Lil Rel Howery passionately took on police shootings and budgets, the recent NBA and WNBA protests, and a discrepancy in treatment between America’s white and Black teens during his guest hosting stint on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
“I mean look, either I was gonna do this, or go on my Instagram Live,” Howery said of his nearly nine-minute opening monologue on Thursday night. “I was gonna talk about this either way.”
In a segment that covered a wide range of timely racial justice and political subjects, the actor-comedian mixed light humor with serious calls to examine double standards surrounding deadly interactions between police officers and protesters. Howery began by addressing the Republican National Convention appearance of Covington Catholic high school graduate Nicholas Sandmann, whose high-profile confrontation with Indigenous activist Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial in 2019 made headlines.
“This teenager who said he didn’t do anything and didn’t mean any malice about what he was doing got a chance to tell his side of the story. He was complaining about being canceled and nobody would listen to him, the media picked on him,” Howery said. “And it made me think, right? I thought about all the teenagers that didn’t get a chance to tell their side of any story. I can name a couple Black teenagers who I would love to hear their side of the story — one, in particular, Trayvon Martin.”
As a comedic actor, Howery noted that he’s personally found little to laugh about recently, and is “more tired and annoyed most of the time” with what’s going on in the country, before shouting out the NBA and WNBA player protests from earlier this week. The guest host applauded the professional athletes for channeling their own emotions into their platform “to stand up for social injustice.”
“I am proud of them. They boycotted, they didn’t play for the last few days. I think that’s super dope,” Howery said. “They don’t care about their paychecks. They don’t care about the entertainment part of it. They know what’s wrong is wrong, and they’re standing up for that.”
Howery pivoted to tackling the source of those protests — the Aug. 23 police shooting of 29-year-old Black man and father, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. After describing Blake’s shooting, which took place “in broad daylight, in front of his community and in front of his babies,” Howery somberly acknowledged that while Blake wasn’t killed, he was now paralyzed. Howery then launched into recounting how a white Illinois teen “drove from Illinois to Wisconsin with a gun and decided that he wanted to take matters in his own hands.” The actor was referencing Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old white teen who has now been charged with the murder of two people after shooting into crowds during an Aug. 26 protest in Kenosha.
“He got up, with a full-blown gun on him, with people yelling at the police, ‘Hey, that guy just shot some people,’ with his hands up like this [and] walked right past the police. Wasn’t touched. Wasn’t stopped. Wasn’t yelled at — any of that,” Howery explained. “And the day before, an unarmed man who was breaking up a fight, mind you that, was shot seven times in the back in front of his children.”
That stark comparison, Howery said, helped bring him to his biggest point. After pointing out that “a lot of people get mad at a lot of us for having said please defund the police,” the guest host stated that the billions that go to law enforcement “can go somewhere else, especially if you’re not going to use the funding to protect or do your job properly.” He then criticized city and state officials who support those police budgets while other city services like public education often go underfunded. Howery got personal as he shared how coming from a family of educators, including his aunt Rhoda Jean Hatch who passed away from COVID-19 in April, meant he understood the fight over funding first hand.
“[Teachers] will strike, they will march, they will protest to try to get more funding for schools, and all these city and state officials be like, ‘Wait-wait, what money? We ain’t got no money? Where we gonna get the money from? We don’t have no money,’ when they’ve been giving all the police billions of dollars to not do their job correctly,” Howery declared.
Watch the segment below.