John Oliver applauded the NBA and WNBA players’ decision to strike last week in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake — an unarmed Black man who was shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis. — on Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight,” calling it an “unprecedented and genuinely inspiring show of collective action” in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
What he certainly did not applaud was Jared Kushner’s “infuriating” reaction to the protest.
“And they did this without union approval, so they were putting a lot on the line here, their income and maybe even their careers, which is what makes it so infuriating that when Jared Kushner was asked for his response to the strike, this is what fell out of his mouth,” Oliver said, before rolling a clip of Donald Trump’s son-in-law giving his thoughts on the strike.
“Look, I think that the NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they are able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially,” Kushner said in the video. “So they have that luxury, which is great.”
“OK, first, get f—ed, Jared, you ‘Welcome to Marwen’ reject,” Oliver said. “‘Cause for a start, they’re not taking a night off from work. The emotional toll of being Black in America combined with the pressure to perform at an elite level during a global pandemic is, I’m guessing, pretty taxing. So by not playing, they’re not exactly taking a spa day. And if NBA players are too rich to take meaningful action, then who exactly is in the right tax bracket to have their protest approved by America’s most-laminated prince. We’ve seen time and time again that wealth and fame absolutely do not protect you as a Black athlete.”
He added: “It didn’t protect Sterling Brown from getting tased by the police after being stopped for a parking violation in Milwaukee. And it didn’t protect Thabo Sefolosha from having his leg broken by NYPD officers in an incident that forced him to miss the 2015 playoffs and put his whole career in jeopardy. And, you might want to strap in Jared, because this probably isn’t the last disruptive action we’re going to see going forward — nor should it be, because people are sick of waiting.”
Oliver says the problem with “purely symbolic protests” is they are “far too easy to co-opt.”
“Is it any wonder that basketball players felt they had to escalate their protests by not just wearing a jersey, but by striking, and in doing so, putting team owners’ money at jeopardy because real discomfort is the only thing that’s going to bring about real change here.”
Watch the clip above.