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9021-OH LAWDY!

Imagine my surprise last week as I made my semiannual channel flip past the CW and saw an honest-to-goodness colored person not named Tyra Banks on screen. Was I having a flashback to 1996 UPN? And if so, why wasn't I watching Homeboys in Outer Space? As it turns out, one of the main characters in the new 90210 is a black kid. The premise is that he was adopted by a wealthy white family that's so wealthy and so white, they have no recourse but to move to Beverly Hills. I think his name is Webster. I give poor Webster two months before the writers on the show run through their reserve of Afrocentric material. There's gang recruitment, police harassment, interracial dating, struggling to come to grips with his genetic superiority in sporting events and accidental cheerleader afro pick sodomy. That's about six to eight weeks of legitimate tween drama before he's whisked off on an extended "camping trip" or a "vision quest," returning only briefly for a very special Kwanzaa episode in December. (That's when Kwanzaa is, right?)

It’s happened before. In 1991, a black family—the Ashes—moved into the Walshes’ neighborhood on the original Beverly Hills 90210. Vivica Fox played the daughter. I think Nipsey Russell was in there somewhere. For a minute, it seemed that jungle fever had broken out in the ‘Hills; at last, a sassy black woman to put Jason Priestley in his place! But alas, she lasted only one episode—some story about racial profiling, police harassment and an Inglewood boyfriend named Devo—and was never heard from again. The episode’s title was apt: "Ashes to Ashes". With the bulk of black TV writers occupied with conceiving reasons to stuff a midget into a devil costume on Hell Date, the 90210 black dude’s fate seems sealed. Mark my words: he’ll disappear by the end of the season, sometime after cooking up an eight ball for the science fair and cracking a priest across the nose with a sawed-off shotgun. Forget Obama; the Secret Service needs to protect this guy.

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