I have been following the Paul Deen controversy and subsequent fall out that started after a discrimination suit was filed by her employees who alleged that they were subject to “violent, sexist, and racist behavior” during five years working for Deen’s various businesses.
During a videotaped deposition as part of that discrimination suit, she discussed her desire to have a “very southern style wedding” for her brother modeled after a restaurant where the “whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men” clad in white jackets and black bow ties. Deen also admitted to having used the N word and discussed the ways the word could be “not said in a mean way.”
As a result of her practiced racism, a bunch of sponsors, including the Food Network, Smithfield Foods and now even the experts in racism itself, Wal mart, have dropped her ass.
Last week she was on The Today Show spewing all sorts of unapologetic, high grade racist garbage Southern style, including how she would not have fired herself for using racial slurs and engaging in employment discrimination (naturally), and how “every one of God’s creatures was created equal. I believe that everyone should be treated equal, that’s the way I was raised and that’s the way I live my life” blah blah blah yawn, liar, bullshit.
There was a lot of crying and sobbing, undoubtedly because she is losing all these easy millions from lost business opportunities and not because she feels any kind of regret for her behavior as is abundantly clear by her cringe worthy interview with Matt Lauer.
Her defenders have charged to her rescue thinking everyone is overreacting for going after her for something she said 30 years ago and that poor thing was being held at gun point by a black person after all, and she didn’t say it to him, she said the N word to her husband later, plus she is from the South and this is how she grew up etc etc. All the interesting, colorful and pathetic excuses for racism you have ever heard were employed in Deen’s case trying to apologize and rationalize her behavior – as if racism wasn’t harmful and hurting people, even if such racism is expressed and practiced by pouncy-cheeked, rosy, pastry chefs from the good old South. Here is the thing:
1) If racist slurs come to your mind when you’re angry or pissed off at someone who happens to be a member of a racial or ethnic minority, then that is a fucking problem! And that problem is that somehow you seem to think – and thus have rationalized in your head – that using racial slurs is ok as long as those slurs are not said aloud and/or directed at someone to whom they apply. When you rationalize in your head that using racist slurs, especially in private, is ok then you have basically just granted yourself that permission – which makes it a conscious choice on your end. When you have the choice to do one thing, you also have the choice to not do it. I may get pissed at a driver who happens to be black for cutting me off on the freeway, but then I flip him off and call him an asshole, not the N word.
2) Racism harms people. And as we have seen in Deen’s case, her racism was not just confined to her personal, private realm or between her and her husband. The casual racism she practices and which everyone thins is no big deal because she allegedly hasn’t said it to people directly, has obviously translated into discriminatory practices at her businesses. Therefore, this is not just a matter of some old lady having said the wrong thing 30 years ago. This is about a good, old lady having engaged in cold, hard workplace discrimination as a direct result of her racist attitudes and mindsets as well as choices.
3) When you are in the habit of regularly using racial slurs and dream of throwing plantation style weddings with an all black staff whom you pay with beer and, to make matters worse, you go on national TV and keep saying this is who you are and that you won’t change and that you would definitely not have fired yourself for using racial slurs and engaging in employment discrimination, then your behavior harms people on a scale that goes beyond just your immediate circle. That is not ok and we should not condone it or give her a pass because she is old or from the South and set in her ways. I mean, she is not that old. It’s not like slavery ended just 30 years ago.
Racism is a choice, not a compulsion. There is no need to direct ones anger at someone’s individual behavior into an expression of hatred for their race.
This is not about free speech or someone having said something wrong and being punished for it or throwing the first stone if you are the one without sin blah blah blegh. This is about practiced racism by a privileged woman who has been discriminating against her black employees and who thinks it is ok to do so, including romanticizing plantations, because she is from the South and this is just who she is.