Everyone's Talking About How This Show Nailed What It's Like to be Black on Campus

March 1st 2017

Almie Rose

"Switched at Birth," a television show on Freeform (formerly ABC Family), is getting praise for how it tackled the subject of campus racism.

The show, which is usually from the point of view of white characters, followed three black characters (Sharee, Iris, and Chris) in this episode at the University of Missouri - Kansas City (UMKC), as they began to protest their school following a cruel prank.

The students "protested their campus for failing to expel the white students who poured cotton balls all over the lawn of the black student union as a 'joke.' The story escalates after Sharee is reprimanded for yanking a megaphone away from a professor, Iris deals with the adversity of being the face of a movement despite growing up with money and Chris chooses between participating in a life-changing baseball game or supporting his friends and the cause," according to TV Guide.

Ultimately, the episode reaches a climax when Chris convinces his fellow athletes to boycott an important baseball game which could land them a place in the college World Series, the president of the university finally expels the students in charge of the "prank," and Iris, who lead the protest, is given the opportunity to address issues of racism on campus with the school president.

Twitter was full of praise from people who were excited to see a network show confront this important issue.

The reality of racism on college campuses isn't always as progressive.

But it's slowly showing signs of improvement. Rutgers University in New Jersey is renaming three places on campus (a building, walkway, and a library) in a move to "confront ties to slavery by renaming buildings," according to NJ.com. "These things need to be discussed. They need to be recognized and not forgotten. This is our way of making sure that they are not forgotten, that they are put front and center," Rutgers President Robert Barchi said of the name change which is to honor black Americans.

A college student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, alleged incidents of racism while walking through campus, ATTN: reported in November. The student claimed, "on my way to class this guy went out of his way to bump into me and sort of shove me off the sidewalk and he said no n****rs allowed on the sidewalk." Her fellow peers responded by walking her to class in droves.

Baylor called the incident "deeply disturbing" and responded to the walk by praising its student body, though it appears no one was expelled following the incident.

ATTN: wrote in October about a study on racial inequality among college students that found the "black-white disparity in student loan debt more than triples after graduation." As Willie Burnley Jr. reported for ATTN:, "the underlying issue behind the gap is systemic racism, the report suggested," adding, "Black Millennials must achieve two educational levels higher than their white counterparts to compete equally in the labor market."

Which may be another reason why television viewers found it refreshing for a TV show to confront issues of racial inequality in such a direct manner.

Update: An earlier version of this story referred to the University of Missouri — Kansas City as "fictitious." We regret the error.