Al Roker From NBC’s ‘Today’ Says This ‘Seinfeld’ Episode Is an Example of Institutional Racism

by Jeremy Spirogis
Kimberly Norris as Winona, Al Roker as himself on

Al Roker from NBC’s Today mentioned that Seinfeld‘s “The Cigar Store Indian” episode is an instance of institutional racism that will not be acceptable in today’s setting.

Kimberly Norris as Winona, Al Roker as himself on 'Seinfeld'
Kimberly Norris as Winona, Al Roker as himself |Barry Slobin/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal through Getty Images

Roker shared on the Life is Short with Justin Long podcast that the episode was thought-about to be an “A-minus,” he mentioned. “They said it was like one of the best. It’s called ‘The Cigar Store Indian.’ Which is very fitting for today with what’s happening right now.”

Long agrees that elements of the episode may very well be problematic in today’s society. In the episode, Jerry Seinfeld offers Elaine Benes a full-sized cigar retailer Indian to make up for forcing her to take the subway again from the Costanza’s home. Roker seems within the episode on the quilt of the TV Guide Benes is studying after which afterward the subway.

Al Roker provides his ideas on the episode

Looking again, Roker shared his perception into the traditional episode, which initially aired in 1993. “Well I think with an episode like that is actually pretty instructional for today,” Roker shared. “It talks about, and I believe Jerry Seinfeld of the Seinfeld sitcom, would have thought [of] himself in all probability [as] a liberal. And definitely, an individual who could be very tolerant.”

“And yet it shows how ingrained in a sense institutional racism is,” he continues. “Whether you are talking about Native Americans … it’s there. And the episode points that out in a comedic way. But … it does.”

'The Cigar Store Indian' Episode 10 Estelle Harris as Estelle Costanza, Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza'The Cigar Store Indian' Episode 10 Estelle Harris as Estelle Costanza, Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza
‘The Cigar Store Indian’ Episode 10 Estelle Harris as Estelle Costanza, Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza | Barry Slobin/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal through Getty Images

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Long feedback about how instances have modified and other people grew up being insensitive to the nuances. “The Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians,” Roker factors out. “Nobody would have ever put up with, say, a baseball team called the Newark Negroes or the Jersey Jews. They just wouldn’t.”

Roker encourages dialog about racism

“I think we’re at a time right now, and I think you have to be careful because I think we’ve talked about… People are, almost up until now, been afraid to have the conversation,” Roker shares. “And I think if you are people of goodwill, if your heart’s in the right place, you can ask a stupid question. You can ask a bad question, but I think we’ve been afraid.”

Roker shared that Today present hosts have been having a dialog about racism. “We’ve been speaking quite a bit about it on the Today present, within the third hour, rising up black, elevating a black son,” he mentioned.

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“My son has special needs, but he is very outgoing. He went to high school on the subway every day. I literally would not breathe a sigh of relief until he walked in the door each day. And I knew, ‘Okay, he’s home. He’s safe.’ Because as I’ve told him, I said, ‘Bud, listen, you can’t do stupid stuff. If some of your buddies decide to jump a turnstile, you can’t do that. Because if there is a transit policeman there, you’re the one that’s going to get stopped.’”

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