Larry Wilmore Talks "Mixed Reaction" for Using N-Word After White House Says Obama Not Offended

Andrew Hetherington
Larry Wilmore

On his Comedy Central show Monday night, Wilmore noted: "Like the president himself, the reaction was mixed."

The White House said President Barack Obama wasn't offended by comedian Larry Wilmore's use of a racial slur at Saturday night's White House Correspondents' Dinner.

During the dinner, Wilmore ended his remarks by noting progress on race and how much it meant to him that a black man was president. He concluded: "Yo Barry, you did it, my n----. You did it."

The reaction online was swift.

On Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he had talked with Obama, and that the president appreciated the spirit of racial progress Wilmore was trying to convey.

Earnest said the White House didn't see Wilmore's speech beforehand. Earnest also said he's confident Wilmore used the word by design and was seeking to be provocative.

Still, he said, any fair reading makes it clear that Wilmore's sentiments of racial progress "came from a genuine place."

Monday night, Wilmore, on his Comedy Central program The Nightly Show, noted: "Like the president himself, the reaction was mixed," a joking reference to Obama's black father and white mother.

"I completely understand why people would be upset," Wilmore said. ''It's a very charged word — I get it."

He said one critic, former CNN host Piers Morgan, had misquoted him by saying Wilmore used the word ending in "er," which is "what white people use to denigrate, demean and dehumanize black people."

Instead, Wilmore pointed out he used it ending in "a," which he said was a "term of endearment some black people use between each other to take back that power" of the word.

"That’s horrible! I would never do that," he continued. "Piers, you did not properly conjugate that slur. Very important."

Watch Wilmore's White House Correspondents' Dinner remarks below.