Amber Ruffin is a favorite here at Pajiba. The comedian/writer for Late Night With Seth Meyers has been cracking us up for years, while shining a light on the racial injustices in everyday life. When white Americans were shocked to learn just how racist our nation is—as shown by the election of the belligerent bigot Donald Trump—Ruffin teased us with “Join the fun!” When the political stage or pop culture offered us moments exciting and infuriating, Ruffin said “what” in ways fresh, funny, and thought-provoking. Teaming with Meyers and lesbian writer Jenny Hagel, she offered laughs alongside a lesson in context with the recurring gag “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell.” This week, Ruffin’s been using her platform on late night television to talk about Black Lives Matter and her experiences with the police as a Black woman.
“Amber Ruffin’s Experience with the Police” is a series of segments where she drops her winking comic persona to get personal.
“I have a thousand stories like this,” Ruffin says in the first video, “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. Many have more than a few. Black people leave the house every day knowing at any time, we could get murdered by the police. It’s a lot. And sometimes, when you see news footage like we have seen the past week, and you hear people chalking it up to a few bad apples instead of how corrupt an entire system is, it becomes too much. And that’s what I wanted to say. I wanted to end this with something hopeful to—you know—provide some comfort. But maybe it’s time to get uncomfortable.”
Here are some of her stories.
“Amber Ruffin’s Experience with the Police: Driving as Teen”
“Amber Ruffin’s Experience with the Police: Skipping in Chicago”
After sharing a harrowing story of the time a Chicago cop pulled a gun on her for skipping, Ruffin explains, “There’s this unspoken rule that Black people are supposed to take it in stride. Can you imagine someone pulling a gun on you and being expected to take it in stride? Now imagine a bunch of incidents like that over one lifetime. Multiply that by 43 million African-Americans. And that is why things are like this right now. That is why people are angry. And if you’re not angry, why not?”
“Amber Ruffin’s Experience with the Police: When I Tell You to Stop, You Stop”
“We used to open this show with fun jokes,” Ruffin recalls. “But for the last three days, we’ve opened the show with stories about me, getting mistreated by the cops. If you’re tired of hearing these stories, DO SOMETHING!”
“Amber Ruffin’s Experience with the Police: It’s a New Day”
Following a story of the stark difference between how cops have treated her versus how they treated her white male friend, Ruffin reflects, “For the past ten days, the George Floyd protests were worldwide. Hundreds of thousands of people all over the country, all over the world, saw yet another video of a man being murdered in cold blood and rose up. People all over the world took to the streets because they believe Black people deserve better treatment than we have been getting.”
“And I’m not like ‘oh, everything is over, everything is fixed,’” she continues, “But, ya’ll I am so shocked that so many people showed up for Black people. We’ve been being discriminated against for fun for years and I didn’t think people cared, or saw, or knew and were fine with it. For whatever reason, everyone is fed up. Thank God.”
She goes on to talk about how former president Barack Obama has laid out a plan to curb police brutality right now. Still, she warns, “Don’t forget it cost us not only George Floyd’s life, but the lives of 11 people who have been killed during these protests, including: David McAtee, Dave Patrick Underwood, Chris Beaty, Dorian Murrell, Italia Kelly, Calvin L. Horton Jr, Javar Harrell, Victor Cazares, Sean Monterrosa, David Dorn, and from my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, the brave James Scurlock. Don’t let it cost more lives.”
At this point, Ruffin breaks down. She curses. Tears come from her eyes, as she says, “I don’t want to do [a take] again.” She soldiers on, “Vote. Call your representatives. Unfriend racists. And most importantly, when you see something, SAY SOMETHING. DO SOMETHING. Get loud. Don’t let people get away with racist crap. Not anymore. It’s a new day.”
Header Image Source: Youtube