If you can’t use your late-night show’s meager props budget to teach some history and piss off the right people, then why even get up in the morning? Luckily, The Amber Ruffin Show is always eager to break out the photo frames, glitter paint, and research materials, with host Ruffin walking us through various halls of fame/shame—and offering up some alternatives. In the past, Ruffin has celebrated those nerdy science types that Americans have pooh-poohed right into their own anti-vaxxer, well-water-pooping graves, while, on Friday’s show, she turned her deceptively friendly gaze on those white supremacist traitors who, for reasons you can probably guess, still got their names emblazoned on American military bases.
Walking through her “Wall Of People Who Deserve To Have Bases Named After Them Instead Of Confederate Generals” (wordy, but it sets up the premise nicely), Ruffin not only called out the Confederate generals commemorated by the very military those generals attacked in a traitorous Civil War, but brought along her helpful suggestions for more suitable replacements. There’s the currently nonexistent Fort Touvestre, which would be named for enslaved Black woman Mary Touvestre, whose art skills in drawing an under-construction Confederate ironclad ship (and walking skills in hoofing it all the way to present her intel to Union generals in D.C.) at least warrants a naval base. At least more than does Confederate General Pierre Beauregard who, apart form being a racist, was, as Ruffin explained smilingly, “a traitor, and a losin’-ass bitch.”
And what about renaming Fort Pickett, named for a Confederate general who fled to Canada after the South lost, earning him Ruffin’s label as “a coward, and a traitor, and a losin’-ass bitch.” Amber put up one Cathay Williams as more deserving of military honors, since—apart from not being a traitor—the Black woman enlisted in the Buffalo Soldiers by dressing up as a man. (Williams was only discovered in an army hospital after being wounded in combat for an army that wouldn’t accept a Black woman into its ranks.) Ruffin also said that Fort Bethune (named after HBCU booster, Tuskegee Airmen inspiration, and controversial for many reasons best friend of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Mary McLeod Bethune) had a better ring to it than, say, the traitor-honoring Fort Hood. (Named for white supremacist and “melting Jake Gyllenhall,” Confederate General John Bell Hood.)
It’s not often that there’s a spoiler in a history lesson, but it’s best to watch Ruffin blow some minds by revealing just who Araminta Ross was, as she suggested that Fort Ross beats the hell out of a base named for Henry Benning (another Confederate and, according to Ruffin, straight up “trash”). Ruffin, after struggling to get her makeshift hall fo fame to work properly, flashed up a quote from the Fort Benning namesake decrying a future where Black people might one day function as politicians, jurors, and professionals, only to close out her case by noting, “Have a seat, bitch, ’cause it’s happening!”
As Ruffin concluded, “Any Black woman who has survived America to be come an adult is smarter, and stronger, and more deserving than a Confederate general.” (Yes, even Ruffin’s own mom, who—apart from never trying to overthrow American democracy in pursuit of an authoritarian white ethnostate—also served in the Air Force.) Ruffin introduced her stroll through the ranks of deliberately excluded Black women by noting that there are currently more military bases named for white men who actively tried to overthrow the government than there are for Black people and women who served America combined. As for those other deserving historical figures, if you hadn’t heard of them in your Republican-whitewashed history class, well, that’s what Amber’s here for.