We Are All Paula Deen

Paula Deen

I didn’t say it to his face.

I have watched recent news reports on Paula Deen and her admission of using the N word.  Many have admonished her for her truthfulness but after reading the transcript of her deposition, my conclusion is what bothers people is that she was not more rueful and contrite in her admission.

Let’s face it, any white American who says he has never used the N word is lying. If you’re a white person reading this blog, you know you have allowed the N word to “slip” out of your mouth at one point or another–that is the reason why I will not spell out the word in this post.  I  remember taking my sister to Carnegie Hall to watch Jay-Z perform and it was the first time that I ever noticed that I was surrounded by mostly white people at a Jay concert.  As we waved our hands in non-unison belting out Jay’s lines, there was no moment of silence when we got to the parts with then N word. The white people unapologetically belted out the N word.

There are areas throughout the U.S. where the use of the N word is acceptable as long as a black person isn’t in earshot. Similarly, the word bi*ch has almost become a household term to reference a woman we dislike.

I’m sure that behind closed (or open) doors all of us have used a derogatory word to refer to a group of people. So why are we up in arms when Paula Deen admits what many white people have been guilty of doing for hundreds of years? It is evident that the Food Network and Smithfield Foods view Deen’s comments as bad PR. But when we punish someone for doing something that we have all done one or more times in our lives, aren’t we perpetuating a false sense of reality?

We all want to believe that racism was eradicated with the election of Barack Obama.  The U.S. Supreme Court decided in a landmark case related to Voting Rights Act, that our country had moved away from needing the federal government to monitor states’ race discrimination in voting.  Is someone a racist because they use a racial slur to refer to a person behind closed doors?  Deen’s statement was ignorant, but it would be a giant leap to assume that she is racist based solely on her use of the N word.  Just as I have no opinion on who someone chooses to sleep with, I also don’t care what they choose to say in the confines of their home or when speaking privately with their peers.  What I expect is that any person I encounter understands that they will respect me irrespective of whether they call me the N word or a bi*ch in private.

Paula Deen’s followers will likely continue to purchase her products and most will not know or care about what she admitted to in her deposition; and those who do know can opt to not patronize her.  What are we to learn from this?  People say ugly things. As long as they don’t demonstrate the sentiment behind their derogatory words, we should be less concerned.


11 Responses to “We Are All Paula Deen”

  1. B Ali Says:

    Let me start by saying, that I Have absolutely never used a deragatory term, racial slur, ect., to describe a group of people or person. I am from the South, and funny enough, I have heard long before this came up that Paula Dean was “racists.” I think she was very honest during her depo, because she is who she is. My Dad once told me a story about working on a deck so many years ago in South Carolina with a few white men. At one point one of the men processed to say to my Dad and his friend as the n-word. My Dad did not waste anytime whipping his a$$. The white men left and said they would be bak with guns. my Dad and his friend stayed. when the white men returned, they had guns, but something came over one of them, probably fear at this point, he told my Dad that he honestly did not know the n-word was offensive to blacks. He said he had refered to the blacks in his part of the island as the n-word all the time. He also let my Dad know that he had never had a butt whipping like that in his life, and that he wouldnt have o worry about him using that word toward him again. This man never said he would not say it again, but this is a word that was ingrained in him. As sad as it is, it’s true. Paula Dean is living how she grew up. Lucky for her, she is not fired because of saying the n-word. She was fired because of her setting up a policy where her black workers had to go around the back to access the resturant. She is fired because her black workers have seperate bathrooms. More than her saying the n-word, it’s her policies, the way she behaves that shows you who Paula Dean really is. So what as you say, she uses the n-word…did you know she wanted to put plan a slave themed wedding? Actually, that goes on in South Carolina as well. I knew of an heiress who ha a slave themed wedding. She is from a town in Yamassee, SC. This was about, maybe 8 years ago. So, to me, this is more than the use of the n-word. It has everything to do with her actions, and how she really feels about black people that make her a racist.


    • LIST Says:

      Thanks for the insight B Ali! I read the portion of the deposition where she mentioned using the N-word to describe to her husband who the man was that had a gun at her head. I also read the portion about the wedding she wanted to have and I am still up in the air about her response. Don’t get me wrong, I think her statements were ignorant, but not sure why we are all in an uproar.


  2. Tiffany Says:

    I agree and disagree with that statment. Yes her followers will continue to support her, and ABSOLUTELY yes she isn’t the first white person to EVER use the N-Word. HOWEVER, as a celebrity in the public eye she should be held to a higher standard and they need to stop giving this asswagon a platform to say “Sorry not sorry” for being ignorant. For example, Tiger Woods was not the first man to EVER cheat on his wife, Mike Vick wasn’t the first person to EVER be convicted of Dog fighting but the way the media made them into monsters translated into how the public treated (continues to treat them). They aren’t making her a monster because we live in a world where US senators can call the President a Tar baby. Its acceptable racism. Am I sensitive to that word? Probably not as much as I should be, but society pretends to be. We all know the history and what that word means coming from a southerner, what I do as a civilian isn’t the worlds business. She is a celebrity…If Oprah used the term “Poor White Trash” it would be all over every station, there would be a call to boycott her network and some more stuff.


  3. MJ Says:

    I don’t care about her racist thoughts or opinions. Yes, we all harbor racial biases. However, we should always be concerned when these thoughts manifest in our actions. It may be the case that biased thoughts will inevitably manifest into biased/racists actions; however, we ALL have a heightened responsibility to keep those thoughts in check. I don’t know the full story on Paula Deen beyond the reporting that she used the “N-word,” but to the extent she had more than a thought about that word, as B. Ali alludes to above, I am not Paula Deen.


  4. Anonymous Says:

    Agree with the analysis that her policies deem her more of a racist that the use of the N-word. I also agree that the US has a habit of holding politicians and celebrities to a “higher” standard, and often opt for making an example out of them (e.g. Mike Vick) when they fall from grace. Not saying it’s right or wrong, but certainly a cultural trend. Paula Deen shouldn’t be treated any differently for the sake of cultural consistency.


    • Donna Says:

      I wish we would make this much of a fuss about Deen’s recipes – now those are harmful – to both blacks and whites.


  5. Tyson Says:

    I agree with B Ali’s comments that Deen is being judged, at least in part, on her segregation practices, her white supremacy,
    It is these practices, coupled with her use of derogatory language, that suggest Deen is a person who treats blacks and dogs similarly.

    She is the type of person who love dogs, not because they would sleep with dogs. Rather they like dogs because dogs never say “no.” When you want to go jogging with someone in January, the dog does not say it is cold. When you want to jog in the rain, the dog does not say no. If you want the big piece of chicken, the dog does not say that is selfish.

    Put more to the point, for Deen and her great grandfather, blacks, like dogs, are a psychological crutch. But, implicit in this is that blacks, like dogs, are not entirely homo sapiens. It is her admitted white supremacy I judge her on. I do not judge her on her word usage.


  6. B Ali Says:

    I totally agree with MJ and Tyson. I was actually doing a few things at once while typingy response this morning. I hoped that I would get my point across, and it seems like I was able to express my thoughts, and they were understood…all while spelling that woman’s last name wrong.


  7. closeddooropenwindows Says:

    I think the Deen discussion is lost if the focus is only on her use of the N-word. First, let’s be clear about the fact that the use of certain terms are NEVER going to be acceptable in the workplace, which is the basis of the suit against her among other things. I don’t care what we eventually decide is acceptable language in popular culture, the N-word will NEVER EVER be acceptable in the workplace. Her “sentiment” as you call it is more reflected in the parts of the transcript where she unapologetically admits to fantasizing about hosting a plantation-style wedding with all black servers like they did around the Civil War in 2007…2007!! Not 40 years ago, not 30 years ago but she had this desire in 2007. Her “sentiment” is further displayed in her recorded interview from Fall 2012 where she speaks sympathetically about her great grandfather’s plight when his workers (aka slaves) were freed. In that same interview, she calls her “black friend” onto the stage and jokes that he is as black as a chalk board. While these instances don’t necessarily make her a racist, they do necessarily make her ignorant. They also shed light on her sentiment. When you make the focus about her use of the N-word alone, you lose sight of what she really said in all those other seemingly non offensive statements. i think you also have to look at her sentiment in the GMA interview she finally appeared for after hiring Judy Smith (Olivia Pope) to help clean up her image. The “tears” were forced and the focus really was on her and her feelings, not the feelings of the people who she may have offended. If this incident is proof of anything (because we will never get to the bottom of Deen’s true self), it’s proof that we do not live in a post racial America, regardless of the race of our President.


    • LIST Says:

      Great points! I penned the blog prior to many of the new allegations came to the forefront which is why the focus was on her use of the N-word. When I read the portion of the transcript where she mentioned the wedding, I thought it was influenced by her desire to mimic the restaurant setting.

      But in light of the new information, I may go in and update the post. I agree that we do not live in a post-racial society and I believe that we are all race-conscious in some way (and will always be). Thanks for your insight!


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