Comedian Deon Cole is known for bringing the ridiculousness to hit shows Black-ish and its spinoff, Grown-ish. But on Monday night, he brought his particular brand of silliness back to his former gig at Conan, where he was once on staff as a writer and performer.
Never one to shy away from a little high-end flash, Cole appeared in Conan’s guest chair wearing a pair of sparkly silver Louboutin high-top sneakers, which his host couldn’t help but remark on. Apparently, the red bottoms were a departure from Cole’s regular label of choice.
“You know, I always wear Gucci shoes and stuff, but I have to—black people told me to stop wearing Gucci, so we had to stop wearing Gucci for a minute,” Cole explained to his former boss. Using visual aids, he refreshed his audience on the blackface sweater controversy that recently plagued the label, including equally controversial designs like Katy Perry’s recently recalled “blackface” shoe and the “noose” hoodie Burberry sent down its Fall-Winter ‘19 runway.
“See, I think what they need, they need to hire a black person to say ‘uh-uh,’” Cole said. “There’s no black people working there! They need one black person to go ‘uh-uh’—he needs an office, and an assistant, everything. His whole job is ‘uh-uh. No, no, no, no, no,’” he added, shaking his head emphatically.
It’s a sentiment we’ve shared, as The Glow Up has covered the seemingly endless stream of racially-charged gaffes from luxury labels like Prada, Gucci, Burberry and, to a lesser extent, Perry’s team (who we still maintain just made some uglass shoes in a range of unfortunate colors). What each of these incidents demonstrates—if not overt racism—is a willful ignorance of cultural sensitivity and a glaring absence of diversity among the design teams and decision-makers at these labels. By keeping the doors of entry closed to a cross-cultural talent pool, these labels have made themselves vulnerable to the very outrage culture they at times seem to be courting.
Like Cole, we think this is an easy problem to solve. Even a little representation can go a long way in solving a race problem—though we’d like to see far more than one black person in a position to give approval and feedback.
But does Cole think he’s cut out for the job?
“Actually, I did it before, when I was working here,” he quipped. “I stopped a lot of shit, Conan.”