I hear you completely. Something that came to mind for me is not even the fact of saying this word that is still generally not acceptable for white folks to say casually, but that that specific phrase that he used itself isn’t just referencing the racist history of this country but the seriously complex and painful history within African-American culture, i.e. the old narrative of house n — - vs. field n — -. His use of this term almost hints that he feels entitled to some aspect of black culture, like he identifies with it in some way or thinks that he is separate from common white culture in the US or has some closer-than-others connection to black American culture. Which he doesn’t in any way. Like the classically idiotic “I can say n — -, I have tons of blacks friends,” or “I don’t say Fag in a bad way, my gay friends do it all the time” nonsense.