Story highlights

"United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell" traveled around the US for Season 2

Bell interviewed people about guns, Islam, immigration and the Dakota Access pipeline

Programming note: Watch the season 3 premiere of “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” on Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

CNN —  

CNN Original Series “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” has crisscrossed the country for a second season of in-depth conversations with people of all stripes to try and dig deeper into what America is all about.

This time around, the comedian and political provocateur tackled everything from the history of the country’s indigenous population to gun ownership. Along the way, Bell shared his thoughts and opinions – follow the winding route he took through his reflections below.

In DC, big ideas put hate speech to shame

“In case you missed it, in the first episode I interview (Richard) Spencer, a white supremacist who believes, among other things, that America is a country for white people only and that white people define America’s culture (which means that Spencer is neither a fan of history books nor the TV show ‘Grey’s Anatomy’). And he also believes that a woman’s place is in the home. How he didn’t end up with a cabinet position in President Trump’s White House, I’ll never know.” (Read more)

Chicago needs leaders as amazing as its people

“In 2016, there were 762 homicides in Chicago – more than in New York and Los Angeles combined. That is a staggering, heartbreaking number. We’re talking people of all ages, races, ethnicities and genders – the very young to the very old. But I know that violence is not the whole story of Chicago. And I know this because, again, I used to live there.” (Read more)

Standing Rock changed how I see America

“I can’t imagine what it must be like to be one of the indigenous people of the United States of America. I can’t imagine watching the news every day – as people debate whose country this is and who should be in charge of it and how to make it great again – and hardly ever see your people brought into the discussion. As a black person in this country, I am always frustrated by the lack of attention my people’s issues get. But at least the news and politicians are talking about not talking about our issues. Native issues are basically ignored.” (Read more)

What I learned from small-town Muslim Americans

“The people I most hope watch this episode are those Americans who have never had a conversation with a Muslim. I want them to watch not so they can give Muslims one more chance, but so they can give themselves one more chance to really understand the true experience of Muslim Americans.” (Read more)

California makes it hard to buy a gun

“I decided to find out what it’s like to buy a gun in my home state of California, a state with some of the most restrictive gun laws on the books. I never owned a gun before. I didn’t want to own a gun, really, so why’d I get a gun? Well, I have a lot of opinions, and those opinions cause a lot of feelings. And I have a family, so I thought, ‘Maybe I need a gun.’” (Watch more)

Exploring America’s relationship with Puerto Rico

“Puerto Rico is complicated. The people are complicated. The history is complicated. The story of the United States’ relationship to Puerto Rico is complicated. People born in Puerto Rico are US citizens, except for the teeny, tiny, mind-boggling fact that if you live in Puerto Rico, you are not allowed to cast a vote in the election for president.” (Read more)

Appalachian stereotypes run deep

“Appalachia refers to a 13 state region along the Appalachian mountain range. The area includes states such as Pennsylvania, Tennessee and … the eastern part of Kentucky. This is coal country, and coal is one of the three things most people think about when they think of Appalachia, along with abject poverty and the movie ‘Deliverance.’” (Watch more)

Talking foreign relations and Chinese Americans

“Of all the countries that probably look at the United States as this young whippersnapper, China is probably one of them. ‘You know, we’ve been here for centuries. We’ve seen a lot, we’ve been through a lot. You? You think we’re worried about you? OK, good luck, Sir.’ ” (Watch more)