Comedian Larry Wilmore brought the White House Correspondents’ Dinner to an awkward halt when he summed up his routine by telling President Obama, “Yo, Barry, you did it, my nigga.” Of course, the blogosphere went into orbit with this point-blank send-off.
Not only was it disrespectful, pundits, tweeters, activists, and anti-n-word people said, but it was in bad taste, inappropriate in the White House, and a disservice to all black people. Wilmore has defended his choice and said that he felt that it was right to say it and it summed up his feelings toward Obama and his presidency, especially with it being his last year in office.
We all know the history of the word, so we don’t need to get into that. We also all know that many black people distinguish between “nigger” and “nigga” and there are rules around the words. What we all need to recognize is language is nuanced and fluid and holds different meanings for different people.
Just because Wilmore referred to Obama as “my nigga” doesn’t necessarily give a greenlight for any and everybody else to come up to the president and go, “What’s up, my nigga?” Despite the ugly history of the word, it holds a large significance for many blacks where it can be used as a term of endearment, a term of pride, a term of repurposing a word.
If free speech is a guaranteed right in this country, can we really tell people what they can and can’t say? Whatever word we don’t like, can we just erase it from the common vernacular? Should we stop people from using any word that could be considered hurtful to anybody else? Did Wilmore cross the line? Is using the word nigga always unacceptable?
Watch his complete remarks yourself and decide: