Sure sure, Dr. Laura has “apologized” for articulating the word “nigger” on her radio show this week (though she has apparently excised the offending segment from her online transcript; thankfully sites like Media Matters snagged the whole thing so it can live forever on the internet). I’d like to take a little time to deconstruct her apology a bit, however, because it is filled with the same stinky privilege that informed her, um. . . I guess we could call it a “gaffe” instead of “racist outburst” for the sake of argument, right? Anyways.

For those who haven’t heard of this awesome piece of awesomeness, for some reason unbeknownst to me at least, a woman named Jade called Dr. Laura’s show for the cranky blathering that she passes off as “advice.” Jade is black, and she was concerned and frustrated because her white husband won’t just fucking tell his asshole friends and relatives not to do that thing where majority-dwellers assume that an “other” (like a real live black woman!) can speak for an entire group.

Dr. Laura then got all huffy and stuff (no, really?!) because it’s not at all racist (apparently) to ask a black person what, you know, all black people think about a given issue. Everyone knows they all think the same, amiright?

But yeah, so it unshockingly degenerates after that into a baffling exchange wherein Dr. Laura basically just shows her ass over and over again with comments like:

Well, listen, without giving much thought, a lot of blacks voted for Obama simply ’cause he was half-black. Didn’t matter what he was gonna do in office, it was a black thing. You gotta know that. That’s not a surprise.


I don’t get it. If anybody without enough melanin says [nigger], it’s a horrible thing; but when black people say it, it’s affectionate. It’s very confusing.

and, I guess because Dr. Laura ostensibly doles out “advice” on her show:

If you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race.

GAWD ALMIGHTY. You can read the whole amazing transcript, it’s linked above. There’s just so much to mine there, mostly amounting to the poor caller being accused of “having a chip on her shoulder” for expressing the sentiment that, essentially, well maybe black people don’t have some sort of psychic connection wherein they all think the same way about stuff–you know, “black-think” as Dr. Laura so sensitively put it in her summation at the end.

It’s so outrageous. But the thing is, Dr. Laura articulating “nigger” several times isn’t what’s so problematic here, shockingly enough. Sure, throwing around the word “nigger” in casual discussions of race like it was no big deal marks you as an idiot (or someone who knows she’s losing an argument so she throws out an epithet so completely offensive that it’ll get people riled and impact their ability to argue with you effectively, not that I think that could have been her purpose at all, oh no no no of course not!), but that’s the obviously problematic part of all this.

The more insidious–and thus more damaging–aspect, is the willingness on Dr. Laura’s part to play the wide-eyed innocent white person who’s like, just so confused by all this “black stuff!” Gosh n’golly, why can black comedians on HBO say “nigger” but I can’t? It drives me insane.  It’s like, the same privileged bullshit Aaron McGruder called out constantly in early Boondocks comic strips, or that Spike Lee mined in Bamboozled where his Quentin Tarantino knockoff tells Damon Wayans that he knows more about black people and what’s offensive because knows, um, Spike Lee.

Dr. Laura pretty much exemplifies racial privilege. Her comments during the show–and in her apology–are representative of the sort of entitlement that says “as a white person, I find it offensive when black people won’t let me causally use hurtful racial epithets that have been reclaimed to some extent within the black community! That’s discrimination, you know, and we live in America!” And it’s sad.

It’s also disingenuous–because, honestly, the concept of in-group versus out-group is understood by everyone. And Dr. Laura seems to get that–after all, she apologized for using “the n-word”–but yet, of course, she doesn’t seem to realize anything else that she did wrong during that exchange:

I was attempting to make a philosophical point, and I articulated the “n” word all the way out–more than one time.  And that was wrong.  I’ll say it again–that was wrong.

I ended up, I’m sure, with many of you losing the point I was trying to make, because you were shocked by the fact that I said the word.

Right! Right! Yes, Dr. Laura! Thanks for “getting it!” Your point, which as far as I can tell was that that a woman who’s upset because she feels compromised by her husband’s unwillingness to stand up for her individuality, has, quote, “a chip on her shoulder”–that was totally lost because you said “nigger!” I suppose that, actually, we can only hope that your other points–that black people voted for Obama because he’s black and they’re black and not for any other reason–were lost, as well. . . not because you said nigger, but because that’s an ignorant attitude that allows white folks to feel better about the world because it ignores what a whole lot of what both black and white folks call “reality.”

And the most hilarious thing about all of this is how Dr. Laura also manages to then undermine herself in a last-gasp effort to redeem herself to her white conservative demographic. Let’s just take a moment to analyze the letter she put on her blog in defense of herself–the lone example of all the mail she received on the matter, that was, I’m sure only incidentally, written by a black lady:

I believe that African-Americans using the n-word is disdainful, as well as Caucasians or any other race for that matter.  I agree that the argument some African-Americans use that it is ok for them to use it and not others, is ridiculous.  But, I have to say, when I heard you saying the word repeatedly, it struck a negative chord with me.

I don’t believe you are a racist, and I don’t believe, as an African-American woman, that I am hypersensitive.

Wait–what? Could it be. . . omg! This particular black person disagrees with the notion that it’s OK for black people to use the word nigger! But. . . I thought. . . waaaait a second. . . I thought black people were guilty of “black-think!” That they all just agree on stuff? I mean, didn’t “they” just put Obama in the White House cuz he black?

Could it be, that perhaps Jade, who mistakenly sought advice from Dr. Laura in the first place, was right to feel offended when people constantly try to force her to represent all “black people” because. . . wait, maybe. . . it’s that black people. . . just like white people. . . have different opinions about stuff?

Nah. They probably just all have chips on their collective shoulders.