Embattled self-help guru Tony Robbins has found himself in a new round of trouble after a video from the 1980s resurfaced showing him repeatedly using the N-word during a story about audience members he described as “militant black.”
The video was published by BuzzFeed News more than a week after the outlet detailed a number of allegations of sexual misconduct from the motivational speaker. The newest video shows a young Robbins speaking to a small audience in the 1980s and describing an encounter he had with what he described as angry black audience members. Robbins said the audience members questioned why he only used “white examples” in his teachings, and Robbins said he admonished them for taking offense to matters of race.
“As long as someone calls you a n***er 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,” Robbins told the audience. “You have no control in your life. You are still a slave.”
Robbins then told the audience “just do what I do just for a minute if you really want to be free and if you want to have some fun.” The video then shows Robbins dancing on stage as he said, “I’m a n***er, you’re a n***er, be a n***er too.”
Robbins explained that the technique took the edge off the crowd, and others joined in singing, “I’m a honky” and that by the end of the exercise, black and white audience members were hugging.
A lawyer representing Tony Robbins issued a statement about the video to BuzzFeed News, saying the presentation was positive and that it was “absurd and false” to insinuate that Robbins is racist or insensitive to the African-American community.
The video surfaced as Robbins was already battling allegations of verbal abuse and sexual harassment toward his staffers and audience members seeking to get help from him. The original report from BuzzFeed News included accounts from many close to the self-help guru, including staffers who said they were made to take notes and tend to Robbins while he was naked in the shower or his hotel room.
The report also included secret recordings that allegedly show Robbins verbally attacking victims of rape and domestic abuse who were seeking help at his high-priced events. Of one woman who had been raped, Robbins was recorded as saying, “She’s f***ing using all this stuff to try and control men,” per a transcription found on Document Cloud.