As usual, James Corden broke away from the late night TV pack with a very different segment on the Black Lives Matter movement Monday night.
He sat down and had an honest conversation with his bandleader, comedian/musician Reggie Watts. And things got VERY emotional.
The British host welcomed his viewers to the calming moment, saying:
“Good evening everyone, thank you for staying awake for our show on one of the saddest, scariest, yet most important times of our lives. As you’ll all know, on Monday of last week a black man named George Floyd was murdered by the excessive force of the police.”
“If it was a one-off event, it would be an appalling, horrific tragedy that should shake all of us to our core. Yet this was the latest in a string of killings of unarmed black citizens by white people. Breonna Taylor was shot by police in her own home. Ahmaud Arbery was going for a jog when he was shot and killed by two men. And sadly, there are so many more victims that I could mention.”
He said he’d been “struggling” all weekend with what to say:
“Surely, this is a time for me to listen, not talk. And then I realize that that’s part of the problem. People like me have to speak up. To be clear, I’m not talking about late-night hosts, or people who are fortunate like I am to have to have a platform. I’m talking about white people. White people cannot just say anymore, ‘Yeah, I’m not racist,’ and think that that’s enough, because it’s not. It’s not enough, because make no mistake, this is our problem to solve. How can the black community dismantle a problem that they didn’t create?”
But it was Reggie who obviously had a much more personal attachment to all this. Corden checked in with his friend, asking how he was doing with all this.
The comic replied:
“Ah, crazy, I don’t know, feeling so much simultaneously, it’s crazy… I was fortunate to grow up in a place where I was pretty protected by my parents when it came to forms of racism that happened in my neighborhood. My mom was a fierce fighter and would get out of the house and get in people’s faces about, you know, people calling me the N-word or whatever growing up and being different and stuff. So I feel really grateful that my parents and my father fought so hard to make my life feel normal and to have me grow up feeling like I’m a human being rather than I’m a demographic.”
Reggie may have been lucky, but he does have a history with racism:
“And just going back in my history, my father growing up in the Midwest and being in Vietnam and not being able to get a job when he got out of the Army because he was black. And the economy wasn’t doing that well and he had to reenlist, got sent back to Vietnam. And then when my parents got married their marriage wasn’t recognized in the U.S. because of laws prohibiting interracial marriage.”
He continued, tearing up as he said:
“I have this history in the black community in the Midwest that I don’t access a lot because there’s a lot of pain and emotion there… So it’s hard and so much is happening. And I want to use my platform for good. I go in and out, you know? It’s tough.”
Corden responded to his friend’s pain by crying himself, saying with a shaking voice:
“I’m so sorry that you’re feeling this. I would give anything to be in a room with you and put my arm around. I would so much, I would give anything to be able to put my arm around you.”
Such a sad, real moment for late night TV. See the entire emotional convo for yourself (below):
[Image via Late Late Show/YouTube.]