Stephen Colbert is my hero!
On last night’s broadcast, a repeat from June 16, Colbert did the kind of thing that I almost never rely on white media figures to do. He was interviewing Kenneth Miller, who wrote a book about how the proponents of “intelligent design” are trying to teach creationism at schools. At one point, Miller compared creationists to women who fraudulently collect welfare checks, saying they’re asking for a government handout, “I would compare them to welfare queens,” he said.
It wasn’t an off-the-cuff remark. MIller had clearly thought this through and found something clever in comparing white male creationists to black women who obviously arouse Americans’ disgust. As I was getting mad (not such a good thing right before bed) and wishing I was on the set to take Miller down, Colbert did it for me. “So you agree with me,” he said to Miller with a smirk, “that there are welfare queens driving Cadillacs waiting for their government cheese. Thank you for coming along with me and Ronald Reagan.” Reagan, of course, was the one who cemented the code of the welfare queen with ads featuring Black women in fur coats and big cars during the 1980 election cycle. Thanks to Colbert for setting a good example by punishing this racist analogy. If more white people did the same, I could sleep well every night.
Let’s write, call, and email MIller and tell him to stop perpetuating racist stereotypes!
Kenneth R. Miller
Professor of Biology
Royce Family Professor for Teaching Excellence
Providence, Rhode Island 02912
Office: Sidney Frank Hall 211
Laboratory: Biomedical Center 273