Paula Deen admitted to using the n-word "a very long time ago". If you haven't heard all the details, including the part about plantation style weddings and how the media would misinterpret it, you can read about it all here. When the news initially broke, I wasn't incredibly angry at Paula, nor was I surprised... at all. She's an older woman from the South, and after my recent trip to Nashville, I definitely understand that racial tension exists in the South. Bigotry is often bred by bigotry... it's a cycle, and just like abuse, it's typically a tradition passed down from generation to generation. However, I stand by the notion that geography is never an excuse for racism - especially when you've experienced all the things Paula has. Paula Deen has sat on Oprah's couch: one of the most notable, successful, most brilliant black women in the world. To generalize an entire population even after meeting one of the demographic's biggest and brightest is not only ignorant: it's flat out sad.
I took a trip over to Paula Deen's official Facebook page to get a glimpse into what her fans were feeling. I was honestly pretty shocked by the overwhelming number of people defending her, and of course... I had to troll (#theyseemetrollin). Okay, I wasn't really trolling. Trolls piss me off. I simply left a reply to a comment that said something along the lines of, "At least Paula was honest. All of us in the South have said it at one time or another". All I wrote was, "No. Everyone hasn't", and was bombarded by notifications for about an hour straight. What made me angry was the fact that the only people defending her were - you guessed it: white Southerners. I believe that people are people, but in this particular situation, white people from the South will probably not understand the pain Deen's words have caused. Perhaps it wasn't my place to instigate, but honestly - I don't think it's white Americans' place to tell blacks how to feel about a notable public figure using a deeply historical racial slur.
Paula made an apology video. Two, actually, but she deleted the first one. I definitely respect her for admitting to her mistakes and facing it like a woman instead of hiding out and letting it blow over, like a lot of celebrities tend to do. I do not, however, believe a word she says. There is an awful lot of "me", "I", and "my family" in the video, and very few of her 2-minute long ramble feels like it's intention was to soothe anyone's feelings but her own. Most importantly, she fails to address the African American community directly. I think had she addressed the people she most blatantly disrespected, I would have let up on the issue a bit. At least she tried... but she didn't, really. Paula Deen is not sorry she thinks it's funny for black people to serve wedding guests "plantation style". Paula Deen is not sorry for how many of us - black, white, or brown - were hurt by her words. Paula Deen is sorry she got caught.
I think people who use racial slurs - any racial slur - don't deserve a place on television. But honestly, instead of feeling flooded with anger about the situation, I'm actually a little impressed. Why? Because the biggest food channel on cable dropped Ms. Deen because of it, and thousands of my fellow Americans are standing united boycotting a person who said a dirty, disrespectful word. The fact that the nation is in uproar does not mean things are going to be all sunshine and roses - but it certainly shows progress.
I don't have any poor wishes in my heart for Paula Deen. All I hope for her, and the bazillions of others like her, is that they learn something from the situation.
Love and Light -