the episode was pulled and everything that has surrounded that, I do not have the answers for,” Ross says in a new roundtable conversation for The Hollywood Reporter. “To a certain extent, I have purposefully stayed out of those conversations because I’ve had no power to do something beyond that.

“I have asked for the information and pushed for the information that I felt would be helpful to me and constructive in what I can do with it, because I find it frightening,” she said.

The actress — who stars as Dr. Rainbow Johnson — noted that the “black-ish” cast is regularly involved in discussions about the content of their episodes.

The episode in question was originally slated to air on Feb. 22 and was expected to feature several political and social storylines, including an argument about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest, Variety reported earlier this year.

The network’s entertainment president, Channing Dungey, contended in May that the NFL protest portion of the show was not what led to it getting pulled, and said it was a mutual decision between ABC and “black-ish” creator Kenya Barris to make the move.

“I think with this particular episode, there were a number of elements to the episode that we had a hard time coming to terms on,” she told reporters in a conference call, according to Variety. “Much has been made of the sort of kneeling part of it, which was not even really the issue.”

The national anthem protest began in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a way of demonstrating against racial injustice. Additional players then followed in his footsteps by not standing for the anthem during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Last month, the NFL instituted a new policy requiring players to either stand for the anthem or remain in the locker room while it plays.