lee daniels*Oscar nominated-director Lee Daniels says that it’s possible, especially in the Deep South, for White people to “really love” Black people and still call them “n*ggas,” reports Politico.com.

His revelation came last week during a conversation with National Association of Black Journalists convention in Orlando, Florida.

Daniels addressed the “strategic” use of the n-word in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” as it was used by former President Lyndon B. Johnson against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. He stated that obvious displays of racism can be misleading:

“For me, it was very strategic,” Daniels told a group of reporters at the 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 nigga. 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.”

The most recent debate over the use of the racial epithet surfaced after Paula Deen was fired from the Food Network and lost most of her endorsement by her of the n-word. There has been a debate among Scholars, pundits and critics on whether White people conditioned by slavery, Jim Crow and supremacy in general are considered racist for saying the n-word.

Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton are two high-profile civil rights leaders who publicly supported Deen.

‘Lee Daniel’ The Butler,’ which stars Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, opens August 16th.