Bill Maher's a reasonable man. His points are well thought out, and he ALMOST always articulates them as such. He of course MEANT no ill will by his "joke," but the social dialogue it has sparked is one we've heard hundreds of times and I fear it stems from a lack of understanding. Unfortunately that "understanding," is difficult to achieve without the experience of being black. I think I may have scratched the surface. Black friends/readers, please feel free to school me if I'm out of line but:
White people, more specifically white America, NEVER apologized for slavery. In our society, when a crime is committed against someone, the apology is made monetarily, but black people were never given that apology (reparations). White America just said, “ok, yeah, we’ll try to stop doing that.” Not fair...
So when a white person (in predominantly white America) uses the “N” word in ANY WAY, to a black person, it’s a reminder of how horribly they were treated for hundreds of years without any real revenge or adequate display of remorse.
To NOT use the “N” word, is the absolute smallest degree of respect white people can show in the face of what our great grandparents did, and what our grandparents and parents continued to do for 150 years following the Civil War. For black people to ask us to never use it, is simply them saying, “If you’re not going to apologize, at very least, PLEASE don’t remind us.”
And for people to draw comparisons to words like “faggot,” or “cracker,” or the oppression of women, is further insulting, because NOTHING in America’s history is reasonably comparable to the atrocities of slavery. The only fair comparison would be that of a German man, in Germany, using the word, “Kike,” to refer to Jews in Germany. -No jokes allowed there.
We need to understand, then, we need to make some sort of grand gesture expressing our guilt and remorse, albeit mainly the guilt of our ancestors, because while those who suffered through slavery are no longer with us, the money they SHOULD have been given as an apology would now be in the hands of their children’s children.