At last weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, host Larry Wilmore ended his set of jokes by calling President Barack Obama “my n—-.” The remark was criticized by political pundits on both sides of the aisle, but not Sasheer Zamata. The Saturday Night Live cast member praised Wilmore for the joke on her Twitter account last week, and then hit Weekend Update during Saturday’s SNL episode to address the uproar around Wilmore’s N-word usage..
“Here’s the thing: there were more white people upset than black people, and the white people are the reason why that word is bad,” Zamata said during the segment. She later added, “I’m amazed this is the first time someone has called him the N-word on TV. People have called the president the N-word online for years. Just look at the comments sections on videos of him playing basketball or pardoning a turkey or… a cat video.”
Zamata then explained how the N-word carries so much weight because of its connection to slavery. “If the word McGriddle was linked to slavery, we’d feel differently about that word too,” she said, before recalling the only time she had ever been called the N-word in public and discussing some other words have have become synonymous with the racial slur.
“These days people won’t publicly say the ‘McG word,’ but they’ll say thinly veiled words like ‘thug’ or ‘ghetto’ or ‘athletic,'” Zamata said, again subbing in “McGriddle” for the N-word. “I don’t know if we’re ever going to agree on the usage of that word. I do know that word has a lot of history behind it, and if we ignore it, it feels like we’re ignoring the history. And I don’t like to ignore history.”
Asked by Weekend Update cohost Colin Jost if that meant people could say the N-word, Zamata replied, “It’s up to you, n—-.”
Watch the segment below.