By Shaquille Woods
“Some of my best friends are black,” is a common statement many African-Americans have heard.
The same statement was explored deeper in the first episode of The Neighborhood, which appeared Monday Oct. 1 on CBS Television Network.
The Neighborhood is a comedy starring Cedric the Entertainer who grows skeptical about a new white neighbor, played by Max Greenfield, who just moved from Michigan to a predominantly black neighborhood.
Other stars include Tichina Arnold, best known for her role in Martin, and Sheaun Mckinney.
Mckinney, who was raised in Miami, spoke to the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper about his role.
“It all started with my mama,” Mckinney jokingly said when asked about how he became an actor.
“It’s the truth. She recommended acting to me and forced me to take a class. Me and a friend of mine eventually started a theater company.”
The actor’s theater company, “Ground Up & Rising” was created with fellow actors Bechir Sylvain and Arturo Rossi. Mckinney eventually made his move to Los Angeles where he partnered again with Syvain and produced a web series called Make It Happen.
Mckinney, who plays Cedric The Entertainers son Malcolm, explained the deeper messages behind The Neighborhood. Though the show explores gentrification, it also tackles microaggressions that are often prompted against black people. The pilot episode had numerous statements many black people often hear daily especially when confronted with racial injustice.
“I wanted my character to be authentic. That’s what I do with any character I play. Though we obviously talk about how gentrification affects neighborhoods, we go inside why those microaggressions are important to talk about,” said Mckinney.
When asked about how The Neighborhood will explore black men, Mckinney offered a poignant response about Black men being vulnerable.
“We don’t see a lot of black men being vulnerable on television. My character’s relationship with his father will show the dynamics of why that’s important,” said Mckinney.
“Hopefully we can change that conversation and show us in a different light.”
Recently, there have been instances where artists are shunned for speaking out about societal flaws. Artists are usually told to shut up and not inject themselves into politics. Mckinney disagrees.
“It is the artists duty to speak up,” Mckinney told us.
“Anyone telling an artists to shut up about politics doesn’t understand what we do. Artists need to be political.“
We ended our conversation with a simple question: “What do you want a young black boy who is watching you to learn from the show?”
Mckinney responded with, “I want them to know they are great. I want them to know they are worthy. They can be anything they want to be.”
The Neighborhood appears 8:00-8:30 PM Eastern and Pacific times weekly on the CBS Television Network.
This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel