Larry Wilmore, the guest host from Comedy Central, speaks at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington, Saturday, April 30, 2016.Photo: (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
What was expected to be a friendly and light-hearted skewering of political and media elites at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner by Larry Wilmore, comedian and host of Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show,” turned into a night of off-color remarks and edgy jabs complete with moans and groans.
In his closing remarks thanking Obama for his tenure as president and the mark he has made in the world, Wilmore dropped the n-word. And at that moment you heard audible gasps and saw visible grimaces of shock, pain and embarrassment.
“When I was a kid, I lived in a country where people couldn’t accept a black quarterback,” Wilmore said. “Now think about that. A black man was thought by his mere color not good enough to lead a football team — and now, to live in your time, Mr. President, when a black man can lead the entire free world.Words alone do me no justice. So, Mr. President, if i’m going to keep it 100: Yo, Barry, you did it, my n—-. You did it.”
When Wilmore dropped the n-word Twitter blew up. And what will probably be debated for a while is whether Wilmore went too far. Many of the comments on Twitter were asking “Is the n-word what the American public need to hear associated to Obama’s last months in office, especially given the racial rollercoaster the entire country has been on since Obama took office and evident by the treatment of him?”
Wilmore won’t be the last African-American comedian to use the epithet in public discourse. But how it’s used means everything.
For example, last year when news broke that President Obama used the word during the podcast interview “WTF with Marc Maron” about America’s racial history, it caused shockwaves. We are shocked because we are all confused as to when — if ever — there is an appropriate context to use the word.