Tonight’s Doctor Who was, considering the general age group the show is aimed at, one of the most hard-hitting, powerful pieces of television I have seen for a long time. Not content with rattling cages by having a female Doctor, the writers composed an episode that serves as both a reminder of how far we have come on the subject of racial equality – and as a warning that, without guardianship, we can easily slide back to bleaker times.
Rosa does not hold back. The episode is a deep examination of the inequality faced by black people in 1950s America, including segregation and treatment as second-class citizens. Scene after harrowing scene exposes the struggles of having one’s worth as a human being undermined at every turn. It also shows the dogged determination of Rosa Parks herself, a woman who conducted herself with quiet dignity at every turn. She was not the first to refuse to give up her seat on a bus, but she was the catalyst for a much wider movement. With racism’s ugly face having never truly gone and now threatening to make a comeback, it is important – especially for young people – to see what the world can become if we forget to treat our fellow human beings as human beings. Equally, there is the positive message – one simple act of calm determination and a refusal to give in to ignorance and hate can change the world.