The main story on Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight” was Black hair. Host John Oliver said he knows he’s not the right person to talk about Black hair – “I look like I still go to an old time-y barber named Valentino and ask for a tidy Liza Minnelli,” he joked – but he was willing to risk embarrassing himself because he was really talking about something he knows a lot about: injustice. White people’s lack of knowledge and lack of interest in learning about Black people’s hair and hairstyles often leads to or is a pretext for discrimination. For example, Oliver rolled a news clip of a Black woman talking about being rejected from a call center job for having dreadlocks.
The occasion for Oliver talking about this was the CROWN Act campaign, an effort to introduce legislation that will ensure protection against racial discrimination via hairstyle, which disproportionately affects Black women.
After a long breakdown of the unique characteristics of and culture around Black hair, and all the ways Black people are discriminated against for it, Oliver had a message for all his fellow white people who may want to share their uninformed opinion or ask invasive questions about what Black people choose to do with their hair – a message delivered by Black celebrities Uzo Aduba, Craig Robinson, and Leslie Jones. They paraphrased some common white people’s questions about Black hair, like “What does a durag do?”
The answer to every question: “Google it. F—ing Google it.” Or YouTube, Wikipedia, Bing, whatever. The information is out there. “And once you get the information, you can appreciate all the beauty and hard work it takes to keeping my hair laid and looking good, okay?” Leslie Jones said.
And if you’re not interested in Googling it, there’s another option: “Leave us the f— alone.” If you don’t want to learn, you don’t get to have an opinion or say judgemental comments described as questions.
“You can learn what the f— a box braid is, b-tch!” Jones concluded.
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