James Corden and 'Late Late Show' Band Leader Reggie Watts Break Down in Tears While Discussing Racism
By Antoinette Bueno
James Corden addressed the protests going on nationwide following the tragic death of 46-year-old Minnesota man George Floyd on Monday's The Late Late Show, and was overcome with emotion during a conversation with his band leader, Reggie Watts.
Corden started his somber monologue by acknowledging that he struggled to know what to say to his viewers, given that he felt his opinion and voice weren't relevant. However, he passionately said that he realized people like him have to speak up -- specifically, white people.
"White people can not just say anymore, 'Yeah, I'm not racist,' and think that that's enough because it's not," he said. "It's not enough because make no mistake, this is our problem to solve. How can the black community dismantle a problem that they didn't create?"
"These protests, they have to result in change because when athletes took a knee peacefully at a football game, the vice president stood up and walked out of that stadium rather than see that protest," he continued. "Now, a policeman takes a knee to a man's neck and our leadership hide in a bunker rather than see this protest."
Corden went on to state how black and brown communities have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, receiving less access to healthcare even while making up a higher percentage of essential workers.
"So they help society more, but they get help less," he said. "We shouldn't just be trying to understand the rage, we should feel the rage."
"I know that I want to do more," he added of his personal commitment, noting that he benefits from white privilege and can't understand the pain of the black community. "I want to learn more and let that be a start."
Corden then had a conversation with Watts through video chat. Watts said that fortunately, his parents shielded him from experiencing overt racism growing up, but that they themselves definitely experienced discrimination in the United States. For example, their marriage wasn't recognized due to laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
Watts broke down in tears and said he was having a hard time processing everything going on.
"I have this history in the black community in the Midwest that I don't access a lot because there's a lot of pain and emotion there, so it's hard," he tearfully said. "There's so much happening that I plan to use my platform for good. I go in and out, you know?"
Corden also cried after seeing Watts' breakdown.
"I'm so sorry that you're feeling this," he said through tears. "I would give anything to be with you and put my arm around you."
Watts went on to further explain his complex emotions.
"I also feel like there is a pressure, you know?" he shared. "It's like, well, if you're of color, you know, you gotta represent your whole crew. I grew up all my life really trying to be seen as a human being and to not have people affected by the way that they look, but I also know that's just reality. Mostly, I'm feeling so much. It's hard for me."
Meanwhile, on Monday's episode of Late Night With Seth Meyers, the host turned the mic over to writer Amber Ruffin, explaining that as a white man, he couldn't speak of the fear black people have when it comes to the police. Ruffin told the story of when she was a teenager and a new driver, and was pulled over by a white male cop at a speed trap. She said the cop began shouting and cursing at her, which caused her to be extremely afraid.
"And I think, 'This is how I die,'" she recalled. "'This man is going to kill me.' And I start crying. I'm bawling because I am 100 percent sure that this man is going to drag me out of my car, beat me to death and, you know, tomorrow on the news everyone will be like, 'She didn't seem angry but who knows?'"
But Ruffin shared that the cop's demeanor changed drastically when he saw he was yelling at a terrified teenage girl and that he quickly gentled his tone.
"Once he saw a teenage girl, shouting was no longer fun," she said. "Look, I have a thousand stories like this. The cops have pulled a gun on me, the cops have followed me to my own home and every black person I know has a few stories like that. Black people leave the house every day knowing that at any time, we could get murdered by police."
"When you hear people chalking it up to a few bad apples instead of how corrupt an entire system is, it becomes too much," she continued. "And I wanted to end this with something hopeful but ... maybe it's time to get uncomfortable."
For more on the protests against police brutality, watch the video below: