The Nightly Show and Race

Nightly ShowI recently lamented the loss of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The show served a key purpose for me: entertain and educate me while I make dinner (rarely are visuals needed to understand the show).

When the show went off the air a few weeks ago, I figured I’d wait until the new Daily Show returned in late September. I’m not sure if I’ll like what Trevor Noah brings to the show, as his brief appearances on Stewart’s show were uneven at best. Noah’s humor seems to look down on the viewers, while Stewart laughs along with his audience.

However, on a whim, I recently started watching The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. It’s very similar to The Daily Show (with a few key differences), and as it turns out, it’s excellent.

Those key differences are that much of the show is about race relations in the US and that it features a panel discussion instead of interviews. The latter is more of a change of pace than anything else–it’s refreshing because it’s different.

But it’s the former that I’ve really been enjoying. “Enjoying” may not be the right word. How can I put this…I think I need to improve my understanding of race relations in the US, and The Nightly Show is serving an important role for me personally.

It’s not that I otherwise ignore news about race in America. I’m aware of the major instances over the past few years, many of them involving police brutality. And it’s not that Jon Stewart ignored them–he talked about them quite a bit.

But it’s different to hear Larry Wilmore–an African-American man–talk about race than to hear Stewart talk about it. I think it’s important for me as a white American male to listen to the perspective of Wilmore and his correspondents as they talk about race.

I can’t pinpoint exact things that I’m learning. It’s more about the overall influx of information that I’ve been missing out on for a long, long time. And I know that watching a 22-minute comedy show isn’t nearly enough for me to understand race in America. But it’s a start.

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