The Office, Season 20, Episode 20: Black Lives Matter

A white boy who claims to know more about The Office than me says 

“there’s no way The Office could air now, everyone’s too sensitive.” 

But in a universe where a Black Lives Matter episode of The Office could air:”

Darryl and Stanley are seen walking to the elevator in the middle of a conversation 

The camera now zooms on the entrance to the Scranton office of Dunder Mifflin, 

Darryl and Stanley walk in, and stop, frown, sigh–

Andy is kneeling, Black power fist in the air

Michael emerges from his office wearing a kente cloth tie he bought off Amazon 

The camera pans to Jim, who makes the classic Jim face 

The theme music plays.

A universe where a Black Lives Matter episode of The Office could air would have to address some previous episodes: 

Season 2 Episode 2, Diversity Day: Michael Scott says the N-word doing Chris tucker stand up

Season 4, Episode 5, Local Ad: Stanley’s meant to give the “urban feel” to Michael’s ad

Season 5 Episode 15, Stress Relief Part 2: Michael makes a racist joke and says it’s not offensive as long as it’s in a “formal roast”

Season 6 Episode 12, Scott’s Tots: PERIOD.

This episode of The Office would have continuity errors due to shifts in the Dunder Mifflin staff, which will make some white office fans angrier about this poem than they get about:  

1) Actual continuity errors the writers made, like Andy in Season 7, Episode 16, teaching the staff sex ed because he did it as an RA at Cornell, but mispronouncing “chlamydia”  talking to Pete in Season 9, Episode 16


2) Racism  

The Black Lives Matter episode of The Office will still center whiteness; 

With every look to the camera Jim gives,

The cameraman will miss Stanley and Darryl looking at each other. 

They will never catch what it means to share this look, 

How Blackness harbors community in ways whiteness will never know.

Michael will print out pictures for the conference room meeting of 

MLK, Chris Rock, Oprah, and Condoleezza Rice 

He and Andy will choreograph a dance to “Fuck the Police” 

Ryan will mistake the song for one by Kanye West 

Angela will walk out 

Dwight will turn off the boom box 

Darryl and Stanley look at each other, the cameraman misses it again. 

Pam and Jim approach Darryl 

Good intentioned, but wrong, 

All “all lives matter” and white discomfort and “but you know we’re good, right?”

Aware they are on camera, more concerned with looking like one of the “good ones” than actually being good.

Stanley will remind fans he was once fighting the power and eating whatever he wanted. 

Tells Darryl to save his energy, his time, just leave at five and stop dealing with these crazy white people. 

Says “stop trying to be understood by people committed to making a punchline out of misunderstanding you,

Did I stutter? Did I fucking stutter?” 

Season 9, Episode 9, Dwight Christmas: Nate is shown wearing Blackface, the clip is removed from Netflix after the summer 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.  

A Black Lives Matter episode of The Office would still sideline its two Black characters 

Whiteness is the star of the show with no sparkle to show for it 

All Nancy Pelosi and no Nat Turner 

Why would they remember Emmett Till when they could be winning an Emmy?

Why care about Black people when you can make so much money without having to? 

The Black Lives Matter episode of The Office would end with a fist bump between Darryl and Jim 

A nod between Phyllis and Stanley 

A sticker that whiteness and white fans get to put on their chests and say “I did enough today”.

The ending monologue will be all about “just having conversations” and “just trying”

Will ignore who did all the work, who’s going home educated and who’s going home tired 

Stanley and Darryl walk to their cars in the parking lot separately. They nod, drive off, 

And the cameramen have long gone home.

Cleo (They/Them) is a Black femme genderfluid poet and educator. They have been blessed with opportunities to perform up the east coast, and have publications out with Kissing Dynamite, Barren Magazine, and Pocketfire. They have recently had a poem nominated for best of the net. They hope for their poems to heal, hold, and rage. 

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