Tracee Ellis Ross didn’t want her character on ‘Black-ish’ shown doing chores

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Tracee Ellis Ross, fresh off her facilitating duties at the DNC, is still out there promoting her movie, The High Note, with Dakota Johnson and her hair line, Pattern. She recently appeared on the Los Angeles Times Podcast, Can’t Stop Watching. During her interview, Tracee talked about a decision she made for her character on Black-ish. She said she was determined not to have Rainbow doing chores in every scene because she wanted to break the conception that household chores only belonged to women. And to that I say, can I get an Amen?! The LAT released this quote from the podcast:

“What I did speak up about from the beginning was, “Why am I carrying laundry?” “Why am I the person in the kitchen cooking right now, when this has nothing to do with the scene?” Even sometimes when it does have something to do with the scene. And I started coining them as “lady chores.” “Why am I doing the lady chores?” “Can’t [co-star] Anthony [Anderson] do the lady chore?” Because I don’t believe they’re “lady chores.” I believe they’re house chores. And I don’t believe that we should assume, because I believe every relationship is a negotiation between two people about what each of them feel comfortable doing, and I think the more that we portray that on television, the more that that becomes the reality out in the world, or matches the reality that the world actually is.

[From LA Times Can’t Stop Watching Podcast via Just Jared]

Honestly, I could go line for line of Tracee’s comment and simply shout, Yes! I don’t want to delve too far into the sociological history that has led to women being expected to run the home regardless of our employment status, but I have suffered from it and so has my mother. And what’s worse, we’re the one who perpetuated it. I felt I had to do everything because my mom did, even though she worked full time. She was visiting once when I told my kids to sort and fold their laundry and she said, “good for you. I should have done a lot more of that.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was my husband who had insisted everyone should be involved in the laundry. But Tracee is right, we watched our moms and grandmothers working in the home non-stop and then television and films backed that idea up so we pressed on, killing ourselves. They are “house-chores” and Tracee was so smart to insist on that. Also, “I believe every relationship is a negotiation between two people about what each of them feel comfortable doing,” applies to every aspect of the relationship, doesn’t it?

Since I last wrote about Tracee, I finally saw The High Note. It’s a sweet film. It fell victim to some tropes that flattened the characters but it was still charming. Something I liked was you could tell music insiders had a hand in the story, the music execs weren’t all wearing black hats. Something I did not like is there were a few story lines they introduced and abandoned, and they seemed like interesting contributions to the arc. However, Tracee and Dakota were a g-d delight. As is this video Tracee posted to Instagram:

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21 Responses to “Tracee Ellis Ross didn’t want her character on ‘Black-ish’ shown doing chores”

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  1. Case says:

    How you view housework depends on what you grew up seeing in your own home. My parents always split the work between them. My mom handled a lot of the day-to-day stuff like laundry, cooking, and tidying up, but my dad did heavy lifting on the weekend like vacuuming, cleaning the floors, dusting, etc. I took care of the pets’ needs and cleaned the bathrooms. So I’d never think that it’s my responsibility alone to clean a home I’m sharing with someone. It’s good to reinforce that there are all sorts of ways to approach housework on television, too. Mom doesn’t always have to do everything.

  2. paranormalgirl says:

    That’s why I had kids. They can do the chores *shrugs*

    Seriously though, we’ve always kind of just split up the chores around the house. I can’t remember the last time I actually folded the laundry. My husband likes doing it.

  3. AndaPanda says:

    My mom was a stay at home mom most of my life but my dad still did chores like laundry and vacuuming. I work full time in a demanding job and any man that doesn’t want to want to do his share won’t be marrying me. My boyfriend does dishes when he is over at my place, mops, sweeps and I’ll accept that :) .

  4. Slowdown says:

    My mum never did much (we had a cleaner coming to the house), even cooking is much more my dad’s chore. Whenever she has to do something it feels like she is carrying the world on her shoulders.

    Even if her attitude irritates me, I always felt absolutely ok with not liking chores, trying to escape them as much as I can, and sharing them. Gladly. My mum is not going to bend to those catholic bigoted views if it gets in the way of her work or her sense of self worth and I praise her for that.

    However she does refuse to work any appliance and to do any heavy lifting although she is quite strong, claiming she “has someone to do that for her” (I.e. my dad). Meaning technology and heavy stuff are for men . So no one is perfect.

  5. Nicole says:

    My husband came from a single mother household and they were not only expected, but enjoyed helping keep up the home. In my house, dad did dishes and mom did most of the rest. So in our household, we split the chores evenly, but my husband is a bit neater than I am so he will do the mopping and more deep cleaning more often. It works for us. My boys have chores and gain more responsibility as they get older, but it’s more because I want them to know how to take care of themselves when they leave the house. My youngest sister doesn’t know how to do anything and it’s so frustrating!

  6. Porter says:

    I love this! When my husband and I first moved in together 20 years ago we created a fair division of labor that we’ve stuck to all these years. It has worked great and I swear it is one of the keys to a successful relationship.

  7. Scal says:

    Also Bow is a doctor and he husband is a high level ad exec-MIL lives with them and there are 4 kids. In what world does it make sense that she’d be happy homemaker doing all the women chores?

    I appreciate that she fought to show those kids do their own work.

  8. Joanna says:

    I love her and I love the show Blackish. I am the same way about bugs. My ex husband believed the man does the outside work and the woman does the inside. Bunch of b.s.

    I hope the new guy I am dating will be better.

  9. Meg says:

    Its surprising how little movies and tv writing and directing reflect the reality most live in like sexist gender roles. she plays a medical dr in blackish yet she can’t just stand in a scene with a coffee cup or cellphone in her hand she has to be doing laundry or the dishes? Do you ever have the husband character or kids doing those things? I remember waiting to hang our with friends while they did their chores, that would be much more realistic to portray and wouldn’t make tv feel so elitist at times

  10. MarcelMarcel says:

    I have a very tortured relationship with housework. My sisters abusive ex husband attempted to train myself & my eldest niece to be mothers/ housewives when we were little. (There is a significant age gap between myself & my sister. So she was basically a secondary mother figure & my niece is a sister to me).
    Anyhow there was so much shame & negativity involved in co-coercing us to do housework. He is a Hillsong type Christian. Please note that my mother is a staunch feminist! But his toxic attitudes about domestic labour were endorsed by wider social norms.

    Nowadays, I get into shame spirals whenever the housework piles up. I’m now unraveling all these unnecessary negative emotions around housework. But toxic patriarchal Christianity did a number on me.

    I’m really glad Tracey advocated for domestic equality on Black-ish. It provides a strong counter narrative to all the toxic sexist bullsh*t out there.

  11. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    She should come take notes at my house. I sit and order. The hubs does everything lol. He does my bidding 24/7. Granted he doesn’t cook, and we all love good quality food, so that’s my thing. But not every night for certain. They (the boys) pick up, vacuum, take out trash, clean their bathroom, get the mail, pay bills, grocery shop (I make lists for all shopping lol), etc. It wasn’t always this way, I had to train them.

  12. Mika says:

    I love his. I’m so tired of having women like.. casually wiping down counters on sitcoms during every conversation. Can you imagine if fucking Kevin James was casually wiping down counters? Tim Allen?

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      This is the exact reason I trained the guys in my house. Cleaning is so ingrained in us as women, we do it subconsciously. If I see an empty pop can, I immediately go over to pick it up. Well I used to. Every cleaning instinct/impulse I’ve ever had at any given point in time has been force-fed to my boys. It’s hard work breaking molds. Much easier just to do the damn thing myself, but I think future daughters-in-law will appreciate lol.

  13. Finny says:

    My hubby and I are married for 28 years and since day one we split the chores. He doesn’t like cooking, I like to cook. I don’t like to deal with laundry, he does. When both of us were working on the weekends we split the chores like dusting, scrubbing bathrooms, yardwork. It worked great for us. He was 28 years in the army and I have to admit he cleans sometimes better than I. 😀 its everybody’s home and everybody living there has to pitch in to make daily live run smooth and with less stress for us women and everyone else.

  14. Libellule says:

    My parents split the work my mother did most of the cleaning but my father did the cooking. I did the same with my ex

  15. PugMom says:

    My husband and I split the cooking, I do most of the cleaning but he does the heavy lifting (moving furniture, taking down the blinds when I want to clean them, carrying all of the groceries up to our apartment). So, it’s pretty evenly split. He hates cleaning, I hate dealing with heavy things. It works perfect.

  16. Lizzie says:

    I think that is just laziness on the part of mostly male writers. I enjoyed Blackish. I did notice Rainbow wasn’t always doing chores and I adminre TER for standing up.

  17. Sarah says:

    I don’t remember how my parents did things while they were together but while I will criticise my father for a lot, he and his wife have ‘blue jobs’ and ‘pink jobs’ and they each take responsibility for these. I think it started when they were first living on his boat. I’m not saying it was a completely equitable division of labour (know him it was not) but when I went to visit them and heard what they were doing I really liked the concept.

  18. sunny says:

    My parents divided the chores pretty equally in my childhood home although all 4 of us kids were assigned responsibilities and had to help. One thing I didn’t appreciate until adulthood was that my mother didn’t really praise my dad for pulling his weight around the house or for being a super involved parent. When I was growing up in the 90′s my dad used to get so much praise from teachers at school, and women in public because he would be out with us doing errands/chores. My mother would always laugh and say, “your father doesn’t deserve praise for contributing to this family. Nobody praises mothers for doing the exact same work. The expectations people have of men are low. Your father helped to make you, he is just as responsible for raising you as I am.”

    As an adult, I get the example she was trying to set.

  19. SoCalVibes says:

    I love her, and I think this is such a great point. You are truly doing your children no favors if you don’t teach them and allow them to master the simple repetitive tasks of housekeeping and food preparation.

    I think it’s fantastic to pay someone else to do every single household task you can think of, but at least know how to do it yourself so that you can A: be able to show your staff how you like something to be cleaned and maintained, and B: If something were to happen that you could no longer have an army of people entering your home in order to do absolutely everything, you just might have to start do things yourself. I think my neighbors who are all still getting weekly or more often housecleaner visits are crazy, but to them it’s worth the risk and who am I to judge. I have never had a housecleaner myself so it’s just business as normal.

    For anyone struggling with housekeeping, tidying, and clutter, I can’t recommend the FlyLady method more. Diane in Denmark and The Secret Slob on YouTube explain it the best and make it manageable to implement in daily life. Especially people who have a shame-based emotional history with cleaning and clutter, this is the best way to change those feelings and learn to love maintaining your home little by little every day. Remember your home didn’t get to where it is in just one day, so it will take many days of consistent, but relatively short effort in order to see a change, but when you change your habits and routines you’ll never go back!

  20. yinyang says:

    She plays a doctor, damn right she’s not going to be working outside the home, and doing all the work inside!!