All Revved Up: Did Larry Wilmore Go Too Far?

May 2, 2016

Following President Obama’s mic-drop at his last White House Correspondents Dinner, comedian Larry Wilmore took to the stage, saying, "Welcome to Negro Night here in Washington — or as Fox News will report, Two Thugs Disrupt Elegant Dinner in D.C."

The former Daily Show Senior Black Correspondent tackled race, President Obama’s legacy, and candidates from both parties. Wilmore received groans, chuckles and even a smile and a middle-finger salute from CNN’s Don Lemon. To close out the night, Wilmore finished with these words:

"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-word]. You did it.”

According to Reverend Irene Monroe, this was the moment when Wilmore took it too far. In a recent piece for WGBH, Monroe wrote, “The notion that it is acceptable for African-Americans to use the n-word with each other, yet it is considered racist for others outside the race to use it unquestionably sets up a double standard. And because language is a public enterprise, the notion that one ethnic group has property rights to the term is an absurdly narrow argument. The fact that African-Americans have appropriated the n-word does not negate our long history of self-hatred.”

Rev. Irene Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist who writes for Huffington Post and Bay Windows. She and Rev. Emmett G. Price III, a professor of music at Northeastern University, and the author of The Black Church and Hip Hop Culture, joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio for their weekly feature, All Revved Up. Click on the audio link above to listen. 


WGBH News is supported by:
Back to top