written by Dayna Abel
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
“Sometimes you are going to miss things because they are different from your lived experience. It doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person, but we really need to hear each other.”
Supergirl has never met a metaphor it couldn’t beat you over the head with, but in “Blind Spots” – an episode about the conscious and unconscious ignorance of white people to BIPOC issues – it’s written and acted extraordinarily well. Our own Kelly Olsen, Azie Tesfai, co-wrote this episode with J. Holtham, and it’s obvious she put her heart into it.
Racism is not limited to shouting the N-word while burning crosses on a lawn. Speaking from an American perspective, all white people – whether we like it or not, no matter how good an ally we aspire to be – are born into a systemically racist system that privileges us above non-white people. Throughout our lives, we have to actively unlearn any number of unconscious biases. We do this by surrounding ourselves with people who have different lived experiences based on their skin color, and moving past the knee-jerk “not all white people” response to listening to what they have to say, believing their stories, and helping them when they tell us what they need from us. Kara demonstrates this by acknowledging her mistakes and actively working to be better about not overlooking the needs of those who don’t look exactly like her, and Alex goes out of her way to read anti-racist books and ask Kelly how she can support her.
Elevating BIPOC voices over our own was demonstrated once before this season, when Kara had Orlando tell his story to the city council, but Azie brings it all the way home here as Kelly shows palpable frustration at her friends’ titular blind spots towards National City’s Black community. I’m glad Supergirl is going out of its way to do this because television needs more diverse voices speaking out. Entertainment has a lot of power to influence people’s behavior, more than we’d like to admit, and for white children, it’s entirely possible that this episode and others like it could be their first exposure to anti-racist ideas.
Meanwhile, over in the B-plot, Lena has begun her magic training, while Evil Councilwoman Rankin has been affected by 5th-dimensional energy that allows her to create anything she wants at the cost of other people’s life force. John Diggle from Arrow makes his prerequisite cameo (and with yet another Arrowverse show ending, I can’t help but wonder where they’re going with his story) to give Kelly a helper and confidant, and Kelly herself is finally inspired to take up her brother’s mantle as the Guardian – “an advocate for the people who have lost hope,” as she put it.
As an aside, Orlando Davis’ actor, Jhaleil Swaby, is absolutely riveting and I really hope he gets more work from this.
This was a fantastic episode, and it left me wishing for more episodes by Azie. She’s as great a writer as she is an actress, and I deeply hope one of the other Arrowverse shows pick her up in either capacity now that Supergirl is coming to a close. I have always had the privilege of being represented in superhero media as a white person (female is an entirely different discussion), and I’m so happy that Black kids are getting more and more superheroes who look like them and who face the same issues they do, who can inspire them the same way Supergirl has inspired me for decades.
Supergirl airs Tuesday nights at 9 Eastern/8 Central on the CW. Dayna can be found on Twitter @queenanthai.