Samantha Bee's Full Frontal Partners with Nonprofit to Help End White Supremacy: 'White People Have to Own This Problem'
Samantha Bee and her Full Frontal team are supporting the white supremacist reform group Life After Hate after it loses federal funding
“This is our bread and butter,” Bee, 47, tells PEOPLE. “This is the stuff we’re interested in and passionate about.”
Prior to the Saturday attack at a white supremacist rally that left one dead and 19 injured, the late night host had been approached by field producer Tyler Hall and associate producer Lauren Walker about doing a story on the nonprofit Life After Hate, which was about to lose its $400,000 government grant. The organization, the only of its kind, seeks to rehabilitate white supremacists and draw them away from a life of violence and hate.
At the conclusion of shooting the segment (set to air in September) with Life After Hate co-founder and former white supremacist Christian Picciolini, President Donald Trump’s administration had officially rescinded the funding that had been approved under Barack Obama just months earlier.
“They weren’t given a reason,” Full Frontal executive producer Jo Miller explains to PEOPLE. “But we now know that it was the Trump administration wanting to focus all the judgment towards Islamic extremists and not white supremacy extremism.”
Now Bee and Miller want to drive traffic to Life After Hate’s crowdfunding site in order to help the group educate and de-radicalize people away from the far-right by fielding calls and emails, creating response groups, monitoring online communities, and training former hate group members as mentors. Founded and run by ex-white supremacists, Life After Hate has already proven successful with its methodologies and in the wake of current events, Bee says they’ve been overwhelmed by people seeking their services.”
“It’s crazy that we need them more than ever,” she adds. “These things are not waning, the intensity is growing. It’s outrageous on a very deep level that they are the only organization outside of the FBI trying to do this work, and it’s sad that we have to crowdfund these amazing organizations that the administration would seek to take away a grant from. In the grand scheme of things it’s such a small amount of money for the work that they do.”
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Along with donating, the duo urge viewers to take responsibility to stop the spread of fake news that leads to racism.
“People are receiving so much misinformation through the conservative media,” asserts Miller. “We have to repeat to people in our family or a causal acquaintance who believes these things, ‘No that’s not true.’ They’re resting their options on misinformation and it’s up to us to correct it. And it has to be repeated.”
Bee points out, “You have to introduce new foods like 75 times to a child before they’ll accept it.”
The comedian hopes that like the members of Life After Hate, white Americans can do their part in changing history.
“We need to be calling out casual racism,” she continues. “White people have to own this problem. We really do. This problem is our fault and we need to take ownership of it and try to help fix it.”
To donate and learn more, head to lifeafterhate.org/donate.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee airs Wednesdays (10:30 p.m. ET) on TBS.