- Views white people as inherently racist
- Was honored by the ACLU as a celebrity ambassador for racial justice in 2013
- Strong supporter of BLM and Antifa
- Stated that the Islamic faith has been woven into the fabric of American culture since time immemorial
Born on January 26, 1973, Walter Kamau Bell graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and subsequently attended the University of Pennsylvania for a brief period. Today he is best known as W. Kamau Bell, a “socio-political comic” and television host.
In 2009 Bell was a founding member of “Laughter Against the Machine,” a comedy collective that “roams the country bringing humor to the people who need it the most.”
From 2010-14, Bell and guitarist Vernon Reid co-hosted the podcast The Field Negro Guide to Arts & Culture.
In 2012-13, Bell hosted the FXX television series Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, which presented social and political commentary infused with humor.
In August 2012, Bell characterized the conservative Tea Party movement as a racist phenomenon. “I don’t need the Tea Party to be 100 percent racist for me to feel perfectly fine calling them racist,” he said. “It could be way less than 100 percent. Ten percent is fine with me.” Drawing an analogy to a milkshake made of “10 percent shit,” Bell stated: “Ten percent’s kind of a lot!”
In the summer of 2013, Bell said that white people, because they themselves are inherently racist, are unqualified to speak about racism: “The worst thing [for a white person] to say to a person of color is, ‘I don’t think that’s racist.’ I don’t think that’s your area. You can have an opinion but I don’t think you are the final word. That’s what’s missing, white people. You’ve got a lot of jobs but should not have the ‘I know what’s racist’ job. ‘I know what’s imperialism’ – that’s your job.”
Since November 2014, Bell and comedian Kevin Avery have co-hosted the weekly podcast Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period, which reviews all of Washington’s movies and has aired interviews with prominent actors, musicians, comedians, and filmmakers (including Spike Lee).
In an August 2015 appearance on Don Lemon’s CNN program, Bell was shown visiting the Iowa State Fair. Noting that he was one of the very few black people in attendance, Bell said: “[T]here were seven, I was told. Everybody said there were seven black people in Iowa. We just weren’t allowed to hang out together. Apparently, there’s an ordinance against that.” Bell also said that in the livestock section of the fair, he had seen “Ku Klux lambs.” And, characterizing President Donald Trump as “the Kanye West of Iowa,” Bell signed off with a “miniature black power fist.”
In December 2015, Bell said: “White people, you’ve created race, and then off of race, off the back of race, you created racism.” Thus, he expanded, “It’s your job to handle [Republican presidential candidate] Donald Trump,” a man who represented “the pinnacle of white privilege and white supremacy meeting in one place.”
Since January 2016, Bell has hosted Kamau Right Now, a live radio program and podcast that examines the political and cultural issues of the day.
In March 2016, Bell smeared the Republican Party as a thoroughly racist entity, saying: “If the Republican Party is a gumbo … the roux of that gumbo is white supremacy, and the core of that is the Ku Klux Klan.”
Since April 24, 2016, Bell has hosted the CNN documentary series United Shades of America, which explores how various “communities” across the United States are routinely confronted by racism and other serious “challenges.”
Since June 2016, Bell and comic Hari Kondabolu have co-hosted the podcast Politically Re-Active, which takes a comedic approach to helping people “survive in the age of [President Donald] Trump” and “be an active part of the resistance.”
In August 2016, Bell wrote an open letter to the legendary Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, urging him to relinquish the honor of carrying the U.S. flag at the upcoming Olympics Opening Ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, and to allow Ibtihaj Muhammad, a Muslim member of the U.S. women’s fencing team, to carry the flag instead. “It would be a symbol for our country,” said Bell, “in this moment when we are mostly known for one of the most contentious, controversial, scandal-ridden, hateful, xenophobic, jingoistic, and just generally unlikable presidential elections in recent memory.” “Muhammad carrying the flag would be nearly a one-stop inclusion shop,” Bell added, noting that the fencer was “an African-American” as well as a “hijab-wearing Muslim woman,” meaning that she belonged to multiple “groups that could always use some more love, acceptance, and respect from this country” – a nation that already “has enough tall, successful, rich white guys hogging the spotlight trying to make America great … again.” Notably, Miss Muhammad’s recent Twitter posts showed her to be a committed anti-Semite who viewed Israel as a “terrorist state” that practiced “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing.” She was also a devoted supporter of Black Lives Matter.
During a January 2017 speaking engagement at the University of Pittsburgh, Bell said: “Until we get black lives to matter we can’t get all lives to matter. White Lives Matter didn’t even exist before Black Lives Matter. Not even the Beatles said all lives matter.”
In a May 2017 episode of United Shades of America, Bell tried to advance the notion that the Islamic faith has been woven into the fabric of American culture since time immemorial. “America has always had heroes who were Muslims,” he said, citing Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Malcolm X. Bell also praised Louis Farrakhan, the notoriously anti-Semitic, racist leader of the Nation of Islam.
In July 2017, Bell said that “President Trump is in office because he appealed to some of the basic fears of Americans” during the 2016 campaign. “[W]hen you start to sell the fear,” Bell continued, “you forget the fact, you’re like, wait a minute, I actually do like my neighbors. I do like the undocumented Latino family across the street. They’re very nice. They’ve very helpful.”
On August 27, 2017, Bell spoke at a so-called “No Hate In The Bay” rally in Berkeley, California, where members of the Marxist/anarchist Antifa movement engaged in brutal violence against Donald Trump supporters whom they depicted as “fascists” and white supremacists. When Antifa chased away the pro-Trump people, Bell took a bullhorn and shouted, “Bye Nazis! Bye!” He subsequently stated, “[W]hen the Nazis leave, as they have left … you have to stand up for the brown people, the black people, the LGBT people, the immigrants–everybody everyday!”
In a July 17, 2020 appearance on CNN’s New Day, Bell said the following about the concept of white supremacy:
“I think a lot of people believe … white supremacy is just when a white person doesn’t like a black person, but that’s just prejudice. In America, white supremacy is a system that promotes whiteness — and white maleness specifically, and white Christian maleness specifically — over everyone else. And so, we really want to talk about like it’s blockbusting, it’s red-lining, but it’s also just people who feel like they have no response [responsibility] for racism in this country because they never personally owned slaves…. [There are] multiple levels of white supremacy … [I]t’s not just a feeling — it’s actually a measurable force in America.”
In a May 17, 2021 op-ed on CNN.com, Bell reiterated his support for Antifa’s brand of terrorism, writing: “And until power accepts demands worded like, ‘Please give us justice!’ or, ‘If you wouldn’t mind not oppressing us, we’d sure appreciate it,’ then protesting in ways that are loud, inconvenient, messy, damaging, and often beautiful is how Americans who believe in justice and joy will get those in power to act right.” “We could avoid all this if we just lived up to our ideals,” Bell added. “But until then, I’ll see you in those streets.”
Bell sits on the advisory board of Race Forward, a think tank that “brings systemic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people … dismantle structural racial inequity and create equitable outcomes for all.” He also sits on the advisory board of Hollaback!, an organization whose mission is to protect “women, LGBTQ+ individuals, people of color, and people with disabilities” from “harassment.”
Further Reading: “W. Kamau Bell Biography” (Articlebio.com, 6-20-2018).