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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. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Viewers have been so obsessed with “Nightly Show” host Larry Wilmore’s use of the “N” word (“Yo Barry, you did it, my n—-a.”) at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents Dinner, they missed the truly outrageous jokes.

Like, “[MSNBC show] ‘Morning Joe’ has their head so far up Trump’s (bleep) they bumped into Chris Christie.”

Or how when Ben Carson defended President Andrew Jackson’s place on the $20 bill, Jackson sat up in his grave and asked, “What did that jiggaboo say?”

Here’s the point. When you’re a comedian, your only sin is not being funny. But here’s a rule for Black people: You can’t use “nigga” in mixed company.

Use of the “N” word — whether it ends in “er” or “a” — is a debate that still rages within the Black community. It goes something like this: Do Black people’s usage of their own version of the word give power to the term’s original racist intent? Or does such usage take the power out of the word by transforming it into a term of personal endearment or affection?

Although I lean toward the latter, I don’t much participate in the back-and-forth of the debate. Both sides are valid. But I do think it’s an internal debate. So until we sort it out, Larry, limit usage to internal settings.

Plus, using the “N” word in mixed company gives whites the impression that they can use it in mixed company. And they can’t. We’re not there yet. (And likely won’t get there).

Some of the comic’s defenders did revel in the joke. Frankly, it seemed anti-climactic to me. President Barack Obama had already worked the “Black” angle. He’d even dropped the mic — literally. That was loose enough. You can’t come behind a President who drops the mic and drop the “N” word.

Wilmore acknowledged his own faults with his dialogue. In an Associated Press story, he said, “I may have underestimated the tone of how I was telling the jokes” (like the one comparing legendary journalist Wolf Blitzer to a drone).

But the AP story said Wilmore “believes his use of the term ‘n—a’ to address President Obama may open an important dialogue for the country.”

Um, the country?

Despite reviews that Wilmore “bombed” at the dinner, I thought most of his material was hilarious. But admittedly, I would have been uncomfortable if I’d been sitting next to a White person. I’d have certainly felt uncomfortable in that room.

Someone pointed out that Wilmore’s line featuring the “N” word would have been just as effective if he’d substituted the phrase “my brotha.”

Wilmore told the AP reporter that he wasn’t worried about hosting another such occasion, saying, “I don’t think you get invited to something like this after what I did.”

Well, if you do, keep some things just among us.

 Sheila Simmons is an award-winning journalist and a public relations specialist. She is the author of “Memoir of a Minnie Riperton Fan.” She can be reached at ssimmons@phillytrib.com or http://www.simmonssheila.com.

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