Still thinking about Bill Maher’s use of the “n” word. (I hate calling it that. It appears cowardly).
I’ve always been of the opinion that the word, when used in a certain context, is not inherently offensive nor racist. That context is one where the actual word, its genesis, or its etymology, is being discussed, as compared to using it to describe another human being. I have never used it to describe any person, nor do I ever intend to. I used it extensively in my book Black, White and Grey, and, to date, have received no complaints.
But Maher was using it ironically, calling himself “the house n—–“. He was using the word as it had been used extensively during slavery and was doing so to describe himself in that context.
Yeah, I know, it’s always a slippery slope when you venture down that road, like when Don Imus tried to appropriate black speech by calling some women “nappy-headed hoes”. It wasn’t his place to try identify with another race by using their vernacular, and Maher is apparently guilty of the same thing.
When white people venture to show how much they “get it” by appropriating the language or cultural mores of black people, they always end up sounding like Al Gore trying to rap. It’s always a better idea to stop trying to sound like something with which you truly have little familiarity.
There is a black culture and there is a white culture. Leave them that way.