Bill Maher, The N-Word, and the message we missed.

Bill Maher apologized for his use of the n-word. This week Maher had Professor/Author Michael Eric Dyson on to discuss.

It is important to note the following:

·        The intention for Bill Maher was for the statement to be a humorous quip

·        Bill Maher did not put much thought into the use of the word, but said it flippantly as a performing comedian often does.

·        Bill Maher is not racist.

·        It was appropriate and necessary for Bill Maher to apologize and, in the words of Michael Eric Dyson, this is a teachable moment.

Yes, the intention and the context are important. Maher wanted to be clear that the word was not said in malice and I think almost everyone agrees with that. No, Bill Maher is not a racist and I do not think we should cancel his show.

No, that shouldn’t be the end of the conversation.

The use of the word when white people use it is like a weapon. How do I know? Because last  night Ice Cube said “It’s not cool because when I hear my homie say it, it don’t feel like venom. When I hear a white person say it, it feel like that knife stabbing you even if they don’t mean it to.”

I think a person would have to assume that they know how all black people feel if they see no problems with white people using the n-word jokingly or they understand that it causes some black people pain and do not care to discipline themselves to avoid that.

One day I hope the word means nothing. I hope that anyone can hear it and shrug it off. Unfortunately, that day is not here yet and until then we should be mindful of how our words affect other humans.

The point that Michael Eric Dyson was making is that there is still history, pain, and insensitivity behind the use of the n-word, regardless of intent. 

Finally, fellow liberals, in my opinion, it will be easier to spread the message if we approach the issue in the same manner as Michael Eric Dyson. Yelling “racist!” or “cancel his show!” is only going to strengthen the “ya’ll are snowflakes” rhetoric and get us absolutely nowhere.

To hear the conversation:


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