How The Reaction To Larry Wilmore's "Nigga" Drop At The WHCD Was Peak White Tears, Explained

Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images
Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images

Who is Barack Obama?

From 2008 to 2015, Barack Obama was the President of the United States. Now, however, he is the Grand Supreme Wizard of Nofucksistan. He presides over a land encompassed of fields and fields and fields of no fucks as far as thine eyes can see; cities with names like "Nah" and "ILeftMyLastFuckin2014"; beautiful trees ripe with no fucks fruit, and harvests that produce bountiful new crops of no fucks every quarter.

So he's no longer the President of the United States?

He still is. A great part about being Grand Supreme Wizard of Nofucksistan is that you can hold that position while still holding other occupations. Solange Knowles, for instance, was the previous Grand Supreme Wizard while also maintaining a thriving career as a recording artist, Instagram muse, and amateur kickboxer.


What is the White House Correspondents Dinner?

It's an annual event where the President and the press gather to laugh at jokes and roast the President. But since President Obama is Grand Supreme Wizard of Nofucksistan, he's somewhat impervious to roasting. Sure, there were digs directed at him during the night, but you can't really roast someone who left his last fuck in a kitchen cupboard in a timeshare duplex at Deep Creek Lake.

Instead, he took the opportunity to roast Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and others with lines like "I was running on CPT, which stands for jokes that white people should not make" and jabs at candidates who "didn't poll high enough to earn a joke" — which is basically the presidential equivalent of "all you other cats throwing shots at Jigga, you only get half a bar — fuck y'all niggas."

And, to remind everyone of his new occupation, he ended his set by literally dropping the mic.

I see. Well, who is Larry Wilmore?

Larry Wilmore is my nigga.

That's it? He's just your nigga?

I mean, he's the host of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and he was the host of this year's White House Correspondents Dinner. But, first and foremost, he's my nigga.


So you know him personally?

We've met once before but I wouldn't exactly say we know each other.

So how is he your nigga?

Because any nigga who ends his set at the White House Correspondents Dinner with "Yo, Barry, you did it my nigga!" is my nigga too.

He really said that in front of all those White people?

Yes. He really did.

What was the reaction?

You know how, even after Steph Curry hurt his knee, everyone knew the Warriors would still beat the Rockets because the Rockets have the chemistry of a dumpster fire sitting on a bigger dumpster fire?



Well, the reaction to Wilmore's nigga drop was similarly predictable. Black people (mostly) loved it. And White people were (mostly) split into two camps.


1. The "that was a funny line that, although I could never actually say it, Wilmore — who happens to be Black — is actually allowed to say about our Black president because the use of that word is complex; so complex that I'll just refrain from saying it and let Black people determine when it can and can't be used" camp

2. The "that offended me" camp. Which is conjoined twins with the "I'm a White person and I believe Black people shouldn't say that word" camp and the "if they can say it, why can't I say it?" camp.


All things considered, this moment was Peak White Tears.

Peak White Tears? How so?

You had White people upset that a Black comedian referred to a Black president with a word that only Black people are allowed to use. My God! There are so many levels of Blackness and capital letter Whiteness here — surreal and literal; historically contextual and currently culturally relevant; meta and "motherfucka!" inducing — that this was a White Tears event horizon.


Don't you think the people upset have a point?


I mean, from a logical standpoint, isn't it hypocritical for Black people to use that word and then get upset if a non-Black person uses it?



Well, don't you think…

You don't have to keep rephrasing your question. Because the answer will always be no. Unless I change things up and throw a "nope" or a "nah" or a "nigga?" in there.



Well, I already wrote a primer on the use, usage, versatility, and utility of nigga last year. But just in case you didn't read it, here's the most pertinent part:

What’s the first rule of nigga use?

Make sure you’re a Black person first.

What's the second most pertinent part?

Good question!

This might seem complicated, but most Black people — at least most Black veteran users of nigga — understand this. It’s intuitive, and this goes back to the point about the level of nuance with nigga use and usage. It’s a complicated word — perhaps the English language’s most complicated word — and to use it rightly means that you’ve received enough nigga-use education to understand that. Basically, you’ve earned it.


Actually, you'll have to excuse me for a moment now.

Why? What happened?

All this talk of niggas and nigga love and nigga jokes in front of shocked White audiences and Peak White Tears is making me verklempt. Do you have a tissue?



*sniffles* Thanks, nigga.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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I'm not in either of your camps Damon, but I've always been an outlier anyway.

I have looked forward to the WHCD for several years and usually enjoy the ribbing folks get. But, this man, Larry (no I don't know who he is and could not care less. (I don't watch a lot of television.)), he was NOT funny. I might have chuckled at maybe two remarks he made late in his diatribe, but the rest? Just uncouth. Yes, that's my opinion of his fcukery at the WHCD; uncouth.

His 'jokes' about killing a terrorist or dropping bombs was NOT funny. His last remark was offensive in that some folks do not find the use of that word in any form 'funny' and particularly when speaking to the President of the United States. To you, maybe the use of that word shows respect. To me, it was not respectful, particularly used at such an event.

So, if those are white tears, whatever. I call it respect for the office the man holds, which has been a STRUGGLE for President Obama for seven fucking years. So, Larry can take his uncouth a s s and sit down somewhere. I want my President to be respected, and when folks talk to him like that, especially during a public event, it degrades the office he holds.