culture

'Atlanta' S3E6 "White Fashion" Recap

By Jacinta Howard

We’re back in London, where we see a European fashion line that co-opts streetwear as part of its design, Esco Esco, in trouble over a racist collection they’ve created that’s inspired by Central Park. And by “Central Park,” they mean they actually made Central Park 5 jerseys, complete with an ad depicting a white woman face down while Black people lay on a picnic blanket surrounding her. Good grief. 

Our boy Al is called in for racist relief, called upon to lend his time and name to the company as a PR move. A clearly bored Al decides he’s down, but has a few requirements, like free clothes for three years, free tailoring, and an elaborate lunch of ribs with dry rub and some mac and cheese. Later, Earn tells Al that the whole thing feels like “an Uncle Tom photo opp” and Al shrugs it off, because it’s super hard for him to get designer clothes free from his stylist. Earn tells him he could just buy all the clothes but Al says he shouldn’t have to, he works too hard. “You’re not worried about what the streets think?” Earn questions, which makes Al chuckle. “The streets? Man, fuck the streets. Man, I’ve shot niggas,” he retorts. Earn says if it was him, he’d probably make sure he’s on the company board for at least five years so he could learn the infrastructure and then start his own company to help Black entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile Darius, who’d requested jollof when everyone was putting in their lunch orders—which weirdly confused everyone—is greeted by Sharon, the head of hospitality for the company. She says she received is order and even though her and husband know every Michilin spot around town, they don’t know what jollof is— “it’s Ghanian, right?” To which Darius wonders, “Who told you that? A Ghanian?” She asks if there’s a place where he normally gets it and then offers to drive him to the spot and off they go. 

Later at the press conference for the fashion line, we meet Khalil (Fisayo Akinade) “activist, writer, foodie” who introduces himself to an unimpressed Al, who already knows who he is. Khalil is rocking an airplane life preserver, complete with the tabs that has “BLM” written on it (this is probably a funny nod to DeRay McKessons’ blue vest).  “So is this your first time apologizing for white people?” he asks. “It’s the best. The dinners are amazing. I haven’t paid for a meal in 73 police shootings.” Al has joined Khalil on the assembled “panel of experts” and after the owner of the company declares he’s the least prejudiced person in the world, a reporter stands and asks Al if racism is over. “Fuck no. Obviously,” Al answers, before Khalil intercedes, consoling the white people in the room by saying that with the company’s new initiative, they estimate racism will be over by 2024 as Al frowns in annoyance.  

Darius and Sharon have reached the Nigerian restaurant, and Darius cozies up with the owner, Mimi, who connects him over this Nigerian heritage (he’s Ijwa but his hair is so “Igbo”). Sharon is impressed with the food (especially the jollof except for the goat) and vibe, and says as much, commenting on the “growth potential” before asking Darius what “Naija” means, and attempting to Shazam the Nigerian music playing. Uh-oh. 

After the press conference, Al is meeting with the diversity advisor committee, and when he’s asked what he wants, shares the idea that Earn put in his head about using their platform to build a campaign that will help Black entrepreneurs. Everyone else though, not so much. Black adjacent DeMarco mostly wants business class tickets to Mauritius, the new off-white Nikes. Another lady wants 1,000 copies of her book to be purchased  to help with sensitivity training. Khalil, who’s still rocking his airplane life preserver, wants tickets to the new Black Panther 2 premiere (this Black Panther 2 thread they’re weaving through the episodes this season is funny). Al chastises them for being self-centered, and tells them the streets don’t trust them. He shoots them the idea that Earn put into his head about helping out Black entrepreneurs, calling it the ReInvest In Your Hood Campaign. After some bickering between Khalil and Black adjacent DeMarco, Al says the money should be run through Khalil’s Open Arms charity. The social activist crew tells him to send his idea to Marchello since he’s so passionate about it, and Al seems genuinely excited, recording his “Reinvest in Your Hood” message on his phone as soon as he leaves.  

We see Earn leaving a meeting at a hotel, where he unexpectedly bumps into Van! Earn is pretty pissed off though, it’s been weeks, he had no idea where she was, and the only response he’d received from her was the thumbs up emoji from last episode. “Where have you been?” he asks, telling her their parents and she can’t just fall off the map like that. Van tells him that they’re busy working, it’s not that big of a deal, and she’s been doing her own thing, like shopping, and holds up a new wig she’s just bought. Earn says he called her mom, and what if she got kidnapped? Van looks touched but their moment is interrupted with a blonde white lady storms up, loudly declaring, “I know what you did!” She claims Van stole the wig and proceeds to try to literally hold Van there, shouting that she’s making a citizen’s arrest. The hotel manager hustles up and tells the lady to leave or he’s calling the police. Earn takes advantage of the situation and gets them a free room, even though he wasn’t even staying at the hotel, after claiming Van is his fiance. 

Later, we see Darius heading to the Nigerian spot, disappointed and confused when he finds it closed. Instead, he hears Sharon calling out to him for a food truck called Naija Bowl. She and her husband bought the place and now serve “cheesy jollof.” “Where’s Mimi?” Darius wonders. Sharon has no clue, they never exchanged info. Sharon makes him a dish inspired by his Georgia roots and Darius gets up, shaking his head, before throwing the food in the trash and leaving. 

As it turns out, Al’s Reinvest In Your Hood campaign has been swindled by the ESCO•ESCO who’s used the voiceover from his passionate video to accompany their ad, which has literally nothing to do with Black people but is “more inclusive.” Al is livid, and tells them they “All Lives Mattere’d” his idea. Khalil pulls him outside to calm him down. “Why would a company make a project that would teach Black people to stop buying their products and reinvest in their own? Why would they fund their own demise. That’s not a business. That’s a charity. They were never gonna make that commercial.” He says that’s why Al needs his own nonprofit and that’s why he squeezed 100K out of them for his own charity, and does he want to go see Black Panther 2 because he has an extra ticket, and plus, Larenz Tate is in this one. Al declines but Khalil tells him to think about what he said. 

Van and Earn are in the free room they’ve been hooked up with, and Earn apologizes for being harsh with her earlier, and tells her he’s just worried. Van, brushes him off, still vibing to BADNOTGOOD’s “In Your Eyes” which she says she’s been playing all around Europe, and hugs him. “You worry about everything,” she says, which he denies. “You know Darius says this is all a simulation,” she tells him. Just as they’re about to kiss, Earn asks if she stole the wig. Van doesn’t answer, and kisses him. The next morning, Earn is awakened by the phone ringing, and finds he’s in bed alone. 

The season has cleverly weaved in the concept of ghosts into each episode, and this is the first one that strayed from that concept. Or did it? While the eerieness was absent this go around, there’s always a lingering sense that something is on the horizon for our beloved four, something that probably isn’t good. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the coming four episodes.