‘Late Late Show’s James Corden Offers Uplifting Message; Bandleader Reggie Watts Breaks Down While Sharing Story Of Facing Racism

Erik Pedersen

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James Corden used a large portion of his homebound Late Late Show tonight to offer a message of hope amid the civil unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police last week. But the clip got personal when he switched to bandleader Reggie Watts. Watch it below.

Speaking via monitor, the biracial Watts began to talk about the racism he endured as a child, even though his mother was his staunch protector against it. When Corden asked how he’s doing, Watts replied: “I don’t know. Feeling so much simultaneously. It’s crazy.”

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After a while, Watts shared a story about his father growing up in the Midwest, going to Vietnam then returning and not being able to find a job “because he was black. The economy wasn’t doing that well, and he had to re-enlist and got sent back to Vietnam.” He added that when his parents got married, “their marriage wasn’t recognized in the U.S. because of laws prohibiting interracial marriage.”

After noting that his cousin Alice Walker tapped her experiences in her book The Color Purple, Watts continued: “I have this history in the black community in the Midwest that I don’t access a lot because there’s a lot of pain and emotion there, you know.”

He then began sobbing. “It’s hard,” he says, with some difficulty. “There’s so much happening.”

Corden was visibly moved, and began sobbing himself.

Earlier in the monologue. Corden said: “I’ve been struggling all weekend wondering what to say to you here tonight. Because who needs my opinion? Why is my voice relevant? There is not one person in the world who woke up this morning and thought – I need to know what James Corden thinks about all of this. Surely this is a time for me to listen not talk. And then I realized that that’s part of the problem. People like me have to speak up. To be clear, I’m not talking about late night hosts or people who are fortunate, like I am, to have a platform. I’m talking about white people. White people cannot just say anymore – yeah I am not racist and think that that’s enough, because it’s not. It’s not enough. Because make no mistake this is our problem to solve. How can the black community dismantle a problem that they didn’t create?”

He added later: “And all of this is happening while we are still experiencing the horrors of this pandemic. A pandemic which saw more black and brown people suffer from the disease, yet have less access to healthcare that they needed. And remember it’s those same people, who make up a higher percentage of the essential workers helping all of us during this health crisis… So they help society more, but they get helped less. We shouldn’t be just trying to understand the rage. We should feel the rage.”

Watch the segment below. Watts’ comments start at the 5:29 mark.

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