On Tuesday night, Trevor Noah addressed the Democrats’ kente cloth fiasco as only he could.
“While the movement in the streets has been building up steam, Democrats in Washington have been scrambling for a way to respond. And yesterday, I think they’ve figured it out,” offered Noah.
The Daily Show host then threw to footage of the Senate Democrats kneeling in the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in honor of George Floyd—while inexplicably donning African kente cloths, even though Floyd is an American. The move was widely ridiculed on social media, with The Roots’ Questlove pointing to how this type of move was parodied on the IFC show Sherman’s Showcase, and Jordan Peele comparing it to Get Out.
“OK, I understand the symbolic gesture of kneeling to remember George Floyd. What I don’t understand is why they had to dress like extras from Coming to America 2. In fact, a lot of people were confused about why the Democrats wore an African cloth to talk about George Floyd and police brutality. It felt like they were trying too hard,” said Noah.
The New Yorker’s Doreen St. Felix said it best: “It signalled Afrocentricity, yes, but also, more crucially for Democratic leaders, a political consensus. This myth of the black monolith is essential to the tenets of the modern Democratic Party. Internal divisions within the race are not tolerated; they must be drowned out with bright colors. That is why we so often refer to a bloc called the ‘black community.’”
While Noah also found it ridiculous, he was a tad more charitable. “But I’m gonna be honest: I was just glad they were able to talk Nancy Pelosi down from the original outfit she had planned,” he said, throwing to a shot of Pelosi in traditional African neck rings. “That was a step too far.”
“And look,” he continued, “however much you want to blame Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats for doing this, we also have to assign some of the blame to the African storeowner who knew full well that no good can come from one person buying 50 kente cloths.”