Jay Smooth is a renowned cultural commentator whose nuanced perspectives on race are always appreciated. He’s also a light-skinned Black guy. This caused supreme awkwardness when Nancy Giles from CBS Sunday Morning, a Black woman, mistook him for a white guy, on national television.
Last night on All In With Chris Hayes, Giles and Smooth were guests and the topic, thanks to Starbucks, was “discussing race.” During their chit-chat Giles pretty much accused Jay Smooth of “talking Black” when one of his trademark video rants—“How to Tell Someone They Sound Racist”—was played back for reference.
“I can’t not tease Jay about the kinda like ‘brotha’ way he was kind of talking, like, ‘Hey,’ with the rap music in the background, and like down with the people,” said Giles.
This is where we mention that Jay Smooth was born John Randolph and is bi-racial (his father is Black, mother is white).
Jay tried to help her out, saying “I’m a rap guy.”
But Giles kept going, animatedly using her hands while saying Jay was “co-opting” Black culture.
She continued, “Yeah, I know, but it’s another interesting, funny thing about race. Like, there would be some people that would feel that you co-opted something like that, and other people might feel like that’s his background and that’s really cool, too. These are conversations, you know, ‘Yo, like ya know, yeah, if somebody takes my wallet,’ I mean it’s really interesting.”
To this, Jay Smooth responded perfectly.
“It’s also interesting because I’m actually Black, but you assumed otherwise,” he said. “And this is the sort of awkwardness that we can look forward to at Starbucks across America.”
Also hilarious is how Chris Hayes spotted the jig (He’s heard sarcastically asking “What are you co-opting Jay?”) and waited for Giles to dig her hole ever so deeper.
Watch the awkwardness go down in the clip below. Full segment on the flip.