The 'N' Crowd
In approximately six months, the history books will turn its final page and close forever on the last eight years of American leadership under the reigns and watchful gaze of our nation's first Black president, Barack Obama.
Different people will remember Mr. Obama by many different names:
Commander in chief.
Liar, if you are Joe Wilson.
Or if you are Larry Wilmore, MY NIGGA.
At least that is what Wilmore, comedian and host of Comedy Central's The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, referred to Mr. Obama as at this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner. While watching what felt more like a lost episode of Comic View than a black tie affair for Hollywood and Washington D.C.'s celebrity, media and political elite, President Obama does what he normally does at these functions, act a Black ass fool. But as this year marks the president's last time in the roast pit and as another stop on the Obama's Last Fuck to Give Tour, the level of negritude on display was Wesley Snipes' knuckles level Black complete with a Randy Watson mic drop by your president at the end of his remarks.
Mr. Wilmore followed Barack Omarion, delivering a scathing set on elitism, racism, the multiple levels of fuck shit the media engages in on a 24/7 cable news cycle basis and of course, the Life and Times of President Barry O Volume 2. He then threw this room full of stodgy White people and Black people who forgot they ate pig feet as children for a deeper uncomfortable loop by calling the leader of the free world "my nigga."
The backlash against Wilmore appeared faster than Hillary Clinton at a Tootsie Roll contest on Election Day in Compton. White people were upset and felt as though the word nigga is offensive and like Motions Hair Lotion and Shea Butter, if they can't use it, it has no place in the world. Black people were offended yet divided, understandably, because of the historical origin of the word "nigger" in America and not so understandably, because Larry said "dat there word in front of good white folks and now weeze gots ta worry about hows day is gonna look at us." Everyone pick a side.
It's hard out here for the word "nigga." Some people love you, some people hate you. People use you without understanding your past. But, this isn't a post about whether or not the word "nigga" should be banned. The issue at hand is whether or not Larry should have called the president his nigga. I mean, what if Obama is really his NIGGA though?!
In order to get to the bottom of this, we need to answer one question...
Is Obama my nigga?
Well, let's follow the criteria many follow when considering "Is your nigga, your nigga?"
Is Obama Black?
Yes. I wasn't sure at first, but based on how Congress has treated him like a negro that doesn't know his uppity ass place and the numerous votes the toothless and inbred base of the Republican party have cast for Donald Trump, I am certain he is indeed family. Being Black is the first requirement.
Are you Black?
The last time I checked my credit score, yes.
Would you let Obama eat at your mama's house on Thanksgiving?
Yes, but only if I can slide through to Michelle's mama's wing of the White House for a slice of Sweet Potato pie and mac and cheese after we leave my mama's house. I know that shit is bomb. Marian be cooking.
Would you let Obama drive your car to a job interview?
Hell yeah. That's my nigga!
With no license?
Yup. That's my nigga.
What if it was your mama's car?
Nigga, now you buggin'...
Can you trust Obama around your girl?
Yes. But you can't trust your girl around Obama.
Is Obama loyal?
Well, every time I turn on the news I see him fighting with Congress for the rights of American people. No matter what is thrown at him, he always seems to stand his ground and fight hard for his vision for this country. His loyalties are clearly tied to the American people. Which is dope considering how our last president's loyalties were tied to deez nuts. Which leads me to my next question...
Does Obama have my back?
If it weren't for Black people, there would be no President Obama. We stood in line for hours to vote the first Black President into office back in 2008. The last time I saw a group of Black people line up for something so quickly was for the "Cha-Cha Slide" at my Aunt Bunny's 40th wedding anniversary. And just like then, we were all synchronized and in formation.
Simply put, if even for one moment in time, we as a people knew that in order for this man to be elected and literally survive, WE HAD TO HAVE HIS BACK. And when it came time for him to return the favor, Obama has ALWAYS had our backs. He brought the tragedy of the murder of Trayvon Martin into the living rooms and dinner tables of every American family by saying that if he had a son he would look like Trayvon, we live in a world free of Osama Bin Laden, he understands the implications of being Black man in America and the balancing act that we all have played at times in order to survive and is not afraid to speak on it.
Sure, he has had a few missteps along the way, but overall I believe President Obama always has my back.
Does President Obama put some respeck on your name?
Every time I see him and his beautiful family, representing my people in a light so elegant, regal and stunning, I feel like an extra dollop of respeck is put on my name and on the name and image of Black people in this country as a whole. No, we are not all the Obamas, but there is something beautiful about this family. There is a fictive kinship I feel for the president.
When I see this Black man succeed, it makes me feel like I can succeed. It makes me feel like we all can succeed. The love he shows his daughters. The respect he has for his wife and her individuality, never intimidated, but comfortable in his own skin as she is comfortable in hers. The president makes me proud to be a Black man and proud to be an American. He puts respeck on all of our names by the example he sets. I root for him the way I root for all of my niggas. Because they are my niggas, and I want to see them win. Obama wants to see me win. I believe that.
Damn... I guess the president really is my nigga.
Watch this before reading any further.
I'm with Marc.
The White people who are mad, or uncomfortable? Get over it.
I am uncomfortable every day as Black man in this country, sometimes because my drawls are too small, but mostly because my every move, thought and action is policed and weighed against what makes sense to a group of people who do not look like me.
You are mad because your desire to appropriate everything we possess has finally met its match as the buck and the fucks stop here. Normally, white people are able to stake a claim on the talents and contributions of Black people and strip it of all of its identity and claim it as their own, like America. But this word they can't take and they hate it. In turn, instead of dealing with the history of institutionalized racism that they shrouded this country in from birth, they would rather police the usage of a word they created as a tool of oppression by the culture they attempted to destroy.
Why would you even want to say "nigga," white people? If you are really a racial progressive, why would you want to use this word that your great grandfathers used as they raped, lynched, murdered and sold Black people to the highest bidder? Isn't that anti progressive? I can say nigga. You can't and that is that. Get over it.
And to the Black people who are mad, I will say this: If we are ever going to get our shit together as Black people, we have got to stop caring about how our actions make White people feel.
Whether that feeling is happy, sad, uncomfortable, horny or whatever the feeling is, we have to stop limiting our actions and moving with their feelings in mind because they certainly do not move with our feelings or concerns in mind at all. From gentrification, creating food deserts, killing unarmed black kids to now this insatiable desire to stop Black people from using the word nigga, not because the word is offensive but because they are offended they cannot use it, the indicators are clear that they do not need our blessing or approval to do, take, seek or destroy anything.
If we are ever going to get our shit together as Black people, we have got to stop caring about how our actions make White people feel.
And yes, I understand the history behind the word nigga. And yes, I understand that some Black people opt not to use the word because of those historical implications and the pain, blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors that abide within each letter of the origin word, nigger. I don't fault you for your non use and I completely understand and I agree that the word nigger is a vile and disgusting word. However, I understand the context in which the bastardized version of the word, "nigga," is used. I understand its familial meaning.
I understand the Lemonade produced from a lemon of a word. I also understand how sad it is that Black people have so little in this country that we can call our own that we had to take this word and make it ours and now we have to fight to keep it. That's a fight I'm willing to suit up for. We took the power from the word and made it our ours. It is not a word that should be used flippantly. It's not much but damnit it is ours.
In that moment, the president and Wilmore represented the irony that is being a Black man in America. Two Black men at the top of their games and careers, standing as the center of attention in the grand ballroom of the Washington Hilton, a hotel that 50 years ago, they would have never been able to stay in. Both of them the man of the hour. In front of this crowd full of people whose industries have done everything to tear them and people who look like them down, the media, the news, Hollywood. Two Black men that have defied odds and have been called every nigger, discriminated against and told they would never amount to anything because of the color of their skin. There is a connection there that only a select few can understand.
Would you have called the president your nigga on live TV though Paul? Keep it real...
Hell no! Broke as I am...I don't have the money to do that. That's rich nigga bravery. I am content keeping my broke ass mullings right here on paper. I use the word "nigga." Avidly. But unlike the way alot of parents send their kids dressed for the prom, I think there is a time and place for everything. Including the word nigga, which should be reserved for people you are familiar with and that are familiar with you. But that's me. Larry has more money than I do.
So if Larry Wilmore wants to call the president his nigga -- guess what -- he can. Because -- guess what -- they are two niggas that made it.
President Obama is Larry's nigga, he is my nigga, and he is your nigga, too.
Unless you are White.
A version of this post originally appeared on Medium.