Jon Stewart And Larry Wilmore Bravely Reclaim Huck Finn And The ‘N-Word’ For Comedy Gold

Some have suggested that the election of Barack Obama was an indication that we are now in a post-racial America. Perhaps a better indication is the following segment from The Daily Show, in which host Jon Stewart talks with “Senior Black Correspondent” Larry Wilmore about the recent decision to publish Twain’s classic Huckleberry Finn with the n-word replaced by “slave.” Wilmore opened his comment by congratulated the fictional character Jim “on his promotion from nigger to slave,” which he surmised was like “going from the WB to UPN.” What followed was a litany of n-word references that transcended the discomfort of the word, bravely reclaiming the word as a comedic prop.

The whole segment was a brilliant deconstruction of the power and meaning of an historically very ugly word. At one point an exasperated Stewart yelled “it’s uncomfortable” to which Wilmore replied “And it should be!” adding, “look, Mark Twain put that word in there for a reason. The n-word speaks to a society that casually dehumanized black people, ‘slave’ was just a job description.” Word.

Watch the segment below from Comedy Central:

(Edit note – the original post featured Wilmore’s quote with an asterisk in the n-word. It’s since been changed to reflect the actual word in the spirit of the segment.)

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