For a couple of years, whenever moments of appalling racism would dominate the news cycle for an entire week, I'd think to myself either "I can't wait to hear what Totally Biased has to say" or "What would be Jon Stewart's exasperated but largely funny response to all this, and could he please not sing again like he tried to do at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear?"
Well, Totally Biased doesn't exist anymore (although a couple of weeks ago, Totally Biased alums W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu started joining forces again for a new podcast, Politically Re-Active, so Kamau has now hosted so many different 30-to-120-minute shows in the podcastosphere that he makes Guy Smiley look like a lazy douche), and Stewart left The Daily Show in the hands of Trevor Noah. So these days, it's "I can't wait to hear what Larry Wilmore has to say" or sometimes "How will Noah's non-American and more global perspective handle this one?"
I'm still trying to make sense of a bizarre and dismal week where two black men lost their lives due to police brutality within days of each other and then a peaceful #BlackLivesMatter protest in response to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile's police-related deaths ended with five cops being gunned down by a sniper. Fortunately, Wilmore and The Nightly Show didn't take the week off despite the July 4 holiday weekend cutting into the program's nightly schedule, and they were around to help us make sense of this latest round of race-related (and gun-related) tragedies.
While Wilmore admits to sometimes feeling as puzzled as the rest of us over how to make sense of it all (he has frequently said that he's still trying to figure out how to properly address such serious tragedies during a comedy show), he's certain about one thing: white conservatives need to shut the fuck up about matters of race they will never be able to understand and will never experience due to white privilege and simple ignorance.
This is why I like The Nightly Show: only The Nightly Show would rip apart right-wing talking points using CGI tumbleweeds straight out of Rango.
There's a frequent saying in hip-hop and R&B: "Don't get it twisted." Racists are the ones who get it twisted all the time. Their use of the phrase "#AllLivesMatter" to diminish or mock the efforts of the #BlackLivesMatter movement is the 2016 equivalent of the right either whining about "reverse racism" (God, that moronic phrase makes me want to go back in time and leave flaming bags of shit on the doorsteps of high school and college classmates who were staunch Republicans and were fond of using that phrase) or trying to mindfuck the public into thinking affirmative action should be eliminated because "Race relations are better now!," as part of the affirmative action debate I witnessed in college back in the '90s.
"#AllLivesMatter" isn't just "reverse racism" all over again or "I don't see race"--that silly phrase Stephen Colbert, the previous holder of The Nightly Show's Comedy Central time slot, was fond of repeating back when he used to satirize right-wingers by pretending to be one for an entire half-hour--all over again. It's also George Wallace all over again. During Politically Re-Active's premiere episode, UC Berkeley professor Ian Haney-López astutely points out to Bell and Kondabolu the way that racists like to distort and twist around the opinions of people of color who challenge them by saying those people of color are racist, an insidious type of mind game I've been sometimes subjected to during occasions where I've pointed out or criticized moments of racism. Haney-López says this frustrating phenomenon of civil rights activists being denounced as racist by the right is a continuation of the vitriol of George Wallace the pro-segregation white politician (and a historical figure Gary Sinise loved portraying on cable TV so much that he weirdly did it twice for John Frankenheimer), not George Wallace the frequently funny black comedian.
And white people who aren't "woke" and that 4,000-year-old black vampire on Fox News--nope, not Blacula or Blade but the black vampire who goes by the name of Stacey Dash--aren't the only ones who spout ignorant shit about #BlackLivesMatter. A certain worrisome faction of Asian Americans who represent the latest in a history of anti-black racism within Asian American subcommunities recently made themselves known during their support of Peter Liang, an Asian American NYPD officer who killed Akai Gurley, an unarmed black man. Jenn Fang from the Asian American/Canadian politics blog Reappropriate eloquently criticizes this faction's treatment of African Americans in what has to be my favorite response to various forms of anti-#BlackLivesMatter sentiments last week, other than Wilmore's first discussion of the nationwide outrage over Sterling's death: the insightful Reappropriate post entitled "I'm Not Here for the Asian Americans Who Won't Get Behind #BlackLivesMatter." She goes in hard on other Asian Americans who don't realize how racist or anti-black they sound when they discuss racial justice.
"To those who rallied to free Peter Liang on the grounds that you were moved to fight for 'two victims' in 'one tragedy': Where were you when Freddie Grey's [sic] killers went free? Where are you now in the fight for justice for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and all the other Black men and women whose name [sic] have become hashtags?," wrote Fang. "If you are the sort of person who only shows up to defend Asian American lives in the Black Lives Matter fight, then Black lives do not matter to you."
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"Sit down" is the same exact thing that ought to be said to the sort of person who only shows up to defend Asian American lives during #BlackLivesMatter.