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The Brooklyn Nine-Nine star and America’s Got Talent host appeared on Monday’s Late Night With Seth Meyers and was given a chance to address the backlash over his weekend Twitter post addressing racism in America in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
“One of the big things I tweeted was the fact that I felt that defeating white supremacy without the help of white people could create a black supremacy,” Crews explained. “Now, the term ‘black supremacy’ was just destroyed.”
He continued: “What I was trying to say is: I, as a member of the black community, there have been so-called gatekeepers who decide who’s black and who’s not. In this effort to really push equality and to end white supremacy and systemic racism, there are certain black people who have determined that what I’m doing has no bearing. I have been rendered moot because I’m ‘successful.’ My point is just the fact that we need all of us.”
Crews said when discussing women’s rights, “Women’s rights without men, nothing changes. If men don’t understand how to treat women, we’re going to have a problem. And it’s the same thing with white people. If white people don’t understand how to treat us as a community, we’re going to have a problem. But also, in our own community, we have to know how to treat each other. We have to allow ourselves to agree, to disagree, to have different viewpoints. Because right now, in the words of Joe Biden, if you don’t vote for me, ‘you ain’t black.’”
Crews said, “These are terms that are even passed around within our own community and I’m going: Guys, it’s bigger than that. It’s bigger than that. We are bigger than that. And that is the point I was trying to make, but people held on to the ‘black supremacy’ concept and, again, it’s Twitter and taken out of context, anybody can roll with anything.”
That said, he wanted everyone to know the tweet was “said out of love in an effort for reconciliation. I want to be the solution. I do not want to be the problem. And I do understand that we need all of us, we need every American out there, to contribute to this new watershed moment that we have right now. I mean, this is an opportunity. This is an opportunity. And we can all get better, but I do not want to see us get more and more extreme — that is the biggest point I’m trying to make.”
Crews said he thinks the current events will eventually play out onscreen on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the police procedural comedy he has starred in since 2013.
“We actually all got on a Zoom call just the other day because of what’s happening in this country,” he said. “We were witnessing so many abuses of power. We had some somber talks and some really, really eye-opening conversation about how to handle this new season.”
Crews’s tweet sparked backlash Sunday, including from his former Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Everybody Hates Chris co-star Tyler James Williams. He then made an attempt to explain his remarks on Twitter, saying they came from “a spirit of love and reconciliation,” but he also said he felt anything he tweeted would somehow be “twist[ed]” for “evil.”
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