• The host becomes the guest as Stephen Colbert seeks some perspective with DeRay Mckesson, the leader of #BlackLivesMatter. (CBS)Source: CBS
The American talk show host lets a conversation about white privilege go to candid, uncomfortable places
By
Jeremy Cassar

20 Jan 2016 - 8:37 PM  UPDATED 20 Jan 2016 - 8:42 PM

The Late Show host Stephen Colbert engaged DeRay Mckesson, the creator of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, in a refreshingly honest conversation about race on his show.

The former Colbert Report star even traded seats with Mckesson, a decision that seemed intended as a symbol of a white majority parting with privilege.

Mckesson began the interview by speaking his hard truth, one that could quite easily be said about our own nation:

“We act like we don’t have a legacy or racism here, so I think people get really uncomfortable with it, but we know that we can’t change it until we address it, right?”

An arm of the Republican Party has reacted with “all lives matter”, which seems less a meaningful response and more vapid, word-based trickery, which Mckesson calls “a distraction”, adding that the 26 black lives taken by law enforcement so far in 2016 speak for themselves.

“Because If I have white privilege I want to be able to identify it. Give me some hints as to my white privilege”, asked Colbert.

After informing the public of Campaign Zero, his organisation’s ten-point platform to end police violence, the focus turned to Colbert and his potentially misused white privilege.

“Because If I have white privilege I want to be able to identify it. Give me some hints as to my white privilege”, asked Colbert.

“You have a show, you have a lot of money… a lot of access…” laughed Mckesson.

Colbert probes Mckesson’s answer for an immediate example, asking whether he being on one side and his black guest being on the other is indicative of that privilege.

Mckesson suggested privilege didn’t have to be a bad thing, arguing it can be dismantled – that those like Colbert can “use your resources to create space for people.”

Cue seat switching.

“What can I do to dismantle my white privilege?”

Now-guest Stephen asks the question on many a lip, a question many of us Aussies can afford to ask ourselves: “What can I do to dismantle my white privilege?”

Though we know Colbert’s previous show has done more for humanity than ninety percent of American news programs, even he seems thrown for six when forced to turn inward and assess his contribution to racial equality…