As the first episode of the comedian’s show following his controversial use of a racial slur on-air, Friday night’s broadcast of Real Time with Bill Maher brought the heat. Though Maher chose not to confront the scandal head-on in his monologue, it became a consistently-candid theme throughout the show’s various interviews and panel discussions.
The portion of the show which covered the controversy (which Maher has since apologized for) began with an interview with author and sociological academic Michael Eric Dyson, who himself frequently covers topics of race and inequality. Maher certainly wasted no time addressing the elephant in the room in his conversation between the professor, but the conversation did not end there.
Maher’s final guest on the show, hip hop legend Ice Cube, had quite a bit to say and many questions to ask about the comedian’s use of the racial epithet. The rapper articulated his nuanced opinion while simultaneously holding Maher’s feet to the fire, making an avid effort to explore the subliminal circumstances surrounding the widely-condemned comment.
“You know, it’s a word that has been used against us. It’s like a knife, man. And 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 going to let that happen again by nobody. Because it’s not cool. Now, I know you heard, it’s in the lexicon, everybody talking. But that’s our word now. And you can’t have it now.”
Ice Cube continued, “I know you trying to get it back. And I’m not talking about you Bill. I’m talking about guys who cross the line every day because they got some black homies, they got some friends, they think it’s cool. And it’s not cool. Because when I hear my homies say it, it don’t feel like venom. When I hear a white person saying it, it feels like a knife stabbing me, even if they don’t mean it.”