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Larry Wilmore, Common, Charles Blow & More Chop It Up On 'The Nightly Show's' Black Fatherhood Panel

Larry Wilmore Common Charles Blow Nightly Show Black Fatherhood Panel

Since The Nightly Show began airing on Comedy Central last month the candor of late night TV has changed ever-so-slightly. Host Larry Wilmore had previously served as The Daily Show's "Senior Black Correspondent," and now that he's been given a program of his own from which to deliver dishes on current events, there's been no backing down when it comes to racial politics. The Nightly Showcharged straight ahead into the issue of Bill Cosby's rape allegations (albeit mainly for the sake of comedy) on its second episode, and before that addressed "The State of the Black Protest" in its inaugural airing.

"To the extent that a comedy show is about anything," The New Yorker wrote, The Nightly Show is indeed largely about race." Willmore has drawn both flack and acclaim for putting black issues front and center, and his extended panel discussions are already becoming a mainstay of the program. That continued earlier this week when The Nightly Show brought Common, New York Times columnist Charles Blow, founder of the Center for URban FamiliesJoe Jones and show regular comedian Mike Yard. In an episode entirely devoted to the issue of Black Fatherhood in America, Wilmore skipped his opening monologue, and instead began by posing a startling fact: 72 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers.

Wilmore's panel was a success in that it further complicated and examined that statistic. With every man at the table himself a black father, the group kept (mostly) serious and on task, digging into the joys and pitfalls of parenthood. "What we don't get with that number is the context," Blow asserted, "which is: married black women used to have more children than even white women. Their rate of childbirth has dropped tremendously, so that leaves unmarried black women having more." (Blow himself recently dealt with obstacles in his hard work to raise his children after his son (who attends Yale) was wrongfully pulled over and arrested at gunpoint, a victim of racial police profiling.) Still, Blow keeps his eternal cool throughout the segment, and offers numerous salient points--specifically a critique of the war on drugs and mass incarcerations--on why black men appear, on paper, to be often removed from their families' lives.

"It definitely hit me hard," Common said of the 72 percent number. "I didn't expect it to be that high," he admitted before making a crucial point: unwed does not guarantee absence. "Across demographic groups, family types are changing. The whole culture's changing," Jones added. "I don't know that we've accounted for the way this shift has taken place," the community organizer added.

The Nightly Show, though, is at its heart a comedy show and in its second Black Fatherhood panel segment, Wilmore reprised his "Keep it 100" routine, putting each man on the spot and asking hot-button questions about women, children and (what else?) the Super Bowl. When asked whether he would be present for the birth of his baby or seize the chance to play in the big game, Common smirked and replied "Is it my first child?" before admitting he'd be playing pigskin. Wilmore also posed the lightning round question "Are black women bossy?" You'll have to watch the second clip to get the answer to that one.

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