Jon Stewart on the Black Lives Matter movement: 'America suddenly stopped and smelled the racism'

On The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Wednesday, Jon Stewart discussed how people from all walks of life are taking to the streets demanding change in the wake of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery's murders, among many others.

Stewart told Colbert that he believes it is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent quarantine, in which most distractions of our daily lives have been removed, that our country has woken up in the face of racism. "It's almost like, in this moment of more quiet reflection, America suddenly stopped and smelled the racism," stated Stewart, who added, "There was that feeling that we were in a moment's pause, and in that one breath, maybe it suddenly became clear to us. Because, look, the biggest obstacle to change has always been our inability to understand that it's not just about ending segregation. It's about dismantling the barriers."

Stewart also pointed out that while Black people were fighting for equality, white people were building equity, and until we address that, equality won't come. "The disparity then, between a lack of equality and a rising of equity, just exacerbated. So they're always negotiating from this subservient position what should not be a negotiation," said Stewart.

Stewart added to his thought, saying, "Federal Housing Administration in the New Deal explicitly said you cannot loan these low-cost loans that were intended so that white people could gain equity, you cannot give them to Black people. This is the most progressive piece of legislation that may have ever happened on the soil of America, explicitly excluded Black people."

While both Colbert and Stewart recognized the fact that they are "two old white dudes sitting around" talking about racism in America, Colbert expressed the validity in them discussing the widespread acceptance of Black Lives Matter and the understanding of what it actually means. However, Stewart made the point that it is "the 'but' people," who will always be working against the movement.

“They'll come out, you know, ‘What happened to George Floyd was awful. We watched it. And no one condones that. But...," Stewart said, then added, "As soon as you hear 'but,' you know they're about to negate the reality of the situation." Stewart went on to say, “I think there's a large swath of the white population, and you know this as well as I do, that believes somehow that the inequality in the Black community is on them."

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on CBS.

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