Host John Oliver and the staff of Last Week Tonight really didn't want to discuss the American election this week. Instead, they had hoped to talk about literally anything else before launching into their main segment, which focused on school segregation. Oliver even teased a story about Iceland's election, where a party of pirates was running. There were even going to be eye patch jokes! Of course, the FBI's revelation on Friday throw a bit of a wrench into their plans.
On Friday, the FBI announced that they had renewed their investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. With the election a little over a week away, the announcement wasn't exactly what this election needed. Oliver accurately called it a "shitty development in a shitty campaign season", giving Bacardi a new marketing idea.
"Bacardi may as well change their slogan to 'Bacardi: Because There Might Be More Fucking Clinton Emails'"
The emails came up during another FBI email investigation -- this one into emails sent by former congressman and famous penis-owner Anthony Weiner. Weiner, who once dubbed himself "Carlos Danger", has been the centre of controversy for quite some time. A few years ago, while Oliver was guest-hosting The Daily Show for Jon Stewart, Weiner found himself at the centre of the second sexting scandal of his political career. More recently, he has been accused of sexting with a 15-year old girl, resulting in the FBI's investigation.
While we may all be tired of hearing about Hillary Clinton's emails, Donald Trump's latest racist/sexist/xenophobic/asshole move, and the election in general, I for one will never tire of Oliver's "Carlos Danger" dance. Even if Weiner is "ruining [his] dance" by making it purely reflexive at this point.
The main segment dove into the topic of school segregation. Recent studies have shown that school segregation is actually on the rise, with segregation occurring along race and class lines. And, in a shocking twist, New York State is the most segregated state, while those in the south (including Texas and Florida) are the least.
"Oh shit, liberal white New Yorkers; twist ending -- you were racist the whole time!"
In addition to being a clear violation of Brown v. Board of Education, school segregation almost always means that the quality of education received by Black and Latino students is poor. These students are "more likely to attend schools with high concentrations of inexperienced teachers, and that are less likely to offer a college-prep curriculum". These schools also often have fewer resources. All of these factors negatively impact the type and quality of education received by those students.
When white students are transferred to primarily Black or Latino schools, funding follows them "to an almost comical extent". Facilities tend to be upgraded almost overnight, and resources flow into the schools. Unfortunately, thanks to lawsuits and weakened legislation, resegregation is becoming increasingly common. Lately, it seems to be based on the mistaken belief that racism is over.
"Aaaaand there it is. The idea that, because President Obama was elected, systemic racism was pretty much solved. Which is absolutely absurd because racism isn't one of those things that just disappears on its own in due time. It's not like Chicken Pox or Chewbacca Mom."
There isn't an easy answer to this obvious problem, but a solution does need to be found. Oliver pointed out that "segregation does actual harm to actual students, and not just to their education, but to their very sense of self-worth." Schools should install a sense of self-esteem in children, "not rip it from them; that's what Prom is for". Black students who attend desegregated schools do better in school and are more likely to graduate -- benefits that are also seen in the children of parents who attended a desegregated school. It's also worth noting that there are no negative effects to white students when desegregation occurs. In fact, exposing children to people of diverse backgrounds helps develop empathy and sensitivity.
This issue isn't just about parents and the school system; it's about everyone. "Because kids grow up, because those little doctors, soldiers, police officers, and superheroes asking you for candy tomorrow night, in a decade or so, they might be actual doctors, soldiers, police officers, and assistant directors of human resources, and there are massive and multiple benefits for all of us if they interacted a lot more from an early age".
"The 2016 election, or, as it's better known 'The Shit-Filled Cornucopia That Just Keeps On Giving, 2016.'"
"[describing the FBI's renewed investigation in to Clinton's emails] ... and like the box from the end of Se7en, it could contain anything from nothing to Gwyneth Paltrow's head. Although it almost definitely contains Anthony Weiner's penis."
"If you look up now, you will see absolutely nothing. And I'll tell you why. We have burrowed through not just rock bottom but through the core of the earth, and we have come bursting out the other side, startling kangaroos; and we're currently hurdling toward outer space, where there is no up, down, light, or darkness, just an endless void, in which death comes as a sweet, sweet relief. Please, let this thing be over soon."
Last Week Tonight returns next week at 11:00pm on HBO.