John Oliver drew a direct correlation between the “manufactured panic” about critical race theory and Rihanna’s highly-publicized pregnancy during the ninth season premiere of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.
“When it comes to critical race theory, think of it like Rihanna’s pregnancy: Even if you think it has nothing to do with you, believe me, you’re going to be hearing a lot about it this year,” Oliver noted.
The late night host explained that critical race theory is “the name given to a body of legal scholarship that began in the 1970s that attempted to understand why racism and inequality existed after the civil rights movement.” Opponents of the theory, of which there are many, have claimed the framework unfairly admonishes white students.
“To be clear, CRT is graduate-level legal theory,” Oliver responded, after showing a clip of leading scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw. “Unless your five-year-old is currently pursuing a law degree, they’re not reading Kimberlé Crenshaw.”
Oliver broke down the right-wing backlash against critical race theory, notably by figures like Ted Cruz and Tucker Carlson. The host threw to a clip of Cruz when the Senator said, “Let me tell you right now: critical race theory is bigoted, it is a lie, and it is every bit as racist as the Klansman in white sheets.”
“I do not like that Ted Cruz man,” Oliver quipped in reply. “I do not like him shouting Klan. I do not like him in a room. I do not like him in Cancun. I do not like him playing ball. I do not like his face at all. I wish he’d lose his cushy job. That man Ted Cruz is a fucking knob.”
Oliver also addressed the banning of books and the refusal by the right to have discussions about race.
“We have talked before on this show about the multiple problems with teaching kids a sanitized version of US history and how, as far back as a century ago, groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy were reshaping textbooks to downplay its horrors,” Oliver said. “And it seems, here we go again. Here’s the thing: you can ban all the books you want. You can try to legislate it away. But, as any black woman on the Bachelor can tell you, talking about race is unavoidable. Not just unavoidable, it’s essential.”
Last Week Tonight, now in its ninth season, airs on HBO and HBO Max Sunday nights.