This Week in Black Twitter: Dissecting the N-word and shining a light on sexual assault

Comedian Larry Wilmore calls Obama the N-word at the #WHCD, eliciting a range of reactions.

Welcome back to This Week in Black Twitter, your weekly digest of the happenings on Black Twitter and cultural conversations on the Web. Topics will span the gamut — with pop culture, politics, sports, lifestyles and everything in between. This week: Comedian Larry Wilmore calls President Barack Obama the N-word at the #WHCD, shining a light on sexual assault at historically black colleges and universities, and users post tributes to the late Afeni Shakur.

1. After the White House Correspondents' Dinner, it seems as though there was only one thing people were talking — the N-word.

In concluding his speech at the formal event, comedian Larry Wilmore said the loaded word to President Barack Obama, which you should watch here. (Also, apparently Barry is Obama's nickname. Who knew.)

Reactions ranged from “How dare he reference the leader of the free world like that” to “YAS, *insert black fist emoji here*.”

The incident inspired a range of think pieces — some arguing it marked a generational shift in black culture and that it made them feel black pride, while others said the president deserved more respect.

Piers Morgan, who made headlines just last week for his unpopular opinion about Beyonce, condemned the use of the word.

In his response to Morgan's criticism, Wilmore emphasized the distinction between the N-word ending with -er and the N-word ending with -a.

"Piers, you did not properly conjugate that slur," the "Nightly Show" host said. One term "is what white people use to denigrate, demean, and dehumanize black people." The colloquial expression "is a term of endearment some black people use between each other to take back that power," Wilmore argued.

#OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign had an interesting take, arguing that Wilmore's send-off was important for the community.


2. On Monday, an anonymous Twitter user using the account @RapedAtSpelman detailed an alleged gang rape, bringing sexual assault at HBCUs to a forefront.

In a series of tweets, the woman recounted an alleged rape by students at Morehouse College, an all-male HBCU that touts its brother-sister relationship with Spelman, an all-female HBCU.

“We are committed to working with the entire Morehouse community to examine the cultural norms that underscore and perhaps exacerbate this difficult issue,” John Silvanus Wilson Jr., Morehouse’s president, said in a statement addressing the tweets.

Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell issued a letter to the community: “My first priority as Spelman’s president is to continue ensuring that Spelman and the Atlanta University Center offer a safe, supportive environment for all students. Please know that we are working together to foster a culture and climate that assure fair, swift and consistent adjudication of reported cases of sexual violence.”   

Both schools will be investigating the allegations.

According to her account, she filed a report and completed a rape kit. Then after one month, Spelman got back to her.

@RapedAtSpelman's story sparked protests on campus.

While the anonymous user received words of encouragement and support...

Some were defensive of the institution, arguing that it blames all Morehouse men.

Despite criticisms of #RapedByMorehouse, users continued to further the conversation about rape culture and sexual assault within the African-American community.


3. Afeni Shakur, the woman who inspired Tupac Shakur's "Dear Mama," died Monday.

Although birthing perhaps the greatest rapper who ever lived is an accomplishment in its own, it's not the only legacy Afeni Shakur left behind. She was a community organizer and member of the Black Panther Party.

Tupac's estate released a statement, which included lyrics to the touching song about Afeni and Tupac's relationship.

For some, it will never sound the same.

With Mother's Day approaching, I hope you play "Dear Mama" in honor of Afeni Shakur and black mothers everywhere.

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