Michael Che pointedly said the N-word during a riff on race in Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update segment.

Michael Che On ‘SNL’

Che and Colin Jost returned to the Weekend Update desk for Saturday Night Live‘s Season 42 premiere. At one point, the two weighed in on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick‘s ongoing protest. The athlete has been taking a knee during the National Anthem before NFL games in protest of the oppression of people of color, particularly in light of police shootings of unarmed black men.

“If the national anthem was so important, how did they know somebody was kneeling?” Che remarked, adding, “That’s how boring the national anthem is ― halfway through it you’re looking around the stadium, like, ‘I wonder what the backup quarterback for the 49ers is up to.’”

Jost admitted that he was a fan of the National Anthem, which didn’t surprise Che in the least.

“I expect white guys to defend the National Anthem like I expected Phylicia Rashad to defend Bill Cosby,” Che said. “I’m sure when people were protesting the Cosby Show, I’m sure Clair Huxtable was like, ‘I don’t know what he did to y’all, but n— made me rich!’ ”

After letting the N-word slip, Che continued to explain his point about the effectiveness and appropriateness of Kaepernick’s protest.

“It’s just like when you’re at home and your girl’s mad at you and you just want to unwind and watch the game, and she walks right in front of the TV and stands there and goes ‘We need to talk.’ And you’re like ‘Now? The game’s on,’ and she’s like, ‘Honey, you shot another kid!’ That’s what Kaepernick’s doing,” Che said.

Reactions to Che’s take on Kaepernick’s protest, particularly his use of language, have been divided. Many viewers were left wondering if the uncensored racial epithet will get Che fired from Saturday Night Live. Neither SNL nor Che has commented on the controversy.

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