After years of being on the air and becoming known for his controversial thoughts, Bill Maher completely crossed the line last week when he dropped the n-word on his Real Time TV show. Maher quickly apologized after facing heavy backlash from the public, with some people even demanding that HBO fire him (though the network didn’t). And this week, rapper Ice Cube dropped by to “school” Maher on racism and the n-word.
During a live taping of Bill Maher’s show on June 9th, Maher referred to himself as a “house n—er” while interviewing Republican Sen. Ben Sasse from Nebraska.
Maher apologized to Ice Cube, who accepted the apology, but then gave his own thoughts on the matter. Said Cube,
Ice Cube added that the slur is “like a knife. You can use it as a weapon or you can use it as a tool. It’s been used as a weapon against us by white people, and we’re not gonna let that happen again by nobody, because it’s not cool. It’s in the lexicon, everybody talk it, but it’s our word now. You can’t have it back.”
“When I hear my homies say it, it don’t feel like venom,” the rapper continued. “When I hear a white person say it, it feels like that knife stabbing me, even if they don’t mean it.”
Ice Cube has never shied away from discussing political issues, going all the way back to his days with N.W.A. The rapper and actor appeared on Maher’s show to promote a special edition re-release of his Death Certificate album on its 25th anniversary, but obviously couldn’t pass up the opportunity to address the elephant in the room.
Also on the panel was Symone Sanders, former press secretary to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who shared some valuable gems about Maher’s transgression. She said she agrees with all that Cube stated, but went on to address the importance of context and the effects of the n-word on Black women.
Maher continued to make ill-timed jokes, but seemed genuinely sorry at the end of the discussion. While it’s not the responsibility of any marginalized group to educate their oppressors, we are glad that spaces like these exist where we can have open conversations. The future is a little brighter for it, kids.