The Bill Maher Of Silicon Valley: When Venture Capitalists Drink Too Much Kool-Aid

Jamarlin Martin
Written by Jamarlin Martin

I challenged Ben Horowitz over the weekend to stop using the word nigga in any context, even as part of quoted lyrics, but he seems unrepentant and doesn’t care if he offends millions.

If a Black person repeatedly quoted anti-semitic words and lyrics, would they be allowed to get away with it as Horowitz has?

Horowitz is a Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur, blogger and venture capitalist. The co-founder and general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, he has a history of pairing hip-hop lyrics with his writing on tech and investing, particularly hip-hop lyrics with the word nigga.

After being challenged and questioned by Black fans on his promiscuous use of the word nigga in his blog posts, Horowitz apologized in 2012 and said he would “obfuscate” some of the letters.

However Horowitz continued to use the word in his writings and received some backlash when he used the word nigga several times as part of quotes in his book, “The Hard Things About Hard Things,” published in 2014 (Harper Collins).

Recently, talk show host Bill Maher apologized for using the term “house nigga” and offending millions of Black people on the HBO political talk show, “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

Actor and hip-hop artist Ice Cube had a brilliant response to Bill Maher crossing the line.


“I still think you need to get to the root of the psyche because I think there’s a lot of guys out there who cross the line because they’re a little too familiar, or they think they’re too familiar,” Ice Cube told Maher. “Or, guys that, you know, might have a black girlfriend or two that made them Kool-Aid every now and then, and then they think they can cross the line. And they can’t. You know, it’s a word that has been used against us. It’s like a knife, man. You can use it as a weapon or you can use it as a tool. It’s when you use it as a weapon against us, by white people, and we’re not going to let that happen again … because it’s not cool … That’s our word, and you can’t have it back.

“… It’s not cool because when I hear my homie say it, it don’t feel like venom. When I hear a white person say it, it feel like that knife stabbing you, even if they don’t mean to.”

“I like your show and I like you. But I think this is a teachable moment, not just to you but to the people who are watching.” –@icecube

— Bill Maher (@billmaher) June 10, 2017

Horowitz has a Black wife and hangs out with Kanye West and Nas, so he may feel he has more flexibility and street cred with the word than your average white guy.

What he and Maher are missing is that as soon as a white person uses this word in any form, the word is instantly “weaponized” when associated with whiteness — any whiteness.

Here are some of Horowitz’s responses when I challenged him over the weekend to stop using the word:

Horowitz would be wise to learn from his partner, Marc Andreessen, who apologized for offending millions of Indians after India rejected Facebook’s Free push in the country. Andreessen, who is on Facebook’s Board with Peter Thiel, had a silly argument against India’s ruling for a free Internet. His words were seen by many as essentially supporting white supremacy and colonialism.




One of many problems with Silicon Valley is its “bubbleness.” It is severely detached from reality and believes it knows what’s best for others. Silicon Valley likely doesn’t care if Black people are offended with the word nigga being weaponized by one of their top liberal venture capitalists.

Donald Trump gave the bubbleheads a wake-up call but we will likely need another financial collapse in Silicon Valley for them to realize that creating and investing in elegant mobile phones, fun mobile apps and creepy advertising tools doesn’t give you the right to use the word nigga, in any context.



Sign up for the Moguldom newsletter — Join the Moguldom Movement and get the latest news and information on tech, crypto, politics, inequality, and more.

About Jamarlin Martin
Jamarlin Martin is the founder and CEO of Nubai Ventures. A pioneer and thought leader in digital media, he grew Moguldom Media Group into a multiple-brand digital media and entertainment platform, selling three brands to Urban One NASDAQ: UONEK. Ozy described Jamarlin as an "Emperor of Digital Media." He won an EY Entrepreneur of The Year Award in 2015.

View Comments
  • Since context is important, I feel that Bill Maher was unfairly raked over the coals. As far as Ben, I don’t know him personally but I do have a good friend that knows him well, and, based on our conversations, Ben would never use the word nigger or nigga inappropriately. Regardless of its history, we continue to give the word nigger too much power. Whenever a white person uses the world, it often triggers thoughts/behavior based of emotions which reveals that we are still somehow victimized by it’s mere usage. It’s almost like we’ve been conditioned to response a certain way, like Pavlov’s Dogs. No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.

    We have to take the power away from that word and stop thinking “white person said nigger = racist.” As you mentions, not only did Ben marry a black woman they have children; thus he has black children. As my mom told me, I have told my sons if a white person use nigger to try to hurt you as soon as you response negatively you have given him/her exactly what they wanted and you lost. Learn to response in kind if necessary but never let him/her trigger you. Your ancestors sacrificed too much for you to get bent out of shape because someone called you nigger.

    The last time (I think back in college) I got called a nigger my reply was “that’s all you got?” and I laughed so hard in his face. I then said “why did you think that would upset me?” He turned instantly red and his head almost exploded. He revealed himself as a small-minded punk. I walked away laughing and telling him I felt sorry for him along with some other choice words. 🙂

  • PLC

    I think, this article was interesting…that’s about it. On the other hand, a book by Randall Kennedy reads:
    It’s “the nuclear bomb of racial epithets,” a word that whites have employed to wound and degrade African Americans for three centuries. Paradoxically, among many black people it has become a term of affection and even empowerment. The word, of course, is nigger, and in this candid, lucidly argued book the distinguished legal scholar Randall Kennedy traces its origins, maps its multifarious connotations, and explores the controversies that rage around it.
    Should blacks be able to use nigger in ways forbidden to others? Should the law treat it as a provocation that reduces the culpability of those who respond to it violently? Should it cost a person his job, or a book like Huckleberry Finn its place on library shelves? With a range of reference that extends from the Jim Crow south to Chris Rock routines and the O. J. Simpson trial, Kennedy takes on not just a word, but our laws, attitudes, and culture with bracing courage and intelligence.”

    It’s the audacity to use it in contemporary times by a white man that know nothing about free labor, nor, being a free servant in a house. Bill Maher did not get enough blowback in my opinion.
    Moguldom, your Mom told you right, however, its a generations that have to deal with this and new times bring on new situations to deal with this particular,epithets…and so far…every Black person I know, can remember the first time they heard it, got it thrown at them and the their reactions, and that someone had the nerve to use it. The audacity!
    And marrying a Person of Color, does not give any white person a pass to use that word.
    Mrs. C.