An Open Letter to Bill Maher

June 11, 2017

So I watched your show when Michael Eric Dyson tried to walk you through a real and earnest apology. I was disappointed when he failed to do so. You kept falling back on excuses. “It was a comedic error; you are an animal of comedy.”
Today I went for a run along the lake front in Chicago. The trail is shared by runners and bikers and I noticed that the white bikers passing me from behind, a black woman, didn’t call out and warn that they were passing and left just enough space to safely pass me, even when there was no one at all, running or riding in the oncoming lane of traffic. 
It reminded me of JimCrowSegregation, when black people were required to surrender the sidewalk to any and every white person walking. That it put me in this mindset, when I was born well after Brown v Board of Education, my knowledge of this limited to reading and movies, made me think of collective consciousness and/or cultural memory. Where by an entire community has an emotional reaction to a situation because it is experienced in an historical context. 
If this is the case ,for me as a Black Woman, isn’t it also the case that white males have a collective consciousness and/or cultural memory that they act on when they fail to give a Black runner safe passing space, but do so for a white runner? Which I saw occur twice on my run. The understanding that was a white male, I own the sidewalk and don’t have to give a Black person on the same walkway reasonably safe passing space.
And that is what was missing from your apology for me. That acknowledgement of the privilege enjoyed by you as a white male of being entitled to the whole sidewalk, to use the n-word, the ongoing historical and cultural context and memory. And the atonement for that abuse as one who knows better. Understands bias and systemic racism and micro-aggressions. A sincere unqualified apology. 
This is an opportunity for deeper communication, but we all have our share of heaving lifting to take advantage of this opportunity.