Musicians, actors, and other high-profile figures have been “taking a knee” in solidarity with NFL players who are protesting racial injustice by sitting out the national anthem, leading some to accuse them of being unpatriotic. In light of those criticisms, The Daily Show's Trevor Noah asked himself: When is it the right time for black people to protest? “For me, it’s right before lunch,” he joked. “Because that’s when I’m hangry.”
Others disagree. If you ask Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, for example, then you’ll learn that apparently football players’ right to free speech actually ends when they’re on the football field. Sure, that sounds like a member of the Trump administration fundamentally misunderstanding the First Amendment, but Noah reasoned that maybe the objection is just to black people protesting in the workplace? Well, no, because Sarah Huckabee Sanders thought it was a fireable offense when Jemele Hill spoke out against Trump condoning white supremacy on her own private Twitter account.
Fair enough, conceded Noah, but then it should at least be acceptable as long as they’re not doing it out in public, right? Wrong again! Because when Stevie Wonder kneeled at his own concert at the Global Citizen Festival in New York, calling for his audience to “interrupt hate, stand down bigotry, condemn sexism,” former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh called him “another ungrateful black multi millionaire.”
That’s when Noah went in:
Ungrateful to whom? I’m fascinated by that concept. People always say that. Ungrateful to whom? This idea that black people should be grateful is some sneaky-ass racism. A white billionaire spends a year screaming that America is a disaster, and he’s “in touch with the country” but when a black man kneels quietly, he should be grateful for the successes that America has allowed him to have?
There’s a risk that in all this hoopla, we might actually forget why NFL players started kneeling to begin with. Trump’s evangelical adviser Robert Jeffress, for instance, suggested that football players should consider themselves lucky that they aren’t being “shot in the head for taking a knee” during the national anthem, “like they would be in North Korea.”
“You think black Americans are free from the worry of being shot by agents of the state?” asked Noah in disbelief. “That’s the whole thing that they’re protesting in the first place!”
Correction, Sept. 26: This post originally misspelled Jemele Hill’s first name.