A week after HBO’s Bill Maher came under fire for calling himself on a “house n—a,” he tried to attone for his sins. Granted Maher did apologize for using the racial slur, but we all know that wasn’t enough.
So on Friday’s episode, he hosted a mega Black panel that included Ice Cube, former Bernie Sanders press secretary Symone Sanders and Black cultural critic Michael Eric Dyson. And it was clear from get that the show’s goal was to be a teachable moment not just for Maher, but for other white folks who clearly need to be taught—again— that under no circumstances should they use that word period.
And by the looks of it, Ice Cube so brilliantly communicated that lesson.
While Ice Cube told the host that he “loved his show,” there were definitely times when Maher would “[buck] up against that line a little bit” with his “Black jokes.”
“Sometimes you sound like a redneck trucker,” he joked.
Then things got really real.
Cube reminded Maher that having past Black girlfriends and Black friends can give white people the false impression that they get a pass.
“I still think you need to get to the root of the psyche because I think there’s a lot of guys out there who cross the line because they’re a little too familiar, or they think they’re too familiar. Or, it’s guys that, you know, might have a black girlfriend or two that made them some Kool-Aid every now and then, and then they think they can cross the line. And they can’t. You know, it’s a word that has been used against us. It’s like a knife, man. You can use it as a weapon or you can use it as a tool. It’s when you use it as a weapon against us, by white people. And we’re not going to let that happen again by nobody because it’s not cool. Now, I know you heard, it’s in the lexicon and everybody’s talking, but that’s our word now. That’s our word now, and you can’t have it back.”
He also described the feelings of violence and rage that Black people have when they hear the n- word leaves the lips of whites people.
“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.”
Sadly, it didn’t seem that Maher appeared very defensive and standoffish, when he should have been more receptive.
Case in point: When Cube said “I think this is a teachable moment, not just to you but to the people who are watching right now.”
“I think the people who are watching right now are saying: that point has been made,” Maher said, clearly aggravated.
“Not by me,” Cube snapped.
Folks were definitely here for Cube’s critique and had plenty of side eyes for Maher’s behavior:
In addition, Sanders stressed that Maher’s use of the slur was insulting to Black women given the history of sexual assault Black female slaves endured.
“As a white person in America, you would’ve been the master, the slave owner… It was mostly black women who were enslaved in the house, who were raped, who were beaten daily, day in and day out. They endured physical and mental abuse. For a lot of people in America, that was like slap in the face to black America, particularly to black women.” she explained.
Again, Maher seemed to ignore her:
Watch the entire clip here: