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I’ve always felt extremely uncomfortable with Black people who give their White friends license to use the N word. Not only do I not understand why such an honor would be bestowed on someone not of African descent, I can’t understand why a White person, who claims to care about Black people and knows them intimately, would ever want to use it.

That’s the conundrum for me. I know the N word is over-represented in Hip Hop-which has practically become mainstream culture. Still, the understanding is–or should be–that coming from the lips of a White person, the context and implications are different. There is historical and current oppression tied to it. It’s hurtful. Furthermore, as someone who is not Black, you can never know what it means to be treated as less than in this country, like Black people have been and still are. It’s not for you. Even still, knowing that it offends a large segment of the Black community, why is your desire to be cool or edgy more important than the disrespect and degradation of human beings?

Questions that need answers.

You already know I’m talking about Bill Maher and his recent use of the word “house n*gger.” Keep in mind this is not the first time Maher has said something that was offensive to Black folks. According to The Root, this is not even the first time he’s used the N word on air. I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to watch this clip right now but apparently, he says it repeatedly and even questions a Black woman’s Blackness because she challenged him on his use of it.

Bill Maher does this. This is who he is. He’s the White boy who has Black friends, dates Black women and feels that because he’s “so close” to the culture, he can do whatever the hell he pleases. Which, if you ask me, is the epitome of the entitlement most White men exhibit in and around the world.

It’s the sentiment that I know everything. I own everything. I am entitled to everything. Nothing is off limits to me. How else can you explain a White man telling a Black woman about the N word and then questioning her Blackness when she didn’t agree?

It reminds me of a quote from a story I read recently about White folks and microagressions:

“…all because white people are meant to teach and not to be taught.” 

This time, his use of it was met with such ire because of social media. Back in the day when he was insulting that Black woman, I’m sure people felt a way about it. But there was no DVR, there was no Twitter, no Facebook, no cell phones with video recording capabilities. At most, you could have called up a friend and y’all talked about it. But the conversation likely stopped there.

Today, we’re not on that.

Surprisingly, what some Black folk are still doing is giving out these damn “passes.” I’d bet good money that when Bill Maher was dating Karrine Steffans, he was using it. And recently, another one of his ex girlfriends, a Black woman named Coco Johnson, came forward to hint around the fact that she’d heard him use it too.

According to theGrio, after dating for a year, Coco sued Maher for $9 million for not following through on his promise to marry her, but also for the use of racially degrading language.

In an interview with TMZ, they asked her had she ever heard him use the word and she said:


“I’ve heard it many times. I don’t want to say exactly from where, but I just think that anyone who uses that word, you know, you really need to use some other vocabulary. If you’re an educated person, there are many other words in the vocabulary that you could use other than that. It’s so condescending, and just sad and disappointing that someone so intelligent would stoop to that level.”

You know what it is. If she’d never heard him say it, she simply would have said he didn’t say it. Johnson also suggested that Bill get some racial sensitivity training.

Y’all, I don’t know the circumstances of Bill and Coco’s relationship or what caused it to end. But I’m telling you, my White boyfriend using the N word, in or out of the bedroom–for those who like to make allowances for such bulls*t, is grounds for immediate dismissal.

In fact, in light of this video from The Root, and the flippant way he used it just weeks ago, shrugging, with that smug look on his face afterward, it’s clear that Bill might need to be dismissed from this show and replaced with someone who actually gets it. He’s clearly not the one.

A White man agrees Black Lives Matter, signs up for the NAACP newsletter and we’re ready to invite him to the cookout. And that’s cool, he can come. But as the Black people closest to him, it’s your job to make sure he knows how to act once he gets there or else the both of y’all will be embarrassed.

Image via WENN

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at She is also the author of “Bettah Days.” You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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