During a conversation with sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson, the comedian, 61, addressed the elephant in the room and said, “I want you to school me. I did a bad thing. … There is a lot of bulls–t apologizing in America, and I am against that … [but] this was appropriate.”
“For black folks, that word — I don’t care who you are — has caused pain. I’m not here to do that,” Maher continued. “It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t said in malice, it wasn’t. If it brought back pain to people, that’s why I apologize freely, and I reiterate it tonight. That’s sincere. I’m not that big of an a–hole.”
Dyson went on to address how white privilege can be “interesting and tricky,” but noted that he doesn’t believe that people think Maher is a racist. “What they thought was, ‘If even Bill Maher can at some level capitulate to a level of unconscious privilege, then the rest of us are in a serious spot,'” the author explained.
Maher apologized again, telling viewers, “This happened once. A guy said a weird thing, I made a bad joke,” he said. “Yes, it was wrong and I own up to that. But it’s not like I’ve made a career of this. It’s not like I went out there last Friday and said, ‘Oh, I’m going to break some new ground tonight.’ It happened, and it was wrong, and people make mistakes. We’re all sinners.”
Later on Friday night’s episode, guest Ice Cube accepted the HBO host’s apology, quipping that Maher sometimes sounds “like a redneck trucker.”
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