Watch Late Night writer Amber Ruffin recall repeated experiences with police racism
Driving on the freeway listening to Busta Rhymes. Skipping down an alley. Returning a friend's wallet on her own porch.
These are the three scenarios (so far) shared by Late Night with Seth Meyers writer Amber Ruffin that led to her being harassed by a police officer. As protests continue to sweep the country in the wake of George Floyd's killing by a white policeman, Meyers has dedicated the opening segments of this week's shows to Ruffin's stories of her harrowing encounters with police.
"I have a thousand stories like this. The cops have pulled a gun on me, the cops have followed me to my own home," Ruffin, a black woman, says in the first video, which you can watch above. "And every black person I know has a few stories like that. Many have more than a few. Black people leave the house every day knowing that, at any time, we could get murdered by the police."
"I wanted to end this with something hopeful to provide some comfort, but maybe it's time to get uncomfortable," she adds.
In all three stories, Ruffin describes scenarios in which an innocuous action — again, driving on the freeway, skipping through an alley, and handing a wallet to another person — led to a "run-in" with an aggressive white police officer. ("Isn't it hilarious that when people say 'run-ins with the cops,' they mean they got caught doing something, but when I say it, I just mean, being a person that they bother?" Ruffin notes wryly.) Each time, she says, she was sure that she would be killed.
"Now imagine a bunch of incidents like that over one lifetime," Ruffin says at the end of her second story. "Multiply that by 43 million African Americans, and that is why things are like this right now. That is why people are angry. And if you're not angry...why not?"
To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to ending police brutality in America through research-based strategies.
- Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
- Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.