It never ceases to amaze me how indignant folks in the majority population can get over the fact that they aren't allowed to use the n-word. If I hear this familiar refrain again: "They use it to each other so why can't we"? one more time, I swear I will find religion.
My views on the subject of the n word is well documented, I personally don't use the word, but I am not as offended as others when the younger generation of African Americans use it. And I certainly can appreciate it when it is used in the context of art. "Sucka Nigga" is still one of the greatest hip hop songs of all times (RIP Phife Dawg), and I can appreciate its use in film and other forms of artistic expression as well.
Having said all of that, given how the word was used by whites historically (and how they still, in some quarters, continue to use it today) it is never ever cool for whites to use the word in general conversation.
This notion that they can use the word because we do is preposterous. I have Italian friends who refer to other Italians as the d word, that does not give me the right to use that word to an Italian American, and I would certainly never make an issue of the fact that I am not supposed to use the word because it is repugnant to them when it is said by someone who doesn't happen to be Italian American.
It's really that simple, folks.
This all leads me to Larry Wilmore's use of the word (or something like it) to close the White House Correspondence Dinner last night.
I played tennis with an older African American gentleman today who was furious that Wilmore even went there to his Oness. To him, it was disrespectful, given the historical nature of O's presidency and the fact that this was his official send off from the Washington elites. And judging from what was said on twitter and in other quarters, he was not alone. Heck even Rev Al weighed in, and he, like others, gave it a thumbs down.
I personally was not so much offended by the word as I was the fact that the line was not particularly funny. Wilmore is a fine comedy writer, but let's face it, he is not a very good stand up comedian, so that joke, like a few others, fell flat.
Leonard Greene, writing for the New York Daily News, had a good take on it.
"That’s not to say Wilmore bombed the whole set. He managed to get off quite a few good lines, like the one about Obama’s graying hair.
“Mr. President, your hair is so white, it tried to punch me at a Trump rally,” Wilmore said. “The President’s hair is so white it keeps saying ‘All lives matter.’”
Wilmore should have quit while he was ahead.
Besides unfairly putting Obama on the spot about the most loaded word in the English language, Wilmore just gave white people, many of whom have for nearly eight years been beside themselves over a black man in the White House, license to use the N-word against the leader of the free world."
Yep. "They use it, so why can't we?"