In the first half of tonight's Black Lightning, Tobias Whale, the series' villain played by Marvin "Krondon" Jones III, launched into a racially-charged rant filled directed at one of his employees.
After referring to someone as a "darkie," one of Whale's other people accused him of hating black people. Whale, who is an albino black man, responded that he didn't hate black people, per say, but strung together a number of racist comments about inner-city blacks. And if you are anything like us, you found yourself thinking "Did Tobias just say 'darkie' on prime time TV on The CW?!" We asked Jones about it, and he...well, he didn't disagree.
"I had the same thoughts you had, like 'okay, CW gonna do this, honestly?'" Jones admitted. "And trust me: Before the rewrites? Trust me, my brother, you got the mild version of it."
The series has not shied away from dealing with racial issues, from police violence to gang violence, with showrunner Salim Akil saying that he hoped to address how black-on-black crime affects cities like the one being represented by Freeland on Black Lightning.
Whale's internalized racism is an extension of that philosophy, and just one of a number of issues that will be dealt with in the first few episodes of the series.
"It's dealing with the truths of today, whether you are a single mother, single father, student, gay or straight, black or white, dark or light, you know?" Jones said. "It's dealing with the truths and the realities that you may deal with of substance in your own life. That's what I'm hoping happens: That there's a great conversation. There's a great conversation about albinism and there's a great conversation about single fathers, you know what I'm saying? Lesbians. All these things and I don't mean to say all these things in a low tone, because in our society these are things that you say like that. But now we're able to put them on primetime television and see what the world thinks about it then. I'm so excited."
Black Lightning airs on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT, following new episodes of The Flash on The CW.