by Yvette Carnell
W. Kamau Bell is going to “explore” the Ku Klux Klan in his new series ‘United Shades of America’, according to the promotional clip posted on CNN’s website. The comedic “gadfly”, as the CNN caption describes him, will explore our country and “its various groups and subcultures.”
Exploring is what we do with tiny home communities and the Amish. These are nonconformist groups that have overstepped the boundaries of normalcy and in doing so, invented a real world for themselves that is altogether uncommon in day-to-day American life.
The Ku Klux Klan, however, is not some eccentric outlier. It’s a terror organization. White mob violence inflicted on African-American communities was frequently led by the KKK. As the Equal Justice Institute painstakingly detailed, this mob violence often ended with black people hanging from trees.
EJI reports more than 4,000 lynchings of African Americans occurred in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia between 1877 and 1950.
Now, however, in the progressive diminishment of African-American life, Bell, who is black, is trading on the raw torment of African-Americans in this country in exchange for a CNN show.
In that aforementioned CNN clip, Bell thanks the Klansman for his time and laments that they can’t have their discussion in a “coffee shop on a sunny day” where Bell could buy the racist a “piece of pie.”
Bell, if asked, would probably make the predictably overworn point that through the convergence of comedy and critique, he’s revealing the utter irrationality of the KKK. That’s not the issue, though. A terror group doesn’t (shouldn’t) get to have a polite conversation with a person who looks like the people it infamously and viciously slaughtered and tortured.
Families of the those killed on 9/11 will not be meeting with the hijackers who doomed the flights of their loved ones on that day, and Bell, ACLU’s Ambassador of Racial Justice, should not be having late night meet-ups with the Klan.
There was a time when I wouldn’t even need to write this. Once upon a time black folk just knew better. It was understood.