The Daily Show host sees a dangerous shift in what modern racism looks like.
Last week, the police officer who fired seven gunshots into Minneapolis-area school cafeteria worker Philando Castile during a routine traffic stop was acquitted of all charges by a jury of his peers. It’s a heartbreaking, infuriating end to Castile’s story, and one that has become grimly inevitable in the aftermath of killings like this one: A black person is shot to death by police. Outrage ensues. And eventually, damn near every time, the shooter goes free anyway.
In between taping segments of The Daily Show last night, Trevor Noah spoke extemporaneously about his experience trying to navigate this environment as a black person living in America. After noting that Castile had been pulled over an incredible forty-nine times in a decade and change, Noah shared that in the six years that he’s lived in the United States, he’s been stopped somewhere between eight and ten times—a number that “always blows white people’s minds,” he added, “Which I didn’t know was a thing.” Noah has developed a method for approaching these situations: As soon as the car is off, he throws his arms out the driver-side window, because, he says, he’d rather the officer tell him that he’s being weird than run the risk that faulty assumptions about what he’s doing instead mean that the interaction ends in tragedy.
Noah concluded by suggesting that that although this country’s justice system continues to grapple with racism, the form that racism takes is a bit more nuanced—and, because it’s harder to spot, more dangerous.
Oftentimes in America, the conversation gets caught up in racism as itpertains to black and white. But I don’t believe that that is theconversation. I honestly don’t believe that that is the conversation.I believe that the police force is trained in such a way that itcreates a state racism, which is different. It’s not a racism, like,“N—–.” It’s a very different thing.
When a police killing happens, the debate immediately centers on whether or not that particular cop harbored racist sentiments. But this, Noah says, misses the point.
We’ve seen countless videos of a white woman shooting at the cops, andthe cops are like, “Oh, We’ll make a plan to get that gun away.”Because in their heads, they’re like, “I mean, come on. She’s a—she’smaking a mistake. That’s what she’s doing. She’s not used to crime.Look at her.” And then when you flip it [and the victim is black],there’s almost no way to not get shot.
Noah, who grew up with an entirely different prism of racism in apartheid-era South Africa, can make jokes with the best of them, but he’s always at his most compelling when he brings a perspective to a story that Colbert and Meyers and Bee and their ilk simply cannot provide. The whole clip is worth your time.