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This Week In Race: Cosby Trial Begins; No Trump Jokes For Kevin Hart

Actor and comedian Kevin Hart said that he wouldn't tell jokes about Donald Trump.
Evan Agostini
Actor and comedian Kevin Hart said that he wouldn't tell jokes about Donald Trump.

This week in race: Bill Maher crosses a line; Kevin Hart takes a pass on President Trump; a Cosby Kid stands up for Dr. Huxtable. Let's get to it.

America's Favorite Dad showed up in court, and one of his TV children was there. Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played Rudy Huxtable, helped steer him through the press gantlet and into a Philadelphia courtroom, where Cosby is on trial for sexual assault.

There's fallout, still, from Bill Maher's Friday show, in which he talked with Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, and declared himself a "house n*****." The comment came after Sasse invited him to see how beautiful his state was by coming out and working in the fields.

Black Twitter — and lots of other people's — exploded. Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, canceled his next-day appearance. There were calls for Maher to be fired, and plenty of arguments around free speech and the responsible use of it. In the end Maher apologized, and the show went on.

More on the comedy front: Donald Trump is often fertile fodder for jokes, but don't sit and wait for Kevin Hart to go there: He has announced there will be none of that. One of the highest-paid black comedians says he doesn't want to alienate his audience. Or at least the ones who don't find Trump jokes funny.

Meanwhile, in the world of books ...

The Washington Post this week wrote about the history of the Green Book (full title: The Negro Motorist Green Book). The book was a guide through the segregated South that black travelers depended upon to steer them to restaurants, hotels, guesthouses and shops that were "Negro-friendly."

The Green Book stopped publishing in the mid-'60s, after America was de jure desegregated. But given the current political climate, some have suggested it might be time to revisit that idea.

Moving on to computer games ...

The Oregon Trail is a game set in pioneer-era America, where players get to manifest their destiny by assuming the role of Western expansionists. Indian Country Today interviewed one of the game's original creators (it was created in 1971). Don Rawitsch says if he were to redesign the game today, it would be a Native American version.

The game has been used in schools to educate students about the rigors of the pioneer experience. The versions for mobile devices are popular, which is worrisome to some critics; the one-sided scenarios have no context. "Part of why the game is dangerous is because you can pretend you're learning history and teachers endorse it," one university professor told Indian Country Today.

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Karen Grigsby Bates is the Senior Correspondent for Code Switch, a podcast that reports on race and ethnicity. A veteran NPR reporter, Bates covered race for the network for several years before becoming a founding member of the Code Switch team. She is especially interested in stories about the hidden history of race in America—and in the intersection of race and culture. She oversees much of Code Switch's coverage of books by and about people of color, as well as issues of race in the publishing industry. Bates is the co-author of a best-selling etiquette book (Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times) and two mystery novels; she is also a contributor to several anthologies of essays. She lives in Los Angeles and reports from NPR West.