Watch Jon Stewart’s Moving Comments on Charleston Shooting and Racism in America‏

For once, Stewart had no jokes to offer.

Photo courtesy of Comedy Central.

On Thursday June 18, the day after the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Shooting, Jon Stewart had an unusual welcome for his Daily Show audience. There were no funny jokes or hilarious news clips. Instead, Stewart gave a serious 5-minute monologue about racism and the reality of being black in South Carolina and across the country.

“That’s insanity. That’s racial wallpaper.

“I got nothing for you in terms of jokes,” Stewart said. “I have nothing other than just sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other.”

Stewart criticized the mainstream media for calling the shooting a “senseless tragedy,” a phrase he says distracts from the fact that the mass murder in Charleston was a direct and racist attack on the black community.

Stewart went on call out Americans for ignoring deep-seated racism throughout the country. “In South Carolina, the roads that black people drive on are named for Confederate generals who fought to keep black people from being able to drive freely on that road,” Stewart said. “That’s insanity. That’s racial wallpaper. You can’t allow that.”

Stewart’s decision to stray from his usual style of programming has gotten a lot of attention. Beyond honoring the seriousness of the Charleston church shooting, his break from routine highlights the opportunity that popular figures, no matter what their race, have to contribute the conversation about race and racism in America today.