Yeah, it’s ok to use racist slurs when your black. It’s just not ok for anyone else. That’s pretty much the message coming from White House aides as they frantically spin the behavior at Saturday night’s WH Correspondent’s Dinner. In his last months, Obama isn’t even trying to hide his racial biases.
The gasps were audible as Larry Wilmore uttered the word. The Guardian:
The White House has faced tough questioning over comedian Larry Wilmore’s use of a taboo racial slur at its annual correspondents dinner.
Press secretary Josh Earnest was challenged repeatedly by April Ryan, an African American journalist and author of The Presidency in Black and White, who suggested that many people in the room were “appalled” by the N-word being uttered to the president’s face. Earnest said that Barack Obama appreciated “the spirit” of Wilmore’s remark.
Wilmore, who is African American, ended his after-dinner speech on Saturday by recognising the historical significance of America’s first black president, pounding his chest and telling Obama: “Words alone do me no justice. So, Mr President, if I’m going to keep it 100: yo, Barry, you did it, my nigga.”
The comment immediately divided people both in the room and beyond. Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post blogged: “Never before has the n-word been used to address the president. At least, not in public and most definitely not to his face. That’s why Wilmore’s use of it was as shocking as it was disrespectful.”
And of course, it was intentional, just to set the country on fire and rub it in the faces of the white population. . . . without admitting it directly.
He cited the examples of Stephen Colbert, who in 2006 memorably roasted George W Bush, and Wanda Sykes, who in 2009 joked about the 11 September terrorist attacks. “So it’s not the first time that we’ve had a conversation like this in which these of kinds of concerns have been raised or expressed.
“Look, I had an opportunity to speak to the president about this briefly this morning and he said that he appreciated the spirit of the sentiments that Mr Wilmore expressed.”
Reflecting on Wilmore’s routine, which also targeted some journalists and left them stony-faced, Earnest added: “He ended his speech by saying that he couldn’t put into words the pride that he felt in this president and he made the observation that our country has made remarkable progress just in his lifetime from not being willing to accept an African American quarterback to electing and re-electing an African American not just to lead the United States but to lead the free world.
“Again, I take Mr Wilmore at his words that he found that to be a powerful transformation just in his lifetime and something that he seemed to be pretty obviously proud of.”