Comic W. Kamau Bell Thinks White Liberals Need to Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
MJ: These kinds of incidents sometimes go differently when white people intervene. I wonder if you think white bystanders have a responsibility to do something in the moment, besides just film.
WKB: I think the Starbucks incident proves the value of intervention in those situations, even if the intervention is just like, “I’m going to film this and upload it immediately” instead of like, “I’m going to film this and hold on to it.” Some white people are probably aware that their skin privilege gives them the ability to step into situations that it does not give black and brown people. So I think that yes, white people do need to do more. I mean, I understand that sometimes safety is an issue. But clearly when you’re in a Starbucks, you’re in a safe place, and there’s many ways to intervene. You can step up like their friend did and step in the middle of it and say, “What’s going on here?” We can’t expect white people to be John Brown. But there’s something between John Brown and going like, “Ah, it’ll probably be fine.”
No, not just liberals. Everybody who wants simple justice on the street. Yes, we white people, or in a case like Starbucks white, Chicano or Asian. It’s our personal side of see something, say something. Break the glass wall around us and take in whats happening. The phones we carry bear witness after the fact and let anyone that wants to stop us from saying something they will not be anonymous and we will not be bullied. Not that long ago it was step up for the Sikh or Muslim when somebody does something ugly. Not the current events have emboldened xenophobes and racists we too have to step up. Elevate our willingness to act.