CBS Commentator Assumed Jay Smooth Was Co-Opting Blackness Until He Said, �I�m Black�

Tuesday night, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes tackled the subject of Starbucks’ #RaceTogether campaign on his show All in With Chris Hayes. The panel discussion included CBS Sunday Morning’s Nancy Giles and culture commentator and DJ Jay Smooth. Smooth is known for his talks on race and his in-depth knowledge of hip-hop and culture.

If you’re not familiar with Smooth, a good place to start is watching his video “On Don Lemon, Race & ‘Respectability’”:

During last night’s segment on Starbucks’ failed campaign, Giles started to make fun of how she assumed Smooth was co-opting blackness because of the way he talked and the music he listens to.

“I can’t not tease Jay about the kinda like brotha way he was trying to talk, like, ‘Hey,’ with the rap music in the background, and, like, down with the people,” Giles said.

I can’t even imagine what was going through Smooth’s head while she was talking. But he did let her know that he is definitely a rap guy.

But Giles didn’t stop there. She just kept on inserting her foot into her mouth based on her own assumptions, and teased Smooth about trying to act black.

“Yeah, I know, but it’s another interesting, funny thing about race. Like, there would be some people that would feel that you co-opted something like that, and other people might feel like that’s his background and that’s really cool, too,” Giles said. “These are conversations, you know, ‘Yo, like, ya know, yeah, if somebody takes my wallet,’ I mean, it’s really interesting.”

And if there was ever a time to insert a “Well, that was awkward” gif, right now would have been that moment.

“It’s also interesting because I’m actually black, but you assumed otherwise,” Smooth said.

This is the exact awkwardness that many people were trying to prove when they rallied against #RaceTogether on Twitter. Imagine if Smooth was having a #RaceTogether convo with a white barista at Starbucks, and the barista has no idea he’s black and goes on a rant about “those black people.” That would definitely make for another awkward moment, when all you were trying to do was get your macchiato.