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    People Are Praising “Doctor Who” For Its Uncompromising Episode On Racism And Discrimination

    “Rosa” taught a powerful lesson about racism not only in the past but also in the present — and for a family audience. The result was one of the most meaningful hours of TV. This post contains spoilers.

    Doctor Who has received significant viewer and critical acclaim for an episode featuring Rosa Parks (Vinette Robinson) that tackled racism and discrimination.

    Coco Van Oppens / BBC

    Called “Rosa” and cowritten by Noughts & Crosses author Malorie Blackman, the episode featured the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her assistants visiting Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. They meet Parks in the days before she refused to move from her seat in the “coloured section” of a segregated bus to make way for white passengers.

    The show did not hold back in showing racist attitudes. Before meeting Parks, Ryan (Tosin Cole) innocently tried to return a glove to a white couple. He was slapped in the face by her husband and then was then subjected to racist abuse.

    BBC / Doctor Who

    Later they were refused service at a restaurant, being told this by the waitress:

    BBC / Doctor Who

    Many people pointed out how significant it was that the show was highlighting racism to young audiences...

    I love that millions of children are being taught about Rosa Parks through watching #DoctorWho. I also love how this episode isn’t holding back on the issues and language.

    ...and how the episode’s tone was uncomfortable because it needed to be.

    Also a side note - I'm glad how uncomfortable some of the moments felt - BECAUSE THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE We have to face what society was like and the problems it still has now - but we have to face them with hope That's what I love about Doctor Who - the hope

    The storyline also did not attempt to influence the event, or in any way inspire Rosa for her actions that day.

    BBC / Doctor Who

    Rather, they helped protect the circumstances so that the event did happen.

    BBC / Doctor Who

    As Caroline Siede rightfully points out in a review for the AV Club: “‘Rosa’ isn’t about the Doctor and her companions changing history, it’s about them guarding the timeline so that Rosa’s heroism itself can change the world.”

    "We have to not help her." Thank goodness that #DoctorWho doesn't take Rosa Parks' agency away by having the Doctor or Ryan or anyone else 'inspire' her to take action. This was *all* Rosa.

    Not only did the episode highlight racist attitudes in the past, they also highlighted how racism continues today. Ryan (Cole) talked about being stopped by police and Yaz (Mandip Gill) opened up about the abuse she has experienced as a Muslim.

    BBC / Doctor Who

    Viewers noticed that the language wasn’t toned down at any point, to ensure that racist attitudes both then and now weren’t undermined.

    Using words like “negro” and “paki” to address racism on prime time TV on a show as popular as Doctor Who is amazing. Bonus Rosa Parks too! This episode is fast becoming an all time favourite #DoctorWho

    Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall really went there. If you're uncomfortable just remember this is reality for POC. #DoctorWho

    This convo between Ryan and Yaz. Wow. #Doctorwho

    They also contextualised Rosa Parks’s story, highlighting the future difficulties she faced and the continued fight for civil rights.

    BBC / Doctor Who

    Notably, this was also the first episode in Doctor Who history to have been written by a person of colour.

    This episode is the first in the history of all 37 seasons of #DoctorWho that was written by a person of color. Malorie Blackman, who wrote this, is only the 6th woman to write an episode. It's immediately the most iconic episode in my book. It's really fantastic. So powerful.

    Also if you’d told teenage me that one day I would get to see a female Doctor in an episode about Rosa Parks that was written by @malorieblackman I would have never believed you. #doctorwho

    It was pointed out how much this episode stood out from other episodes that came before it...

    Y’all ever think about how important it was Doctor Who has a their first female doctor but was also the first to prominently acknowledge her white privilege. They really snapped with this season

    ...but also how inclusive Doctor Who has been, and how this show was the place to talk about such issues.

    In 1963, #DoctorWho was conceived as a series designed to educate children by visiting significant historical events. In 2018, millions of children are learning about the heroism of Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement through the show. A story so relevant to here and now.

    Explained to my girls that it was less than 79 years ago that #rosaparks made her stand. It changed everything. It’s the little things and the little people who together make #bigchanges... And now we have a female #doctorwho

    Robinson, who played Parks in the episode, said that she had been “overwhelmed” by the reaction.

    Bit overwhelmed by the lovely responses to Rosa but by far the nicest thing is to hear is that it opened up family conversations with kids. Kudos to Chris Chibnall for getting us talking about Rosa and the legacy she left us and where we are now.

    It was also pointed out that the episode was aired on the same day as a black woman was racially abused and was made to move on an Ryanair flight.

    Dr Who rode on the bus with Rosa Parks tonight. Are we in the right timeline?

    And at the end of the episode, the Doctor highlighted that Rosa Parks not only changed the world but the “universe”, pointing out an asteroid that has been named after her.

    BBC / Doctor Who

    Here is Asteroid 284996: Rosaparks.

    “Asteroid 284996 also known as Rosa Parks” HERE IT IS, FOLKS! #DoctorWho


    Tosin Cole’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.

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