“When I’m gone, when I’m gone. You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.”
Those are also the lyrics that echoed as President Obama took the podium at the White House Correspondent Dinner for an 8th and final time. Referencing the Pitch Perfect favorite, his first words were, “You can’t say it, but you know it’s true.”
This was indeed true. In his usual, charismatic fashion, our President maneuvered through many subjects leaving, what I thought would be, no more room for other jokes. President Obama touched on Fox News, the current state of politics, the republican party, Bernie Sanders, and yes, Donald Trump. He also commented on the non-aging First Lady, Michelle. No one was exempt. A classic nerd prom is known for its hilarity infused with uncomfortable moments. By uncomfortable moments, I mean that thought you get when you can tell there was actual truth in the joke, and maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t laugh at this. But this is normal and expected. There is no foul in the hurt feelings of a CNN journalist or current presidential candidate.
Things did, however, take a turn as Larry Wilmore took the stage for his monologue. Weather that turn was the right or wrong is your choice. His first joke? “Welcome to Negro Night at Washington or as Fox News reports, two thugs disrupts elegant dinner in D.C.” From the opener, there was a shift in the tone and comfort level. You could sense the tension in the room and majority of Black America (via Twitter) knew that this was the beginning of something epic.
You see, 2016 has been donned “The Blackest Year Ever.” Throughout his last year in presidency, we’ve seen President Obama represent the culture increasingly, and the White House Correspondent Dinner was no different with Larry Wilmore’s presence. As Wilmore told joke after joke, dropped bomb after bomb, there was an obvious focus on racial matters. From Black Lives Matter to MSNBC’s lack of diversity in on-air journalists, Wilmore did not hold anything back.
It would be unfair to say that Wilmore only focused on race. He made everything hilariously awkward. While cracking a joke about CCN ratings, Wilmore was greeted with a response of groans that clearly signaled, “you didn’t have to go there.” In fact, they continued all night, as jokes of Kelly Rippa, Wolf Blitzer, print media, and even Bill Cosby ensued. Wilmore did not, however, ease up.
Perhaps the most monumental (and controversial) moment was Wilmore’s final words when acknowledging President Obama’s tremendous feat of being a black man leading the United States of America. He finished with, “Barry, my ni**a, you did it.” It is without doubt that Wilmore knew there would be backlash for his parting words, but one thing is for sure, majority of Black America knew exactly where he was coming from. To some, his use of the N-word stung; as it was a reminder of the hypocrisy of who is able to use it. To me, Wilmore’s usage of the N-word was like a long-awaited and anticipated bear hug. It was a bear hug that included all of the black community embracing President Obama and his family has he gets ready to depart the White House.
So thank you, Larry Wilmore. Thank you for unapologetically reveling in the glory of being black in America. Thank you for unapologetically recognizing the significant achievement President Obama has accomplished these last eight years. Thank you for not playing it safe and embracing a room full vexatious faces and laughs head on. Lastly, thank you keeping it 100 by reminding President Obama, that he is our, Black America’s, ni**a, and he did it.
“Obama out.” [drops mic] –President Obama