Apparently, Stephen Colbert loves asking cast members of the TV show Black-ish what such a bizarre, incomprehensible word could mean. He’s heard “black” before, and the colloquial add-on “ish,” but combined? Luckily for him, Tracee Ellis Ross has both patience and the desire to promote her show.
Colbert is so often completely confident in himself and how far he can go with his current “mischievous dad” persona, that it’s fun to occasionally see him look flustered. On Thursday night’s episode of The Late Show, he asked Ellis Ross once more what “black-ish” means, and she gave the clear answer that it’s a word referring to the complicated and varied experiences of black people today. He followed up:
Can everyone be black-ish? Because I’m definitely not black, does anyone have a shot at being black-ish? Could I be black...ish? Could I have a shot at being black-ish?
Instead of tapping him gently on the forehead until he shut up, Ellis Ross replied, “To a certain extent you missed the point by asking that question, however, I understand that within that question is your desire to be black.”
Stephen then said, “To understand each other, is what my desire is. Because I’m white—”
“And I’m half-white,” she said, and from there he tried to get away from the convo by talking about Ellis Ross’s international upbringing. You can almost see him thinking, MUST CHANGE SUBJECT. She brings it back like a champ, interrupting to say:
You know, I think the thing is though, that I believe in a colorful world. So it’s not really about you needing to be something other than you are. It’s actually about two people celebrating what they are, and finding the connection in that, and the human experience [cut off by applause].
They shook hands and went on to talk about high heels and hopefully Stephen Colbert doesn’t need anyone else to walk him through this again.