Comedian W. Kamau Bell Hung Out With the Ku Klux Klan. Here’s Why.

“I was more curious than I was afraid until I got there.”


Comedian W. Kamau Bell isn’t afraid of being uncomfortable. So for the first episode of his new CNN show, United Shades of America, Bell took a trip to Arkansas—to meet with the Ku Klux Klan.

The docuseries, which premiered Sunday night, follows the self-described sociopolitical comedian’s adventures into unexpected places—from a gated retirement community in Florida to California’s notorious San Quentin prison—and is in some ways reminiscent of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Except, as the comedian told Fresh Air host Terry Gross on April 14, “Instead of sampling the food, I would sample the racism or the culture.” 

“My curiosity led my fear,” Bell told Gross. “I was more curious than I was afraid until I got there, and then the fear was like, ‘Hello, why don’t I come in?’ The fear sort of crept in.” You can check out the rest of Bell’s Fresh Air interview here, and watch a clip from the show above.

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  • Edwin Rios

    Edwin Rios is a reporter at Mother Jones. Reach him at erios@motherjones.com.