Sasheer Zamata Deconstructs Public Reaction to Larry Wilmore’s N-word on ‘SNL’

By Sameer Rao May 09, 2016

"Saturday Night Live" did something pretty rare this weekend: it employed one of its few performers of color for a non-character-driven sketch. Rarely-featured cast member Sasheer Zamata appeared during the "Weekend Update" news segment and addressed Larry Wilmore‘s controversial use of "nigga" at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

"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 on Saturday (May 7) night. "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 proceeded with an analogy where she replaced the n-word with "McGriddle" to discuss the term’s roots in White supremacy. She also discussed an incident from her past:

I was walking down the street with a friend and this dirty pickup truck comes barrelling down the road, and this man yells, "Y’all McGriddles need to get on a boat and take your Black asses back to McDonalds." … But he was old-school racist, and at least he was upfront about it. That’s how I like my racists: easily identifiable. These days, people won’t publicly say the "McG word," but they’ll say thinly veiled words like "thug," or "ghetto" or "athletic." … 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."

When "Weekend Update" co-host Colin Jost, who is White, asked if this meant others could use the word, Zamata responded, "It’s up to you, nigga."

Zamata previously tweeted praise for Wilmore’s use of the n-word.

Check out the full bit above.

(H/t Entertainment Weekly