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The Lesson We Can Learn About Race (and Life) from Tracy Morgan and His Father

FILE - In this March 29, 2018, file photo, Tracy Morgan attends the premiere of "The Last O.G." at The William Vale in New York. TBS' new comedy stars Morgan a Tray, just out of prison and learning his way around a changed world. The show also serves up a lesson in comedy chemistry. Morgan has it with "Girls Trip" star Tiffany Haddish, who plays the ex-girlfriend who's built a successful new life during his 15 years away. "The Last O.G." debuts 10:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 3. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File)

 

One of the rare joys I’ve discovered during this time period of the Chinese coronavirus has been watching the extended-length interviews with comedians – recorded remotely and uninterrupted by a crowd – by late night talk show host Conan O’Brien, whose show now lives on TBS. They’re easy enough to find on YouTube. And one of my favorite ones, probably the most hysterically-funny one, was with former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and “30 Rock” actor Tracy Morgan.

Watching those hilarious videos led me to search for other interviews with Morgan, whom you may know nearly passed away in 2014, after a commercial truck driver crashed into the limo van he and six others were riding home in after a comedy gig. James McNair, the comedian’s mentor, died in the crash, and Morgan, who was seriously injured, had to relearn how to walk and speak.

In my search, what I found was a 34-minute, 2018 interview on “You Up with Nikki Glaser,” a comedy podcast on Sirius/XM station, Comedy Central Radio.  Since it’s not on terrestrial radio, of course, the host and guest felt free to use rather salty language throughout, so I couldn’t post it here. Feel free to check it out yourself.


Because, I’ll tell you, the longer I listened to the interview, the more I related to Morgan — the fact that we’re close in age, both have fathers who passed away in their 60s, along with the fact that they fought during the Vietnam War. And packed into the wide-ranging interview are a couple insights into life that couldn’t be more relevant right now, in the wake of recent, racist comments by Nick Cannon and others in the entertainment industry.

Morgan shared the important lesson on race his father taught him:

“My father went to Vietnam. And he taught me that racism and prejudice are just garbage. Because in the foxhole, everybody died. Bullets didn’t have no color. He taught me that as a child. So, I never had any inferiority complex. I excelled on ‘Saturday Night Live’ — the whitest thing on tv. So, I’m not afraid. I love you. That’s what it’s all about.”

He also added some wisdom he’s picked up on his own about people:

“When you gravitate to someone, and all of the sudden, there’s that chemistry – male or female, it doesn’t matter – you can’t be like, ‘Why, why?’ No! You gotta know why. Probably, in [your] last life, we was man and wife. Maybe you was brothers, maybe you was cousins. Maybe I was your favorite cousin, Nikki, and your mother told you, “Nikki, your cousin’s coming over to the family barbecue.” “Who Tray? Yeah!” ‘Cause you know it’s fun. We’re going to play video games. I’ll probably beat somebody’s a** on the basketball court, if someone says something. “What did you say to my cousin?! You said something nasty to my cousin?” And it was all poppin’. That’s how it is. I transcend color. I don’t care about it. I never did.”

My RedState colleague Sister Toldjah wrote in her own piece this morning about the importance of reconnecting with the “little things” in life right now, when the world can feel like it’s falling on top of us. I’m thankful that there are people like Tracy Morgan out there who speak about about what’s important – and what’s really not.

To keep this piece close to rated-PG, here’s one of those late night interviews I mentioned up top, Tracy Morgan giving host Conan O’Brien’s viewers “safety tips” for the coronavirus,  from early April:

Note: the interview below is NSFW (contains adult language).