W. Kamau Bell: “I’m Married to a White Woman with Two Mixed-Race Kids, So I’m a Bridge-Builder”
Last night, the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum at Claremont McKenna College hosted comedian Walter Kamau Bell to give a talk about ending racism. Prior to the event, Bell told the Claremont Independent, “I absolutely have an agenda. It won’t be hidden. And I’m also married to a white woman with two mixed-race kids, so I’m a bridge-builder.” Additionally, Bell noted, “the best thing that ever happened to me was that a friend of mine in Oakland—white woman, lesbian, black kids—just to say, this is a very specific type of person. In Oakland there’s a lot of those. And we were talking about my racism show. And she said, ‘Kamau, you can’t end racism and make sexism worse.’”
Bell, introduced as a “Social Justice Ambassador,” stated that he plans to end racism by instructing white people to form a tighter-knit community and to take pride in their race. “White people, you have to have some pride,” said Bell. “There’s gotta be reasons for white people to have good white pride. Right now, you’re letting white people run rampant, and that makes the rest of us have to work harder. And that’s bullshit.” During his talk, Bell addressed the white audience members. “White people, I can see your faces, the lights are on, the lights are shining. Say it loud, say, ‘I’m white and I’m proud!’ Here we go, white people. This is happening, this is a thing. ‘I’m white and I’m proud!’”
Bell began his show by listing the words he was not going to use during the performance. “Words like ‘minority,’ ‘Caucasian,’ ‘colorblind,’ ‘people of color,’ ‘nonwhite.’ Words like ‘diversity,’ words like ‘multicultural,’ ‘multiculturalism,’ ‘multiculturalocity,’” [sic] the list began. “Words like, ‘Martin Luther King, Jr.’ And finally, the last word you won’t hear in this show is ‘the n-word.’ Oh, don’t be confused—you’ll definitely hear the word ‘nigger’—you just won’t hear ‘the n-word.’ In fact, ‘NIGGER!’” he shouted, displaying the word in all caps on the projector. Bell did not use this word at any other time during the performance, but he did use the word “diversity” despite his initial plans not to.
Bell later stated that he feels sorry for college students because “You’re all on Twitter, you’re all on Snapchat, you’re all on Instagram, and so the world finds out what happens when you’re in college and colleges can’t be these little tight petri dishes anymore.” Though Bell stated, “I feel bad for you guys. I could’ve made a lot of mistakes and you never heard about it,” that didn’t stop him from showing a Facebook photo of a group of current students’ regrettable Halloween costumes and making fun of them in front of their peers. “It’s America, it’s your country. Enjoy your freedom. But there are consequences. That’s how free speech works,” Bell stated.
Bell, whose performance was—as promised—heavy on partisan content, also shared his opinions on Donald Trump. “I don’t give a shit if you’re not voting for him. That’s your boy, and you’re connected through whiteness,” Bell stated. “It’s not about voting, it’s about stopping the speech.” Bell also criticized the staff of the Claremont Independent during his show. “Latinos and black people get killed by police unarmed way more than white people. That’s all facts. But you’re like, I don’t know, I’m still not convinced… I write for the Independent.’”
When the Independent asked Bell about free speech from a comedian’s perspective—specifically, comedians such as Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld citing political correctness as a reason not to perform on college campuses—Bell stated that oversensitivity had nothing to do with the issue. “The story was that somebody told Chris Rock that they had stopped performing at colleges,” he said. “And then Chris told Jerry Seinfeld, and Jerry Seinfeld told the media.” Bell also noted, “Colleges are always more politically correct than real society because when you go to college you’re supposed to learn new things. That’s just how it works.”
Bell said the reason he thinks these comedians don’t perform at colleges is because colleges don’t want them. “At some point you age out of performing at colleges. Colleges don’t necessarily want to hear what a man in his sixties, like Jerry Seinfeld, or a man of Chris Rock’s—in his fifties—thinks,” the 44-year-old Bell stated. Additionally, Bell claimed, “You can’t afford those guys because they’re billionaires. Or millionaires, almost billionaires.”
Chris Rock might disagree with Bell’s analysis of the story. “I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative,” Rock stated just over a year ago. “Not in their political views—not like they’re voting Republican—but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody.” Similarly, Jerry Seinfeld recently stated, “I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges, they’re so PC.’” Fortunately, Bell told the Independent that he is “a big fan also of finding out that I’m wrong about something and having people explain to me how I could be right about it.”
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