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Why do we get so worked up over the n word?

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 6/15/2017, 6 a.m.

Maher didn’t publicly say it, but he probably could have, and that’s that his black friends routinely use the word. A hip hop record producer who weighed in on the controversy partially backed him up and said that the word had lost some of its sting since white hip hoppers use the word and do mean any offense by it. It was self-serving ploy by a defendant grasping to paint himself as bigotry-free. But the point was a good one.

That’s not the only reason the n-word debate is suspect. Put bluntly, don’t we have more important things to call about? Trump and all he represents, failing inner city public schools, the near depression level unemployment among young black males, the more than 1 million blacks who pack America’s jails, the surging homelessness numbers of which blacks make up a disproportionate share, the wholesale assault on public education and affordable health care, the gut of voting rights, civil rights, and labor protections, and the continuing cycle of crime and violence, hopelessness and desperation that wracks some poor black communities. Yet, there are few impassioned panels, pulsating websites, marches and demonstrations by blacks demanding action on these crisis problems.

Then again, it’s just much easier and more fun to generate passion and heat over a word than to generate passion and heat over real crisis problems. Putting Maher and the n-word on trial won’t change that.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.