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Aziz Ansari On The Late Show: “There Are A Lot of White Guys Back There”

Aziz Ansari has been making the rounds lately, talking about his excellent new Netflix series Master of None and calling out casting directors who ask him to to “do an Indian accent.” In his latest appearance talking about his projects on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Ansari took the opportunity to point out systemic racism while also making a clever joke or two. Stephen Colbert doesn’t respond by changing the topic or deflecting responsibility, either — instead, he lets Ansari share his thoughts in full before moving on from the topic. Colbert also asked Ansari if interviewing marginalized creators on The Late Show “counted” at all, and Ansari said yes — although it doesn’t fix the deeper systemic problem.

Ansari soon found a way to work in an example of structural racism. At the end of the video above, the pair makes a joke about randomly firing one of Colbert’s staffers — then, the two shared a sardonic laugh about how likely it would be that the staffer would be a white guy. “There are a lot of white guys back there,” Ansari said, gesturing to the backstage area, to which Colbert could only nod in assent, admitting: “Yeah. Yeah, there are.”

Per usual with YouTube, a lot of the commenters have begun arguing about “meritocracy” when it comes to TV shows and appearances. Because, see, the best and most talented people always succeed and get repaid for their hard work — and those people just so happen to be white guys. No one seems to understand that this argument is, essentially, arguing that white guys are naturally superior at all things.

In reality, though, the playing field isn’t level — and it’s nice to see Aziz Ansari discussing that openly, while also finding ways to joke about the problem in an accessible way.

(via Buzzfeed)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).