Monday, May 2, 2016

Larry Wilmore, President Obama, The WHCD and Racial Slurs

Let's say that you invite a guest to your home. He says he needs to relieve himself. You inform him where the restroom is. But he says "No thanks, I keep it 100!" He then proceeds to remove his lower clothing and joyously defecate on your living room carpet. When you inform him that you have a BIG problem with what he just did he self-righteously accuses you of hypocrisy. After all, everyone has body functions. Why should he hide his? How dare you impose your hypocritical standards on him. He's a better person than you because he's honest. That admittedly imperfect analogy describes my feelings when I read that comedian and writer Larry Wilmore had used a form of a racial slur at the Saturday White House Correspondents Dinner to describe President Obama and his appreciation for the President. 

Wilmore, the host of Comedy Central's "The Nightly Report," used the term at the close of his comedy monologue at the annual glittery gathering of politicians, journalists, celebrities and dignitaries. He ended his 20 minutes of barbs with sincere personal remarks about what it means to see a black president in his lifetime. “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, I'm going to keep it a hundred. Yo Barry, you did it, my n---a." Wimore pounded his chest in a "peace out" gesture. Obama returned the gesture, laughed and rose from his seat to shake Wilmore's hand.
What sort of Jedi mind trick have racists done on black people so that not only do we call each other a racial slur that they created but we are proud to do so and consider it daring and revolutionary to do so in front of white people? In fact a big part of the reason that some of us want to use that word is just so we can go na-na-na-na at white people and say you can't say it so there!
No other group routinely does this.
No Jewish person would go to a ceremony and congratulate Ruth Bader Ginsburg by calling her a k**e or Christ-Killer.
No Italian would speak in mixed company about how proud they are of Rudy Giuliani, their d**o from way back.
No South Asian would give a shout out to their street sh***r comrade, US Attorney Preet Bharara.
No East Asian would tell US Ambassador Gary Locke that they are proud that he's a g**k just like him. Why? Because those communities all seem to have enough self-respect and common sense to realize that a) you don't insult your own in public that way and b) some words can't be reclaimed.
Somehow the Enemy has convinced us that by using his language to describe each other we're doing the right thing and keeping it real. Real stupid. Again. My rant is not about that hoary foolish dance that blacks and whites engage in where whites self-righteously claim to be mightily offended and oppressed that they can't say n******. Besides although I am by definition not privy to exclusively white conversations, some friends of mine who are tell me that some whites have no problem letting racial slurs fly once they feel comfortable and safe. That's not what it's about. My question is why are black people still saying it? Because I tell you the fact that we still routinely refer to each other with racial slurs is probably not unrelated to the fact that we have such a high murder rate. It's probably not unrelated to the fact that people just off the boat who can barely speak English often dominate such businesses in the black community such as hair care or gas stations or grocery stores. It's probably not unrelated to the fact that every day there is news about how this or that white billionaire/millionaire is making a deal in downtown inner city USA or is being asked to save some inner city while somehow after 45+ years of black civic leadership the black businesses in inner cities are disproportionately wig shops, church affiliated businesses or cell phone franchises. 

It's probably not unrelated to the fact that even the black professional class has a tough time finding black clients because several black people prefer white money managers, agents, lawyers, doctors, accountants, real estate agents,etc. So the black community can't offer regular employment to either its professional class or its knucklehead class, with dire albeit different consequences for both. Is this all because of self-hate and using racial slurs with each other? Well no. Obviously not. But self-hate plays a part. You can not trust, love or work well with someone when you use dehumanizing language to describe them. Dehumanizing someone makes it easier to hate them or kill them.

What message does it send the world to have a black man referring to the most powerful black man in the word as a racial slur? Netanyahu and Putin probably loved that scene.

How did flaunting our supposed ability to call each other racial slurs in public become principled defiance to racist white power? I missed that memo. No one's perfect. White supremacy has done a number on us all. But we should fight against that mindset, not celebrate it. When I hear people go out of their way to call each other n******s and b****s when brother and sister should be used, I hear someone who deep down inside is still terrorized and mentally defeated. Such people are so scared of being free and independent that they'd rather hold on to the language of submission and enslavement. There are times, when contrary to the modern zeitgeist, the street people, the common man, the poor man, etc gets it wrong. Wilmore and Obama both know better. They should set a better example, not pander to low class stereotypes. Wilmore was tactless and tasteless. And worst of all, he just wasn't funny. 

But that's just my take. What's yours?

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