Quoted: Elon James White on Tim Allen’s “whitesplaining”


Did you hear? Tim Allen has advice for black folks on how to react to “the N word.” The Home Improvement star offered (among other gems) this bit of wisdom:

“You want to take the power away from that word so that no one is offended by it…If I have no intent, if I show no intent, if I clearly am not a racist, then how can ‘n—–’ be bad coming out of my mouth?”


At The Grio, Elon James White sets Allen (and those who think like him) straight:

“Racism doesn’t come with a barcode scanner that checks each person for their actual feelings when they use problematic language. Another thing that perhaps Allen didn’t know: you can participate in racism without taking on the mantle of “racist.” Racism doesn’t come in only one flavor. Poorly executed but well-meaning acts can still add to the problem.

Allen seems confused by the fact that Martin Lawrence might use the word ni**er with him but then he’s not allowed to go use it later on. His “European mind” doesn’t understand that. Well here’s a newsflash, sir: Your “European mind” doesn’t have to understand it. It would be nice though if your European mind might take a little time and learn about things like “historical context” and “complexity.”

Read more…


About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.

Use the "for:racialicious" tag in del.icio.us to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.

Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.

Follow Us on Twitter!

Support Racialicious

The Octavia Butler Book Club

The Octavia Butler Book Club
(Click the book for the latest conversation)

Recent Comments

Feminism for Real – Jessica, Latoya, Andrea

Feminism for Real

Yes Means Yes – Latoya

Yes Means Yes

Sex Ed and Youth – Jessica

Youth and Sexual Health


Online Media Legal Network

Recent Posts

Support Racialicious

Older Archives


  • mistwolf

    A bit late, but this is a concept I have trouble getting my autistic children to understand. Sometimes, it isn’t enough to not intend for an outcome, if you are not actively trying to avoid it. It’s not enough to say ‘If I don’t mean to be racist, how is it racist?’. To truly merit any kind of defence, you have to be /actively/ not being racist. And THAT includes /not using racist terms/. If you are doing the latter, and you screw up, you take responsibility. But most people stick with the former, and then when they screw up, it’s self-righteous ‘I didn’t mean to be racist, so you must be being over-sensitive;.

    (Note, this isn’t a racism specific thing, where my kids are concerned. It can include simple things like hurting people. It’s not enough to not intend harm if you aren’t taking steps to NOT cause harm. IE, walk around people not over/through them. Don’t touch people without permission. Don’t ‘just comment’ on things. But again, my kids are on the autism spectrum, so should have trouble with such things. And they STILL take more responsibility than people like this.)

  • happyappa

    Lol, the first time I saw this I thought the same, look another White person talking about how they understand racism. And what’s up with them looking up things in the dictionary, someone shoved the dictionary definition of racism in my face when I tried to explain it was more than that.

    If he has a conversation with Gwyneth Paltrow and Paula Deen, I’m sure they won’t get anywhere beyond “If you have Black friends you can say it”, “But it’s fine if you’re a ~*good person*~”, and “If you just say it as a quote it’s totally OK”. Sure White folks, the N word is yours to take back.

    Intent… You can say you have no bad intentions, say you are not a racist, but if you are going to use a racist slur, it does not mean that word isn’t racist anymore, it doesn’t mean that the repercussions are gone. And like the article says, there’s no way of knowing if what they say is true. Karl Lagerfeld comes to mind, he did a show as a tribute to yellowface, and you can’t tell me that because there are “good intentions” (an homage) it isn’t racist.

  • Bethly

    “You want to take the power away from that word so that no one is offended by it…If I have no intent, if I show no intent, if I clearly am not a racist, then how can ‘n—–’ be *** coming out of my mouth?”