White People Can Love Us And Still Call Us N***as: Lee Daniels Explains The Dualities of Racism

August 7, 2013  |  

In an interview at the National Association of Black Journalist annual convention director Lee Daniels was asked about the use of the n word in his new film The Butler. He responded very interestingly about his decision to not only include the word and what it says about the complexities of human nature and what it means to be racist.

Here’s what he said:

“For me, it was very strategic,” Daniels told a group of reporters at NABJ. “When we did use it, it was used later on by Cuba [Gooding Jr., as the head butler] making fun of someone that did use it, Lyndon Johnson. It was sort of the joke that this guy uses it. So when he says it and talks about, it opens up —  like Paula Deen — the concept of white people loving us and really loving us and feeling that it’s fine to use the word N***a. That’s how Johnson felt. He did something that was incredible for us. That’s trying to be taken away from us right now. And yet, he used that word just like ‘pass the grits.’ Racism is a very hard thing to explain, especially in the South.”

Hmm… interesting.

I tend to agree with this statement. Sometimes racism is so pervasive and so embedded in society that behaviors we would automatically perceive as racist doesn’t translate in those ways to people who belong to the majority. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean you can’t and won’t be held accountable for your ignorance. Just ask Paula Deen.

Anyway, what do you think about Daniels’ comment? Is racism as black and white (no pun intended) as we think it is?

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