Conan O'Brien has been taking a different approach with his show this week, as protests continue in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. On Wednesday, O'Brien jumped right into his interview with stand-up comedian and TV host W. Kamau Bell to talk about how white people can connect their lives to the movement.
"Right now a lot of white people are frozen by the 'I don't know what to do so I'll do nothing.' That's why black people get brutalized by police officers over and over again, because white people go, 'That was so bad, I feel so bad,' but then a couple of weeks later, 'Back to my yoga classes.'"
O'Brien pointed out that the recent protests have been "very visual," and even brought attention to celebrities using their platform to be "very visual about their protesting." However, O'Brien shared that he is concerned that in weeks, or even a year, from now, current actions won't be followed up on. Bell responded by suggesting that O'Brien connect his life to the actual movement by telling black Americans that he will "do a complete internal audit" of his show and "ask TBS to do the same thing."
"Of where the black folks work at TBS. Where the people of color work. And not give me the percentage of the total but what level they are at. How many people at the top level. How many people are at the lowest levels of TBS and my show," Bell told O'Brien. Bell then suggested that the late night host vow that in one year it will look different.
Bell told O'Brien, "Right now, we need white people to show their work."
"A lot of white people, it's easy to change your Twitter avi to a black background, or to Black Lives Matter, but eventually you're going to turn it back to that wacky picture. We need white people to not only do the work, but show their work, because we can't trust that the work will get done," said Bell.
I've had a lot of conversations this week I wasn't expecting. This 1 was truly incredible. Thank you @ConanOBrien for being open to talking about racism & white supremacy in such depth. Conan, meet @kateschatz who's in charge of your whiteness from now on. https://t.co/MDTcPTzJwx— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) June 4, 2020
Ultimately, Bell told O'Brien that he feels like a lot of people's efforts are focused on the outside and it needs to focus on the inside.
"One thing white people need to get is that, fighting white supremacy, being an anti-racist, should be a selfish act because if the world is more equitable and just for black people and people of color, it's automatically better for white people. This is truly the rising tide that lifts all boats." stated Bell.
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