W. Kamau Bell revealed over the weekend that the media is so dominated by white people that he was the “only person of color” on his own show.
During an interview on CNN about how the media had avoided the topic of race in coverage of Donald Trump, Bell explained that he had found that “racial anxiety” was still prevalent while filming United Shades of America, which attempts to open a discussion about race in the United States.
“I think the thing we do with the show is try to have conversations with people, and not just shout slogans at them the way Trump is doing,” Bell said. “And I think if you have conversations with people I think you can reach a new level of understanding or at least make new space for humanity. But Trump is capitalizing on people’s most base fears.”
“America is always afraid of a race conversation,” he continued. “Not all of America. I mean, if you read Jamelle Bouie or TheRoot.com, there’s lots of media covering it. But mainstream media, which is in large part owned by white people, is always afraid of an honest and open race conversation.”
Bell pointed out that his own CNN show was not immune to a lack of diversity.
“Maybe it would be great to have a race conciliation person in everybody’s office,” he laughed. “But you also just need more people of color and more LGBT and more different types people.”
“Even on my show, United Shades of America, I was the only person of color on that show when we were in production,” Bell added. “Which meant sometimes I would say things and everybody around me would look at me like I was crazy. And I’d be like, ‘Can I go get a black person to step into the room right now so you guys know I’m not crazy?'”
“You don’t get great ideas from when everybody [in the room] is the same. You get great ideas when everybody is different and has different ideas.”
Watch the video below from CNN’s Reliable Sources, broadcast May 29, 2016.