During a complicated Hot Topics conversation about a teacher who recently used the N-word inside a Missouri classroom, Whoopi Goldberg reflected on the slur’s complex history at The View — particularly with show creator and longtime cohost, Barbara Walters, who died in December at age 93.
“We used to have this conversation every couple of months on this show, because Barbara would pose that same question: ‘Well, why can’t I say it?’ I said, ‘Well, go ahead and do it. See what happens.’ Because people want to know. I say, ‘Well, you can say it. Go ahead,'” Goldberg said of Walters, who left the show in 2014, on Wednesday’s episode.
The Oscar-winning actress’ words recalled a tense 2011 moment on The View, when the panel discussed the controversial, unofficial name of Rick Perry’s hunting camp that incorporated the racist word. On that episode, Walters said the name more than once, prompting pushback from former cohost Sherri Shepherd.
“I heard you say it, and it was fine. You said it a different way,” Shepherd said to Goldberg, before turning to Walters.
“When I heard you say it, I didn’t like the way you said it,” Shepherd told the journalist. “I know, it’s a semantics thing. There’s something that goes through my body.”
“So, what you’re saying is it’s because I’m white that I shouldn’t use the word. So, no white person should use that word?” Walters questioned. “I’m repeating what was on the rock [reportedly standing at the camp’s entrance.]”
Back on the current episode, Sunny Hostin gave her view on the word’s usage.
“A lot of folks in the African American community believe that by using it, they’re reclaiming that word. I don’t have that belief. My belief is that it should not be used because it’s a racial slur, by anyone. But, the fact of the matter is that I maintain that this teacher should’ve stuck to acute angles and triangles and things like that,” she said, to which Goldberg responded with a further assessment of who can and can’t say it.
“Whenever people who are not Black say this to me, ‘Why can’t I say it?’ I always say, ‘Go ahead. You know, I might not punch you out, but somebody else might,'” she said. “But, that’s up to you to find out. If you’re not interested in finding out what happens if you do say it, I suggest you don’t say it and just keep moving on with other things.”
On the topic of things one shouldn’t say, on TV at least: The show had to cut live audio on Wednesday’s broadcast after Sara Haines dropped a mystery bit of profanity during the telecast, prompting Goldberg to jump out of her seat and panelist Alyssa Farah Griffin to cover her mouth in surprise.
Whoopi Goldberg reveals what she said to Barbara Walters. Whoopi Goldberg reveals what she said to Barbara Walters