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.”

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  • 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?”