Backtalk with D. L. Hughley

Stand-up comedian and actor D.L. Hughley isnt one to shy away from hot-button topics

ONE OF THE ORIGINAL KINGS OF COMEDY, standup comedian and actor D.L. Hughley isn’t one to shy away from hot-button topics. Taking a stab at news, politics, and the like, his “unconventional” weekly show D.L. Breaks the News debuted last fall on CNN. Thrown smack in the middle of one of the most exciting election years in recent history, the 45-year-old put his colorful, and sometimes skewed, humor on current events. This month, Black Enterprise catches up with the funnyman and gets his commentary on the economy, President-elect Barack Obama, and what he really thinks—or at least used to think—about America.

How do you think the U.S. economy tanking and the domino effect that followed made a difference in the way Americans voted in the election?
Leading up to the election, things were so bad that people knew the old way wouldn’t work anymore. Voters were looking for change. And for some, old white men represented the old way. It’s a bad time to be an old white politician right now.

You say voters wanted change, but you admit that you didn’t think Obama would win. Did race contribute to your cynicism?
I didn’t believe Obama could win or that America would elect a black as president. And now I feel ashamed of that. We are turning around as a country and I’m really proud to be an American. I’ve always loved my country, still it was never about how I loved it, but how it felt about me.

Many people saw Obama’s victory as a turning point for blacks in America. Did you see it that way as well?
The moment I heard he’d won, I felt a lot of things all at once: happy, relieved, proud, and sad. One of the reasons I felt sad was because of the view I’d had of America for years. Whenever I’d hear someone say, ‘You can be anything you want to be in America!’ I would always smirk and say, ‘Yeah, right.’ This country has forever been viewed by the world as a ‘whites only’ place. Blacks were viewed as second-class citizens who could only go so far. That idea of America is dead to me now. I think
America is a place where you can be anything you want to be, which is amazing.

Some argue that now blacks and other minorities have no excuse for not achieving what they want to achieve. What are your thoughts?
A lot of people were achieving great things before Obama was elected. I think that there are people who won’t be affected and there are people who will. The bottom line is that people have always found a way to be successful. I think that if we focus on education and being proud to be educated, and if we focus on fathers and being fathers, a lot of the other ancillary problems would go away. However, it’s unrealistic to believe that change is going to happen quickly.

Do you see Obama’s presidency as a sign that racism in America has ended?
No, because at

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  • xolile

    Hi my name is xolile and i’m from south africa.And i read you informative magazine online.I enjoy your articles especially about us.
    Because as a black and liberated as i am as a young black african i am still marginalised especially when it comes to job opportunities.Affirmative action is a lip service and is nothing but window dressing in the corporate world.Your views are overlooked no matter how acute they can i concur with the article above and also would like to say.a black man would always have to stride more no matter how educated he is to prove himself.i think it’s time as we can do for us to trade among ourselves and start to trust ourselves as a people and as a nation.would President Obama and soon to be inagurated South African president Jacob Zuma make a difference in our lives as a people and as a nation well i’ll wait and see..