Stephen Colbert volunteered to represent white people in a conversation about race on Tuesday, saying he was inspired by President Barack Obama’s remarks conveying his own experiences with racial profiling.
“I believe it’s my turn to be honest about the white experience: Black people are scary,” Colbert said. “And, folks, that’s not just me saying that. I mean, just ask the TV.”
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Following a parade of Fox News talking heads trying to paint African-Americans as hyper-violent, Colbert crunched his own numbers and found that the rest of the country needed to be afraid of the .009 percent of black Americans who were actually arrested for murder.
“Now, [that] doesn’t sound like a lot. Until you consider that we don’t know which .009 percent,” he said. “So, to be safe, we have to be scared of all of them. This is the same reason I assume all Arabs are terrorists and all Irishmen are leprechauns.”
Colbert also poked fun at anyone suspicious of the story that former murder suspect George Zimmerman had resurfaced to help rescue a family from an overturned truck.
“It may be the first time anyone has ever said, ‘I’m sure glad George Zimmerman was following me,'” Colbert said. “And if you’re one of the people who believes he should be in jail, that means you wish that that family was still trapped in their burning car. Who’s the monster now? I’ll give you a hint — it’s you.”
But, Colbert said, he was dismayed to see racial tension continue in the wake of Zimmerman’s acquittal on July 13 for his role in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Yet he still expressed empathy for Obama’s impromptu speech on July 19.
“Even as president, everywhere he goes, he’s followed by cops,” Colbert said soberly of Obama. “Especially when he’s in his limousine. Maybe because it’s black, I don’t know.”
Then the Colbert Report host shared his own experience of getting followed around while shopping — by clerks trying to sell him on the latest wares from Tommy Bahama.
“Why? Just because I’m white, I’m gonna buy something in a loose-fitting breezy plaid?” he demanded. “I am, but that’s not the point.”
Watch Colbert discuss the Zimmerman rescue story, aired on Comedy Central, below.
And he tackles the American “color-bind” on “The Word” here.