Amber Ruffin’s “Minute of Fury” Against Roseanne and White People Calling the Cops Is Spectacular
Amber Ruffin’s “Minute of Fury” on Late Night with Seth Meyers was so great that I wish it had lasted the entire one hour (although Kate McKinnon’s iguana story is not to be missed.) In the segment, Ruffin takes on a recent episode of Roseanne to then talk about the string of white people who won’t stop calling the cops on black people just trying to live their lives.
Roseanne in question, where Roseanne suspects that her Muslim neighbors are terrorists but decides they’re fine after they give her their wi-fi password. One of the “bajillion reasons” this episode is awful, Ruffin says, is that “she didn’t like these people until they proved to her that they were ‘one of the good ones’ by giving her their wi-fi password. So, what would have happened in this episode if they had been mean to her? As was their right to do? She’d have called the cops and they’d have gone to jail! That’s what the f*ck what.”
The idea of the “good immigrant” is an undercurrent of the Roseanne episode, and the notion that in order to be accepted, you must be actively contributing and adding value to the country in a culturally-endorsed way. It also, however, points to the ways in which white Americans demand a certain kind of politeness, attitude, and even subservience from people of color despite never offering any kind of civility themselves. “The minorities had to prove themselves to her,” says Ruffin, “that’s a dangerous mentality and it isn’t limited to Roseanne.”
The Late Night writer points to a number of recent incidents: the two black men at the Philadelphia Starbucks, the Yale student napping in her common room, the black Airbnb guests who didn’t wave, and the Native American teens on a campus tour. White people called the police on them because they perceived completely innocent individuals as threatening and they believed they didn’t belong (which speaks volumes about how they view people of color simply occupying space). It speaks to an entitlement, as well as an implicit belief that people of color should always behave to their standards: polite, gracious, and grateful.
As Ruffin says, “If you want to get rid of people who don’t belong, get your pasty-ass back on the Mayflower and goooooo hoooome.”
“White people call the police when we’re not polite, but politeness is not the rent we pay to live in this country. Slavery was, and we paid that in full. [Pretends to pick up phone] Oh, hello? That was too far? Oh, not far enough? Ok, I got more. It is asking too much of black people to live under all of this impression and also make you feel comfortable! The idea that people of color need to be told how to act by white people is becoming more pervasive in our society.”
“It’s a gross attitude that exists right now!” exclaims Ruffin as she lists more examples, “and I can’t figure out why! I can’t put my finger on it.” Just kidding, we all know why—an image of Donald Trump comes up.
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