When Van Jones joined Ellen DeGeneres as a guest on her daytime talk show Friday, she told him she has “been wanting to address” the issue of police shooting unarmed black men and felt the CNN host was “the perfect person” to talk to about it.
“There have been so many African-American men who have been shot by police and nothing seems to change,” DeGeneres said. “I can hardly talk about it without getting emotional. I’m furious. As a white person, I’m ashamed. I see what’s going on and I think how is this possible that this keeps happening? There’s just blatant racism. And it hurts me, it really hurts me.”
DeGeneres continued to be on the verge of tears as she recounted recent incidents in which black teenagers have been shot for seemingly no reason. “How is this happening?” she wanted to know.
As the father of two young boys, Jones said this is something he worries about “every single day.” He told her, “It’s not just the police. We’ve got some malware glitch going on in our brains.”
“We’ve got this brain glitch that says, if a white kid [does something bad], eh, maybe they need a little help,” he continued. “If a black kid does, we’ve got to punish them.”
In response, DeGeneres said, “I want to say it’s not in my brain. I don’t believe that, I don’t think that, I don’t see myself in that way at all. And it makes my angry.”
Later, Jones asked the host to consider a hypothetical. “Can you imagine, as a white parent, if every week you turned on the television and a black officer had shot an unarmed white kid?” he asked. “Every week. Week after week after week. By the end of the year, how upset would you be? How completely out of your mind would you be? That’s what’s going on right now in black America.”
He said this should be “everybody’s problem,” telling DeGeneres, “You’re as hurt as my wife is. And that touches me because we should care about everybody’s kids. And I think if people felt like, ‘This could happen my child,’ it would change tomorrow.”