This past weekend, President Barack Obama attended his last White House Correspondents’ Dinner to great applause and humor. The event was tinged with biting satire and political jabs at the current presidential candidates as well as political issues. The comedic host this year was Larry Wilmore, host of the popular cable program “The Nightly Show” on Comedy Central. It was understood that Wilmore would interject race into his routine as he does on his show, and he landed some zingers. Among them that “Fox News would cover the event — “Two thugs disrupt elegant dinner in D.C.” and a direct insult to Don Lemon and his role as a Black journalist.
But what surprised the audience was when Wilmore actually dropped the N-word. Wilmore joked:
“I’ve always joked that I voted for the president because he’s Black. Behind that joke is a humble appreciation for the historical implications for what your presidency means. When I was a kid, I lived in a country where people couldn’t accept a Black quarterback. 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 … Yo, Barry, you did it, my n—a!”
The room responded with lackluster applause and some actually booed Wilmore. His use of the N-word garnered a stern rebuke from the Rev. Al Sharpton who is quoted as stating “Many of us are against using the N-word, period. But to say that to the president of the United States in front of the top people in media was at best in poor taste. … I think he was trying to in his own way to act like he was relating. But relating to who? Or what? I really didn’t like it.”
Black Twitter was equally outraged and amused at Wilmore’s comments and the appropriateness of using the N-word on national TV in front of America’s first Black president. One commentator hit the nail on the head when he tweeted:
“With one sentence Larry Wilmore delivers the nightmare white folks have been trying to avoid for 8 years. HAHAAHA” -. Father Of Draggins @rodimusprime
So far, Wilmore has been unapologetic about his use of the slur, as he said at the time, he was “keeping it 100.”