One of the hardest things about microaggressions is explaining the pain they cause. Trying to do this as a child is even more difficult.
But in Friday’s episode of the beloved father / daughter comedy Sydney to the max (Disney Channel, 8: 25/7: 25c), the main character and his friends have to do just that when their well-meaning white teacher, Ms. Anderson, assigns them historical figures looking for a class assignment based on their race. For example, Sydney is credited with the late Georgia congressman and activist John Lewis.
In the side story, Young Max (Jackson Dollinger) is mistakenly identified in a newspaper article as the president of the computer club because he is white, but Young Leo (Christian J. Simon), who is black, is the true founder and president.
“Before I even started Season 3, I spoke with writer / creator Mark [Reisman] and some of the producers on all the things we were going to talk about that are so amazing, ”said Ruth Righi, who plays Sydney, during a recent Zoom panel for the episode called“ Do the Write Thing ”.
“I really feel grateful that our show is an outlet to normalize these topics because they are happening,” Righi continues. (In an April episode, the show touched on the empowering but sometimes isolating identity associated with dark hair.) “And it’s just important that kids can see it and talk about it with their families and just have a relevant source. to learn now in this fun and loving way.
The Raven’s House star and EP Raven-Symone directed the episode, written by Patrice Asuncion and Nick Rossitto. “I thought it was amazing that the producers really fought for this show to happen,” Symone said of the episode. “A show [like this] can be such a heavy topic on the Disney Channel. They wrote it in such a way that it is palatable. It can affect the audience in a very clear way.
“I was very excited to know that they were going to allow me to do this,” adds Symone. “One of my favorite episodes is where Ruth had her whole hair situation. If you had a white running this, you’d start a different kind of microaggression. Black females. Let’s go.”
Julia Garcia, who plays the role of Emmy, says the episode made her feel seen as well, and the writers even worked in some instances of her real life, including her racial background.
“Being Cuban and Filipino in California, everyone thinks you are Mexican,” Garcia says. “So there are definitely a lot of stereotypes that people tell me, and it’s hard to come back, especially when some relationships are ruined because of it. And you can’t get over it. You learn over time who your true friends are and who will be there for you. And I think these guys here are there for me.
Simon, who plays Young Leo, agrees. “The fact that we are talking about these issues on the Disney Channel is huge,” he says. “You don’t have to do it alone. There are so many people around you who want to help you. Just ask and don’t be afraid to use your voice.
“I’m happy with this episode because most of the people who watch this episode won’t even know what a microaggression is,” he concludes. “The episode does a great job of educating people. And some people do, and they don’t realize the negative impact they have on the person.