Remembering the many lessons of Aaron McGruder's "The Boondocks"

The news frequently reminds me of various episodes of Aaron McGruder's transformative animated series and comic strip, The Boondocks

When Aaron McGruder created The Boondocks, he didn't have his pulse on the rhythms and arrhythmia of black culture; his heart and imagination were one of the ventricle muscles of insight, brilliance, and analytics that made up and circulated Black cultural themes, aesthetics, and critique. The basics of The Boondocks are that Huey (Regina King) and Riley Freeman (Regina King) moved to live with their granddad in the idyllic primarily white city of Woodcrest, where Robert Jebediah "Granddad" Freeman has established a well-to-do assimilated lifestyle.  Huey is a social activist, while Riley is a Gansta-Rap Hip Hop head. The town's residents, from Uncle Ruckus, self-hating and suffering from reverse vitiligo, to Jazmine, the biracial next-door neighbor, provide foils and backdrops for the adventures that Riley and Huey engage in.

Beginning with Episode #1, which debuted in 2005, "The Garden Party," McGruder takes us to unexpected places. The series begins with Riley accidentally shooting Ed Wuncler III (the late Charlie Murphy), the racist Iraq war veteran son of the wealthy white banker who owns everything in Woodcrest. Riley's brother Huey delivers these memorable lines at the same garden party, 'Excuse me. Everyone, I have a brief announcement to make. Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about 9/11. Thank you for your time and good night." 

For this post, I want to highlight Episode 10 from Season #1: "The Itis." 

As this synopsis from OK Player explains, "Taking its title after a popular term used to describe sleepiness after eating a large meal, "The Itis" ends up being the name of Granddad's restaurant. Residents of the predominantly white Woodcrest flock in droves to eat Granddad's soul food, with the added perk of lounging and napping on the beds they're served in. Eventually, these loyal customers start to become too gluttonous and lazy. Eventually, The Itis has to close because of pending lawsuits and a fatal heart attack of its first customer." 

The final scene reveals that Banker Ed Wuncler financed the restaurant as a strategy toward gentrification and rezoning. 

The Boondocks anticipated and engaged with cultural, social, and political issues that remain relevant today. In some ways, that's a long-winded way of saying there's a Boondocks episode or comic strip for the majority of essential questions about power, representation, identity, economic exploitation, patriotism, misogyny and homophobia in Hip Hop, nostalgia, the so-called war on terror, and, and, and, you name it. 

For four seasons, one without McGruder, The Boondocks analyzed Black culture. In the speculative episode, "Return of the King," where Dr. Rev. MLK Jr. survived the assassination attempt, the satire, anime-inflected episodes help us rethink the "what if" of history.

Spoiler: MLK decides to go to Canada. 

You can find all the episodes at Adult Swim.