DL Hughley talks to The Washington Informer during the Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association’s awards dinner on Nov. 18. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

DL (Darryl Lynn) Hughley, best known as the original host of BET’s ComicView and one of the “Big Four” comedians among The Original Kings of Comedy, recently visited the District to host an event at The National Press Club in Northwest.

Hughley, 58, an accomplished actor, producer, political commentary, radio host, author and comedian, hosted the Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association’s (MMCA) sixth awards dinner on Nov. 18.

The invitation-only gathering of media influencers, policymakers, executives and corporate and advocacy organization allies showcased the accomplishments of Black, Indigenous and People of Color [BIPOC] media industry legends and luminaries who continue to pave the way for the next generation.

Media stakeholders, including WI Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes, attended a BIPOC media development session earlier that day.

MMCA President David Morgan and his board members presented awards to the following: Paula Madison (principal owner, The Africa Channel; chairman/CEO, Madison Media Management LLC), Media Luminary Honoree; Sara Kehaulani Goo (editor-in-chief, Axios), News Publication Honoree; Enrique Santos (president/CCO, iHeart Latino), Radio Broadcast Honoree; and Harris Faulkner, (Emmy Award-Winning anchor, Fox News Channel), Television Broadcast Honoree.

After congratulating Hughley on the success of his latest venture, “Johnson,” a dramedy developed by executive producers Cedric the Entertainer and Eric C. Rhone in which he cuts his comedic chops as the uncle of one of four Black men, childhood “besties,” Hughley sat down to address issues of tantamount concern which confront today’s African-American community.

Washington Informer: You’re here in support of MMCA and the great work they’re doing. But many people continue to discount both the importance of multiculturalism in media and the relevance of the Black Press. What are your views?

DL Hughley: Diversity is important in all aspects not just from a vanity standpoint but because it’s the only way society can really begin to evolve. Cities, workplaces and juries all do better and are better when they’re diverse because with diversity there’s the opportunity for more intentional deliberation. So, it matters and it’s paramount as it allows for the inclusion of everyone’s perspective.

WI: Our publication recently celebrated our 57th year of service. And there are other members of the Black Press, like the Chicago Defender, the New Pittsburgh Courier and The Miami Times, who have been around even longer. I grew up with the Michigan Chronicle in Detroit. But many people, including some Blacks, tend to ignore the work we do. Where do you see the Black Press moving forward and is the Black Press still needed and important for America?

DLH: A lot of times, the Black Press is the only way we hear about stories that concern us. When I grew up, you couldn’t go into a house where they didn’t have Black newspapers, globes, maps and the World Book Encyclopedia – at least part of it. We’ve always had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, probably because we refused to be misled like we once were. Ironically, at a time when Blacks need clarity and understanding and have access to a wealth of information, we don’t trust the media. We’ve done all we can to kill truth. Now, in the midst of a pandemic and other disturbing situations that continue to arise all across the U.S. and lacking a true stabilizing force that ensures a reasonable chance to get consistent and objective information, the Black Press is needed even more than ever before.

WI: I recently wrote a first-person commentary about Dave Chappelle and the controversy surrounding his latest show. I remember Dick Gregory once emphasizing the importance of Black reporters remaining on the cutting edge of issues that we face in society — similar to what comedians seek to achieve as they develop their monologues. Still, I wonder if there are or should be taboo topics for comedians.

DLH: Comedy has no master other than the artist him or herself. For Dave, he gained more fans than he lost and the movement that attempted to silence him lost more than it gained. No one likes to be the butt of jokes but that’s how comedy works. But some employees from Netflix, and those from among the transgender community, seemed to want reparations. White people asked a Black man for reparations. Look, Chappelle is a comedian – he’s not Thomas Jefferson. Much like you as a journalist, I, in my profession, seek to find that line of consistent truth. Despite being trained differently, we both want to achieve the same thing: we’re looking for ways to say what we see.

WI: Tell us about your battle with COVID-19 and what you learned from that unfortunate experience.

DLH: I changed a lot. It made me very aware of the disparities within medicine and healthcare. I also realized how fortunate I am and realized that I had to become an advocate, to the extent that I can, for those who have no one to speak for them. As for COVID-19, when I hear folks say they’ve done their research, which many got off the internet and then they become infected, it’s tragic. Only then do they understand that TikTok ain’t got no hospitals.

Americans need a trusted source for the news. We need to know the real deal but we’ve allowed the truth to be effectively smothered. People would rather editorialize instead of giving the unvarnished truth. But there’s a price to pay for doing that; we’re paying the price now. We tell people what they want to hear rather than tell it like it is. America leads the world in the number of infections and deaths from COVID-19 because we’re free, fat and poorly informed. We’re bad at math and bad at dieting. COVID-19 opened my eyes both to the disparities that continue to exist and how far too many Americans remain reluctant to process things correctly and accurately. Everything bad happens worse for and to Americans and that’s because of our refusal to listen to, to admit and then deal with the truth.

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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