Views / Metro Views


Metro News globe

Metro Views

Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.

Mochama: Tell me, Larry King, which bone is the racist one?

Those coming to Bill Maher's defence for using the n-word have said he doesn't have a 'racist bone in his body.' Is racism in our bones?

Bill Maher, left, with actor-rapper Ice Cube during a recent taping of Real Time With Bill Maher.

HBO via AP

Bill Maher, left, with actor-rapper Ice Cube during a recent taping of Real Time With Bill Maher.

When Larry King said there wasn’t a “racist bone” in Bill Maher’s body after the HBO host used the n-word, I had to pause: Is there such a thing as a racist bone?

It’s not the first time that phrase has caught my ears. 

When a Toronto-area school board trustee admitted to using a racial slur to describe a black parent, her son said that his mother “doesn’t have a racist bone in her body, and anybody who knows her will tell you that.”

When Jeff Sessions, a man who once joked that the KKK was alright until he heard they smoked marijuana, was nominated for U.S. Attorney General, there was a lot of pushback. Trump super fan and wearer-of-hats Roger Stone insisted that Sessions “doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.” 

Some might say racism is a belief in the racial superiority of some and the lesser humanity of others. Others say there is no racist bone in their friend’s body. Sounds like a fact that needs checking. 

In an era of fake news and alternative facts, the public deserves to know: Is racism in our bones? I set out to find out. 

If racism is attributable to one or a series of bones in the human skeleton, there’s plenty of space where it can hide out. There are 206 bones in the human body. When we’re born, however, we start out with 270. The seeds of the racist bone — Bone Zero, if you will — may be hiding out among the 64 that eventually fuse with other bones to form the human skeleton. 

The research on this is admittedly minimal. For example, a study from the University of Toronto found that racial bias begins in babies as early as six months into their development. But are bones the reason that sweet fluffy little babies grow up into adults who say, “If you can say it, why can’t I?” The study is silent on this. 

To find out more, I reached out to a top forensic anthropologist and a highly respected orthopaedic surgeon on the toxic mythical Bone Zero. Neither got back to me.

So I asked a doctor friend of mine who said, “Let me brood on that for a second. Are you looking for even the remote possibility of a pun?” That’s medical science out. 

My quest for truth remained. Perhaps history would have something to say. 

Indeed, the study of bones has some form when it comes to race. Phrenology, a now-debunked science, was used to justify slavery. Despite feeling up hundreds of skulls, phrenologists never did manage to identify a racism bone.

I will continue to research this oversight. 

For now, I present a new hypothesis: Maybe racism is actually a skin condition. 

More on