After publishing what the self-help guru has slammed as an “inaccurate, agenda-driven version of the past” accusing him of having “berated” abuse victims and made “inappropriate sexual advances” on women, BuzzFeed News has now published a video from the 1980s showing a young Tony Robbins using the N-word when describing his attempts to help black members of an audience resist others gaining “control” of them through the use of an offensive word.
“The video shows a young Robbins making a presentation to a small crowd in the 1980s, and describing a ‘intense’ encounter with what he called a predominantly ‘militant black’ audience at a previous event,” reports BuzzFeed, which is now asking readers to submit their “experiences” with Robbins, who made critical comments about the #MeToo movement last year. “The self-help coach said that after audience members challenged him about why he only used ‘white examples’ in his teachings, he explained to one man that if he didn’t stop taking offense about matters of race he would ‘never be free.'”
“As long as someone calls you a n***** and gets that kind of response I’ve seen right now, where you’re ready to explode, and what you’ve done is given that person absolute control of you,” he told the audience he said. “You have no control in your life. You are still a slave.” He then said he asked the audience to join him in singing, “I’m a n*****, you’re a n*****, be a n***** too.” The attempt was successful, said the young Robbins, the audience eventually mocking the term “honky” as well, saying “Black, white, doesn’t matter to me,” and both black and white audience members hugging. The audience in the video “gasped, laughed, and clapped” as he described the exchange, BuzzFeed notes.
In response to BuzzFeed’s report, Robbins’s lawyer said, “the presentation was positive and was accepted in the context in which it was conducted: a passionate discussion about racism and how to rise above it,” the outlet reports. “[A]ny suggestion that Mr. Robbins is somehow racist or insensitive to the African-American community is absurd and false. Indeed, one of Mr. Robbins’ event partners for 25-plus years is an African-American.”
Last week, BuzzFeed reported accusations that their year-long investigation into Robbins found that he “berated abuse victims and subjected his followers to unorthodox and potentially dangerous techniques,” and that he allegedly made “inappropriate sexual advances” against former female fans and staffers.
“A yearlong investigation by BuzzFeed News, based on leaked recordings, internal documents, and dozens of interviews with fans and insiders, reveals how Robbins has berated abuse victims and subjected his followers to unorthodox and potentially dangerous techniques. And former female fans and staffers have accused him of inappropriate sexual advances,” the outlet reported last week. “Two former followers who went on to work for Robbins provided BuzzFeed News with signed statements swearing under oath that they felt he had sexually harassed them by repeatedly pursuing them after they made clear they weren’t interested.”
In a Medium post Friday, Robbins responded to BuzzFeed’s piece. “I have been the target of a year-long investigation by BuzzFeed. Unfortunately, your organization has made it clear to my team that you intend to move forward with publishing an inaccurate, agenda-driven version of the past, pierced with falsehoods,” Robbins wrote. “It is intended to disparage me personally, my family, my life’s work, and the efforts of the millions of individuals around the globe who have taken this journey with me over the last 40-plus years.”
“Let me be clear, while my open-classroom therapeutic methods are not for everyone, and while I am on my best day still only an imperfect human being, I have never behaved in the reckless, irresponsible, or malicious manner intimated by false, unfounded, and incendiary allegations suggested by BuzzFeed story-tellers,” he wrote.
Robbins’ legal representation has threatened legal action which they say will have a “devastating impact on the financial condition of BuzzFeed and its investors.”