Top 98 W. Kamau Bell Quotes of 2020

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“I can’t imagine what it must be like to be one of the indigenous people of the United States of America. I can’t imagine watching the news every day – as people debate whose country this is and who should be in charge of it and how to make it great again – and hardly ever see your people brought into the discussion.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“For some people, the definition of who is and who isn’t an American defies logic, historical accuracy, common sense, decency, good manners, the milk of human kindness, enjoyment in the good things in life, and love of good food.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Atheism is like the highest level of white privilege. It’s like having a black belt in white privilege.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I’m happy that I know how to speak ‘Southern.’ I spent a lot of time in Alabama throughout my life. I even lived there for part of junior high and high school, so I learned the true beauty and mastery of the Southern dialect. ‘Y’all’ is one of the greatest and most useful words ever invented.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Puerto Rico is complicated. The people are complicated. The history is complicated. The story of the United States’ relationship to Puerto Rico is complicated.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Most people have the ability to turn their empathy engine back on, but there’s such a seductive burn to not being empathetic.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I am proud to be black man.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“The citizens of Puerto Rico pay taxes with no representation every day, because Puerto Rico is not a state. And the rules only became more confusing the more I looked into them during my time there.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“If we go the direction that many of the leaders of this country want and close the borders and discourage new immigrants, then we are ruining the possibility of new ideas and new experiences.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“To be off the grid is to be disconnected from most of America’s infrastructure without having to cross any border.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“At worst, spring break in Daytona Beach feels feral – like everybody is trying to re-create scenes from the movie ‘The Hangover.’”

― W. Kamau Bell

“There were definitely a few ways I could have gone after ‘Totally Biased’ ended. One of those was getting a job at Starbucks.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“We should always be having a conversation about if we could make this country more inclusive and what we can do to do that.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“You can be as exclusive as you want to in your house, but once you walk outside your house, you have to realize that it’s not your world anymore: it’s all of our world.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“No state income tax, no snow, lots of golf courses, and ready-made gated communities make Florida an irresistible place for seniors – the ones who have the income level – to retire.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“There’s a lot of power in laughter.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Knowing that more people associate Chicago with street violence than generosity is difficult for me because, despite all my proclamations of being from the Bay Area, I have spent much of my life in Chicago. So I have a deep love and a pretty good understanding of the city.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“People live in their part of the Union, and if they don’t travel a lot, then there is a tendency to believe that the other parts of America couldn’t possibly be as American as their part. You can see it in the way people in the South scrunch up their faces when they hear words like ‘New York,’ ‘Chicago,’ and ‘challah.’”

― W. Kamau Bell

“People always want narratives to be clean and easy.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“In the deep corner of my heart, I’m a Chicagoan, but it’s been covered over by 20 years of living in the Bay Area.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I feel like, as a black guy, I can’t not believe in God… I’d wake up in the morning, ‘I’m black, and there’s no God? I’m going back to sleep.’”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I grew up in a household where we talked about race all the time, and that’s sort of in me. So if I become the Anthony Bourdain of race and culture, then great!”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Comedy can be very deep sometimes.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I am a comedian: that means I laugh at things other people don’t laugh at and also annoys my wife sometimes.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Women don’t get the benefits of America the way men do.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“My dad and stepmom live in Mobile, Ala., and spend their vacation time an hour’s drive away in Orange Beach, Ala. This means that, throughout my life, I have regularly vacationed there as well.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Whenever I tell people in Berkeley, Calif., where I live, that I’m headed to the beach in Alabama, they are shocked. Most people outside of the Gulf Coast have no idea that Alabama has beaches – even though if you look at a map of Alabama, there is a part of it that looks as if it should belong to Florida.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“The Olympics are great, but they only truly mean something when the moments that come out of them are bigger than the individual sports.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“The alt-right is the Tea Party’s younger, cooler, meaner brother. Like if the movie ‘Back to The Future’ was just about Biff.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“We all need to make sure that we fully understand our country.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“The alt-right is working hard to cloak its desire to create chaos in the streets as free speech. They say they want to air their views, but it’s about provoking violent reactions. We all can easily see that this is not about free speech.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“People born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens – except for the teeny, tiny, mind-boggling fact that if you live in Puerto Rico, you are not allowed to cast a vote in the election for president. That tiny fact starts to get bigger when you realize that electing our own leaders is the whole reason that we have a country in the first place.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Growing up in the Midwest, Boston, and Alabama, I didn’t know any Puerto Ricans… at least, I didn’t know if I knew any Puerto Ricans. The only Puerto Rican that I had ever even heard of was Juan Epstein, one of the students from the classic 1970s sitcom ‘Welcome Back, Kotter.’”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Chicago is a world-class city filled with amazing people with big ideas.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“One thing that people outside Chicago need to understand is that the city is not just one thing. It is one city, but it is huge and sprawling. And historically, it has been one of America’s most segregated cities.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“The size of the city and the nature of how independent the neighborhoods are means that not only do people who live outside Chicago not know what is going on there, Chicagoans often don’t know what is going on there.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“When we filmed the premiere episode of ‘United Shades of America,’ it was like we were turning over a rock in the woods. The KKK was not part of the national conversation. They were really just a punchline for comedians when you needed to let the audience know something was really, really, really racist.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Even if the KKK isn’t the outsized presence it once was in this country, many of its principles and ideas are alive and well.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“The day-to-day discomforts of prison life, combined with the big-picture realities of mass incarceration, do not add up to a party.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“America, the self-described greatest nation on Earth, has the highest incarceration rate on the planet.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Most prisons in this country are in the middle of nowhere, which makes it much easier for us all to throw those people away. Out of sight, out of mind.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Shouldn’t one of the goals of prison be getting as many of the inmates as possible back out into the world to be responsible citizens? Aren’t we just wasting generations of human potential by keeping over two million people behind bars?”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I only halfway paid attention in high school Spanish class, and it may be too late now to catch up, no matter how many levels of Rosetta Stone I order.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“When Arnold Schwarzenegger was pronouncing it ‘Cal-LEE-fornia,’ he was right – he just didn’t realize he was accidentally speaking Spanish.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“There’s no religion in this country that is more misunderstood, mis-categorized, and misidentified than Islam.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Donald Trump giving a speech on Islam is like me giving a speech titled, ‘The Best Haircuts to Have If You Really Want to Succeed in Corporate America.’ I could do it. But I’d mostly be making it up as I went along.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Since its inception, the government has broken and coerced treaties with hundreds of Native American tribes. And this is even worse when you realize that the native peoples of this land are negotiating for land that is, by all common sense and elementary school logic, their land.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“As a black person in this country, I am always frustrated by the lack of attention my people’s issues get. But at least the news and politicians are talking about not talking about our issues. Native issues are basically ignored.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I’m just another non-native whose mom told him we were part-Cherokee.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“America loses so much of what defines it if you subtract the Chinese influence. I know this because I spent 12 years living in one of America’s most popular tourist destinations: San Francisco. And it would not be one of America’s top tourist destinations without Chinatown.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“The downside to defining everything Chinese as different than American is that all things Chinese then become exotic.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I’ve been to the Bahamas. It’s a beautiful country with truly excellent people. When I took a cruise that docked for a couple hours in Nassau, it mostly reminded me of a giant version of my grandmother’s neighborhood in Mobile, Alabama… but with better accents.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“When we let cops talk about themselves as a separate community, then we are letting cops wall themselves off from the rest of us. We don’t generally do that with any other jobs. We don’t talk about the barista community or the Wal-Mart greeter community.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Cops should not be separate from the black community or any community. Their salaries are paid for by the communities they police. They should be working for the communities they police. But as we saw in Ferguson, Missouri, they are not always doing that.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“In communities of color, such as Ferguson, it often feels like the police are protecting the white community from us instead of protecting our communities from the criminal element.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I want President Obama to want to take your guns away. I don’t trust you with your guns. I don’t trust you to fire them safely. I don’t trust you to store them safely. I don’t trust your kids not to find them. I don’t trust you not to get them stolen.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I have always had a strange relationship to Portland, Oregon. It’s a great city. The people who live there love it openly and loudly, and it regularly appears on the lists of best American cities. But something has always felt weird to me about Portland. And not in the way Portlanders mean ‘weird’ in their slogan ‘Keep Portland weird.’”

― W. Kamau Bell

“The history of Oregon is partially the history of a state that legislated not wanting black people around.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Capitalism doesn’t care about sentimentality.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“The Right doesn’t usually threaten to leave the country. When the Right feels threatened, it just declares it is going to invent a time machine to take the country back so that America can be ‘great again.’”

― W. Kamau Bell

“In most major cities, you can find stores for urban homesteaders. They sell everything you need so that you won’t need anything. Sort of a ‘Take This Civilization and Shove It’ starter kit.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Usually, the news out of Florida makes me feel like being black in Florida can be a terminal condition.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“We really suffer from a hot-take disease, wanting to be the first one who has the hottest take.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“If we’re constantly giving every one of our allies the woke test instead of inviting them to be more woke, we’re doomed. You can be the most woke person of all time and be alone.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“The big thing I learned from Chris Rock was not to be a victim of show business. Don’t let show business push you around.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I was born in the Bay Area because my dad was a semi-professional photographer and poet who was really into John Coltrane. He’s had many lives. My dad’s a capitalist to his bone, but he’s also a human to his bone.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I’ve turned the annoying questions that white people ask into a career, so I understand that’s where I live.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“If you say, ‘I don’t care if Muhammad Ali was a Muslim or not; he was just great,’ what you’re really saying is, ‘I don’t care about Muhammad Ali.’ Same with Prince being black.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I have an upfront, sort of in-the-trenches knowledge of white people’s trying to avoid their whiteness and replace it with something else. When I met my wife, we went through the whole race-slash-ethnicity conversation, and she told me she was Italian. Later on, I find out she’s a quarter Italian, at best.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I never wanted to be in the late-night talk show wars, and I think somehow with ‘Totally Biased,’ I got caught up in all that. Suddenly, there are articles about how we finally have a black voice in late-night.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“We can’t throw the worst part of racism into the dustbin of history.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Over the years, I’d hear Jon Stewart disavow being a journalist and say, ‘No, I’m a comedian.’ I’d be like, ‘Stop pretending. You know you’re a journalist.’”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I keep trying to write the crowd-pleasing slavery joke and the crowd-pleasing reparations joke, but any time you mention slavery or reparations in any detail, it seems to bum lots of people out. That’s a challenge I keep putting in front of myself.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I want to write the reparations joke that makes people go, ‘Yay! I’m so happy!’ It’s easy to go onstage and just make fun of all the ‘isms’ instead, but we can’t all be Jeff Dunham. Although that pays very well… it pays way better to be Jeff Dunham than it ever paid to be George Carlin or Lenny Bruce.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“When I was starting out, I was just bringing a garbage bag of jokes onstage, pulling them out like, ‘What about this? No? Alright.’ I was just trying to be funny about anything.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“The jokes I was always attracted to, and that I would tell for the longest, were jokes where I cared about the subject. Whenever I wrote a joke where I didn’t care, even if it was really funny, the third time I told it, it would lose steam.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“When ‘Totally Biased’ was canceled, I thought my career was over – but apparently it wasn’t.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I’ve always been a fan of these travel shows and documentary series.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Throughout my career and my life, I talk a lot about racism in this country, and if you’re going to talk about it, then you’re going to eventually come to the chapter about the Klan.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“That’s how to make a stand-up comedian: You take a person who is uncomfortable and try to squirrel their way out of it through humor.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I just want to make TV that I want to see.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“As a black man, I actually had naturally sort of comedic curiosity about the Klan.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“If I have any talent, I think I have an ability to listen to people and also just meet them on their level.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“This is a country that was founded on racism. It was built on racism. It still continues to thrive through wealth disparity, and housing disparity is all built on the backs of racism.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“My agenda… is to learn about people.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“You don’t get smarter by not learning stuff.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“As a comedian, you see all parts of the country because you play there.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“No comedian grows up thinking, ‘I hope one day to have a show on CNN.’”

― W. Kamau Bell

“I like living in Berkeley, but I know Berkeley’s not the world.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“People in Hollywood can condescend to the way a lot of other people are living.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“When things aren’t going well for black people, they blame the government. When things aren’t going well for white people, they can’t blame the government because the government is supposed to be for them. So they blame black people.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“The country should be more inclusive, not less inclusive, and over an infinite timeline, it becomes more inclusive. It doesn’t always happen at once.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“As much as some people like to put down ‘political correctness,’ if it wasn’t for political correctness, I wouldn’t be free right now.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“When I stand up in front of groups of people who agree with me, I know I have to really step my game up because I can’t just sort of meet them where they’re at; I have to take them somewhere else. They want you to challenge them and have good ideas.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“If I say ‘political comedian,’ then people think you’re talking about you, the Senate and Congress, and what’s going on in Washington D.C. If I say ‘comedian,’ people automatically assume that you’re a comedian who talks about how his wife won’t listen to him and that dummy down at the mechanic who wouldn’t fix his car.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“If you’re on TV regularly, doing a thing regularly, whether you’re Anthony Anderson on ‘Black-ish’ or Don Lemon, an hour a night, you have to turn into, ‘What’s the delivery system through which I can deliver information?’ I don’t mean they are being fake or that they are doing something that’s disingenuous.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“What has happened is we’ve allowed the people who run policies in this country to sort of make us pick Left and the Right as if those are the only two choices.”

― W. Kamau Bell

“Stand-up comedians know how to walk into a room, even if you’re not performing, just read the temperature of a room, and can easily sort of tell what’s going on or what people are sort of feeling in the room, and it allows you to sort of approach people.”

― W. Kamau Bell
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