I’ve never been a fan of how a white liberal can make an anti-racism comment and it’ll hold more weight, and make more of an impact, than when a black person has something to say about the issue. I understand the unique perspective different kinds of people can bring to the table, but we shouldn’t value some perspectives and opinions more than anyone else’s.
But Jay Leno’s recent comments about the issue are dope because he opened up about his own experiences with racism and the impact he saw black student protesters make as a college student.
During an appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher on Friday, Maher asked Leno and the other panelists whether we’re teetering toward extremism when we oust racially insensitive people from their jobs. He was talking about Tim Wolfe’s resignation from his post as president of the University of Missouri because of the racist climate on campus.
“Do we purge even clueless people from their job now?” Maher asked. “Is that where we are with the battle against racism?”
“I say yes,” Leno said plainly. “You know why? Because if you’re president of the university, you shouldn’t be clueless.” He argued that the efforts of the student protesters were validated.
“When I saw the faces of those African-American young kids when they had won, they looked like Julian Bond in 1965. They looked like all the black students that protested when I was in college that did the sit-ins that didn’t think they would get whatever it was [that they wanted].”
“It’s just a different version of that. I applaud them. They looked like they won something. One of those people could be a senator,” Leno explained.
He’s right—kudos to Leno.
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.