May 05, 2016 - Issue 652 Cover Story: Larry Wilmore’s ‘Barry, you did
it my n*gga!’ moment was expected and 100% authentic - Color of Law By
David A. Love, JD, BC Executive Editor
May 05, 2016 - Issue 652
‘Barry, you did it my n*gga!’ Moment
Was Expected and 100% Authentic
"The Correspondents’ Dinner was a roast, a form
of comedy and satire where far worse has been
said in the past. Larry was the hired entertainment,
and people knew what they were getting. You’d
better believe the brother and his speech was vetted,
and Obama, Michelle and them knew
what the man was going to say."
Did you see Larry Wilmoreat the White House Correspondents’ DinnerSaturday night? The comedian and host of Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show” roasted President Obama at
the annual gathering of journalists. And in typical fashion,
Wilmore kept it real. Even better, he kept it 100. And it
was an authentic moment between twoblack men when
Wilmore ended his remarks by saying: “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.”
The president visibly and approvingly acknowledged Wilmore, and the two men embraced.
Wilmore caught some hell for what he said, especially from segments of
the African-American community who took issue with his use of that
variation of the N-word at the event. And in all honesty, the
criticism is understood and duly noted, give the long history of that
word, the negative, hateful and hurtful connotation, and the impact it
has had on black people. To be sure, that word has been a tool to
uphold racism, and a weapon to kill our aspirations and our dignity.
black folks say Wilmore was disrespectful to the president,
disrespectful to authority, and that his comment was inappropriate.
They thought the comic showed poor judgment, that he was over the top,
and his use of the dreaded word was embarrassing and cringeworthy.
Moreover, they say, Larry created discomfort. After all, how will
the white people in the room react to a black man using the
N-word? Will it give them license to do the same? And
certainly if they tried that, they would be the recipients of our
full-fledged and unmitigated condemnation, right?
yet, we need to look at this from a different perspective. First
of all, the Correspondents’ Dinner was a roast, a form of comedy and
satire where far worse has been said in the past. Larry was the
hired entertainment, and people knew what they were getting.
You’d better believe the brother and his speech was vetted, and Obama,
Michelle and them knew what the man was going to say.
have license to say that which others will not or cannot utter.
And Larry Wilmore is a truth teller in a long line of black truth
tellers, fromRichard Pryor to Dick Gregory. In that regard, Wilmore did not disappoint.
example, on the realities of having the first black president, he said:
“All I’m saying is that in less than eight years, Mr. President, you’ve
busted two time-honored stereotypes. Black does crack, and apparently
once you go black, it looks like we are going back. Thanks, Ben Carson.”
I was a kid, I lived in a country where people couldn’t accept a black
quarterback. Now think about that,” Wilmore said. “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.”
covered the issue of white attitudes towards black protest: “Oh, by the
way, you guys, Black Lives Matter is here tonight. I’m just kidding.
Relax, white people, they’re not here. It’s just a joke. Just relax,
just relax,” Wilmore told the crowd. Wilmore managed to discuss
Donald Trump’s racism, jokingly telling President Obama: “You look
terrible, Mr. President. No, you do man! I mean look at you! Your hair
is so white, it tried to punch me at a Trump rally.”
importantly, Wilmore broached the subject of race in the media.
“Well, welcome to ‘Negro Night’ here at the Washington Hilton, or as
Fox News will report, ‘Two thugs disrupt elegant dinner in D.C.’ That’s
how they do us, right?” In addition, the talk show host called
out one network for their elimination of black journalists from their
— MSNBC here tonight? No? Which actually now stands for “Missing a
Significant Number of Black Correspondents.” Am I wrong? They like
fired Melissa Harris-Perry, they canceled Joy Reid, they booted Tour�.
I heard they put Chris Hayes on probation because they thought he was
related to Isaac Hayes. That’s wrong.
MSNBC got rid of so many black people I thought Boko Haram was running that network. What was going on…?
Meanwhile, Wilmore also called out a program on the same network for coddling Trump:
you seen “Morning Joe”? C’mon, guys, seriously. No, you know it’s true.
Guys, “Morning Joe” has their head so far up Trump’s ass they bumped
into Chris Christie. You know that’s true. You know I’m not lying. You
know that’s true.
Larry Wilmore has outraged some over his n*gga moment. But were
people as outraged over the past eight years, when the tea party and
racist whites in the GOP called the president all kind of names, and
portrayed him and the First Lady as apes and monkeys? You can’t
blame Michelle for being ready to leave.
Meanwhile, New York Mayor Bill deBlasio and Hillary Clinton got away with their “C.P. time” joke, so what’s all the fuss?
again, the so-called N-word is a hateful thing, but there is also a
context to what happened at the Correspondents’ Dinner. The
message Wilmore conveyed was done with love and admiration. And he took
a word of oppression, flipped it around and owned it, as black men have
been known to do. Disagree as you might, but that is the reality.
Wilmore made some people feel uncomfortable, but that’s his job.
His words angered many, but the racism and the racists he called
out that night should anger you even more.