Tuesday: Review: Paula Deen Scandal

What a sizzling topic this is in my neck of the woods, Conservative Central California.  I have never watched a Paula Deen show, nor am much of a cook, but I must be a party of one in my neighborhood.  No matter where I go, the folks in my area discuss the Paula Deen Scandal at every social gathering.

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Since I couldn’t sleep tonight I decided to surf the net for free and learn what all the brouhaha is.  Huffington Post has many articles about this delectable disgrace, including a slide show with videos that have shown on various TV shows.  I also used Twitter to  check out what is being said about her.  It seems like we have the Civil War ready to break out in financial support of removal of support for Paula Deen, who admitted to using racial slurs 30 years ago (when it was so acceptable?) 2013 – 30 = 1983.  hmmm 1983 – 20 = 1963  This year at our CCSS Conference we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 50 year March in Birmingham, part of the nation’s Civil Rights Movement.  I doubt that even 20 years after the March that issues of civil rights were thoroughly settled in Paula Deen’s state of Georgia.

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The folks that live around me are upset because the racial slurs took place 30 years ago and she is being held accountable for them.  I will admit that 30 years is a very long time.  Many people were not born 30 years ago.  Paula Deen was not one of them.  Thirty years ago Paula Deen was not as famous as she is now.  She could freely say almost anything she wanted to in a private setting with immunity, as most of us do.  Let’s do a little more math.  66 years – 30 years = 36 years old.  Paula Deen was not a child when she used racial slurs privately or publicly.  To most children at that time, she would have been considered an old woman.  My fourth graders asked me if I was old when I was 38 because I was always “forgetting everything.”  They sometimes accidentally called me “Grandma,” when I was student teaching at age 35.  My point is that even though she admitted using racial slurs 30 years ago, she would not have been exonerated as a minor.  She used them in a still volatile time, but she was not famous.

Matt Lauer pointed out that this entire affair was important because of the financial implications, and that is where the battle rages.

Stores removing Paula Deen from their shelves has at least a two-fold effect.  1)  If you dislike what she admitted to saying, you probably say, “Good for them.  That’s what she gets.”  Jessica Williams did a comedy routine on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart that I enjoyed.

2)  If you think it is silly for Paula Deen to be held accountable for something she said 30 years ago in private, you probably say, “I’m going to quit going there (for a while – until the next sale – or this scandal blows over).  I think I’ll go buy one of Paula Deen’s book.  That will show them.”

Paula Deen Signs Copies Of Her New Book "Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible"

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I’m not even going to ask your stand in this issue.  You are welcome to leave a comment.  I’m not sure even how I feel about it, for several reasons, and I’ll tell you those.

  1. I am white.  I do not KNOW or UNDERSTAND how it feels to be racially discriminated against as an African-American person.
  2. I am 61 years old.  That is just five years younger than Paula Deen, and in the 60s, five years made a lot of difference, in the 80s – no difference.  We are Baby Boomers.  Our parents/grandparents were the prejudiced ones.  Right?
  3. I have said and done bad things in the past – some not nearly so long ago as 30 years which, to me, are much worse than what Paula Deen did.
  4. I grew up in Indiana.  Until not too very long ago I blamed South for “practicing slavery.”  I was proud that my ancestors fought on the “right” side of the Civil War.
  5. During my Civil War tour JUST two years ago, and during subsequent reading and study, I learned how the North profited from slavery just as much as the South by processing the cotton, by creating financial institutions controlled much of the money earned by Southern slave owners, and in many other ways were guilty of directly or indirectly perpetuating the institution of slavery.
  6. As a child, I heard my father and grandfather use the N word in private.
  7. I remember being with my grandparents when the newscaster on the radio announced the passage of the laws for school desegregation.  My normally calm, easy-going Grandpa was furious.  I was upset that he was so mad because I loved Grandpa more than just about anyone in the world.  Since I hadn’t heard anything on the radio which seemed so upsetting, I asked him why it made him so mad..  He explained that when I was seven, we had moved to a “good” school district so that my brother and I could have the best education possible, and now that was being undone by these “unfair” laws.  I felt disquieted about how my idol had reacted to the news.
  8. I remember when I was about 9, several of the neighbors on my street purchased the house on the corner so that an African-American family would not move there.  At the time I remember thinking, “I’m glad my parents didn’t take part in  that!”
  9. My mother and Grandfather were heavy, and had heart problems.  I never want to become obese even though I love sweets.  That means that cooking eating Paula Deen style may be tasty, but I don’t want to practice it.  My best friend’s daughter used to cook dinners for us.  She LOVED Paula Deen’s recipes.   I gained 25 pounds while we had the best dinners of my life.  I had to take some serious weight loss medication to lose it, and I will never let myself reach that weight again.

I haven’t said much when my friends and neighbors pontificate about Paula Deen’s situation.  I would hate to be in her shoes.  If I were famous, I’m sure that enough dirt could be unearthed about me to put me on the hot seat, and I would hate that.  I think I’ll stay under the radar.  I also think Paula Deen may suffer huge losses in future income, but she is 66 years old, and if she retired tomorrow, I don’t think her world would end.  A lot of income for a lot of people who work for her would permanently evaporate, though.  So the question is, will the Paula Deen Empire crash.  I think Paula will survive whether or not her business survives.    She has a tremendous support system.  I suspect that her corporation will also survive, but it will definitely change.  Right now it is hemorrhaging.  During triage tourniquets, and stitches will hold things together until she can rebuild.  She will suffer heavy consequences, but my guess is that she and her business will survive this hailstorm.

Bigger questions loom in my mind.   Will we Americans learn our lesson?  Will we continue to polarize ourselves, jump on bandwagons, and react like mobs?  Will there still be racial enmity in the United States?  I think Paula Deen will be just fine.  I’m not so sure about the rest of us.

Here are some articles I REVIEWED to write this editorial piece.

24 thoughts on “Tuesday: Review: Paula Deen Scandal”

  1. Great post! Many of my Southern blog friends have found the entire thing ridiculous. We either go overboard to the point of being farcical or do nothing when something’s really important.

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  2. I, like you, know practically nothing about the woman other than she’s noted for having a television cooking show. I don’t know enough to weigh in on what’s she’s accused of. Apparently, most of the accusations come from a court deposition. It might do a lot of folks good to read the deposition (which I’m sure is available on line by now) in order to have at least a firm grasp of what’s being alleged.

    That said, while the “N-word” is definitely verboten in nearly all public settings, it undoubtedly is used in private – just as the less-inflammatory “honkey” is used to denigrate whites. I’ve always seen the use of both words as a mark of ignorance, and generally it’s the less educated who are the ones I see employing the terms.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that the mainstream media isn’t cutting Paula Deen any slack. In the screen shot above from the Today Show, the caption under Matt Lauer reads “Paula Deen Cancels Today Interview” / “Famed Chef Cites ‘Exhaustion’ as Reason”

    The quote marks around the word ‘exhaustion’ is editorializing, plain and simple, even if it’s subtle. That’s the Today Show’s way of saying that Paula Deen is making up an excuse for not being on the program. I don’t watch the Today Show so I don’t know how standard such editorializing is, but I imagine it’s reserved for individuals who are currently out of favor, rather than, say, a sitting president or popular musician who chose to beg off an interview because they didn’t want to face questioning.

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    1. You noticed the subtleties that I missed, like the quote marks around the word exhaustion. I agree with you analysis totally. I also didn’t know what the word honkey meant. I thought it was a kind of music – honkey tonk! I’m wondering how someone can have as much education as I do, and be so uneducated! :) BTW I’d love to publish some of your articles as guest blogs on my new history blog, tchistorygal.blogspot.com, if you wouldn’t mind. I’m looking for articles on WWI and WWII especially. Marsha :)

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      1. I’m flattered that you’d want to publish some of my posts. By all means, if any are relevant you’re more than welcome to them.

        As far as having lots of education and feeling uneducated, remember the quote often attributed to Will Rogers: “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.”

        The key, I believe, is realizing you don’t know it all.

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      2. You, unfortunately, are in the minority in terms of awareness.

        As I’m sure you know, most folks stop really learning by their mid-20s, it seems. Except for life’s hard lessons, and many of those don’t sink in.

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      3. If that’s true, I’m a gonner! I’m way past my 20s! Maybe it seems that way because young people “know it all,” and as we age, we realize there is SOOOOOO much more we don’t know, and we run out of time trying – or some probably quit trying. Actually we all quit trying in some areas. I quit believing I could actually play the piano WELL before I ever hit my teens. I thought I’d give it a go again in my 40s and I really worked at it. It was embarrassing because I played at church – in the evening when few people came. hmmm My husband WOULDN’T come! :)

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    1. I agree, there are way to many for me to determine how I feel about it. It’s not like she was a “stupid” young person, but it was 30 years ago. This is one for the history books to sort out. :) Thanks for reading. I am slow to getting around to reading today.

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  3. I thought all the Paula Dean business was way overblown. I figured it was alleged that a old school southern bell dropped the N bomb a time or two. Not a big deal, let the woman live her life, I thought. Turns out there’s much more.

    Summary:
    The person suing isn’t black. She’s a ‘”white female” who was subjected to years of abuse and was finally fed up with her [Paula’s] black employees being treated like animals’

    Paula Deen, while planning her brother’s wedding in 2007, was asked what look the wedding should have. She replied, “I want a true southern plantation-style wedding.” When asked what type of uniforms the servers should wear, Paula stated, “well what I would really like is a bunch of little n*ggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around;

    Black staff had to use the back entrance to enter and leave restaurant;

    Black staff could only use one bathroom;

    Black staff couldn’t work the front of the restaurants;

    Brother Bubba stated his wishes: “ I wish I could put all those n*ggers in the kitchen on a boat to Africa”;

    Bubba asked a black driver and security guard “don’t you wish you could rub all the black off you and be like me? You just look dirty; I bet you wish you could.” The guy told Bubba he was fine as is;

    Bubba on President Obama: they should send him to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, so he could n*gger-rig it;

    He shook an employee (Black again) and said” F your civil rights…you work for me and my sister Paula Deen;

    Paula’s son Jaime’s best friend managed the Lady & Sons restaurant. He threatened to fire all the ‘Monkeys’ in the kitchen. When Paula found out…she slapped him on the wrist and suggested that the employee visited Paula’s $13,000,000 mansion so he felt special and could be massaged.

    The thing that annoys me even more about the whole thing is the “apology tour” she is on. SHe should have apologized once then sat down and been quiet until the lawsuit/trial was over with.

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    1. Those are some very serious accusations, and they sound current, not 30 years ago. I didn’t read anything that graphic while I was searching last night, but I would readily admit that I am not the expert. I read what I linked at the end of the article. Than’s for your comment. :)

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  4. I had never heard of Paula Deen before. 30 years is a long time and my interest would be whether she still holds the same views today as she did then. Nelson Mandela was released in 1990. He was the symbol of the breakdown of apartheid in South Africa. I wonder how many white South Africans still support apartheid in private. Most I am sure do not. But did they welcome the change? People do change and being over the age of consent does not preclude her from changing her values. People “find” religion at all ages. There was a dreadful programme on TV in Britain, probably in the 70s. It was called Love Thy Neighbour. It featured two families living next door to one another. One family black, the other family, white. They called one another honkies and chocolate drops. It cannot be aired today. It was poking fun at racism but nevertheless it is regarded as unacceptable for public viewing. I doubt we will ever rid the world of racism or many of the other -isms that we perpetrate. This probably falls into the category of “he who has not sinned cast the first stone” or whatever the good book says. and Amen to that.

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    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Andrew. I think you are right. Racism seems to be part of our human nature. When I think of racism, I think first to the African American issue. Out here people refer more to Mexican-American issues, and when I talk to my friend Elane, she talks about Anti-Semitism. Most of my Mexican-American kids have a hard time thinking about whites being racist towards each other – using the outward characteristics of noses! Hello – how unreliable is that!? For that matter, no outward characteristic are utterly reliable, so what makes us judge people, stereotype them, and follow it all up with hatred, name-calling, and worse? We are just not sure of ourselves, and confident in our own abilities to succeed, so we hurt others to feel strong.

      You are right, people change, or they try to hide their “real thoughts” because they are not politically correct, as in your example of the TV show. I’m not sure in the case of Paula Deen. One of my other commenters cited several more recent examples, it seems, but I haven’t researched them, so I can’t speak to their legitimacy. Thanks again for the comment. :)

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  5. I have seen stuff on the net about her, but knew nothing, seems her saying something or even thinking it 30 years ago is silly really. I would imagine she is admitting it now because she has changed her view, isn’t that good. Many of us grew up with racial views, but you work through them and change. Seems like this woman is being targeted for some silly reason.

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    1. I think it has a lot to do with finances. A lot of people use racial slurs, but if they don’t have money, the rest of the world doesn’t hear about it. That doesn’t make it right, but frankly if you want success, it comes at a price. The other side of that is that NONE of us should use slurs EVER – about anyone! That is stupidity that is easy to control. :)

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      1. Yes, the more famous you are the less you get away with anything. It doesn’t make it right, but that is how it is. No one should, but you find that many people still think that way, they just don’t say it out loud anymore. I wish it was easy to control, but there are racist people everywhere, even our governments help, well maybe more on religion, but still sort of racist, look at how Muslims are being portrayed these days.

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      2. I think it is a character flaw of human nature to pick on somebody else to make one’s own self feel important. I think I have spent my life TRYING to do the opposite. I have been picked on, but frankly not much, considering that my handicap is obvious – being right on my face.

        But the kind of thing that happens, in the case of prejudice against a group of people, is almost an institutional or mob type bullying based on specific physical characteristics, in this case color of skin. I think it is motivated by fear in the first place, then why it’s perpetuated, I don’t know. The folks involved become co-actors in the generations-old drama, I think, until, and if, the actors somehow quit responding the same way to the triggers. I think that’s what happened in the 1960s, and suddenly it wasn’t acceptable any more to go with the old script. The script changed. But old habits die hard, and tend to come back. The other actors in the drama have to be vigilant not to pick up their old parts in the script, and fall back into the old ways.

        You are right about the Muslims, but those of us who are aware of the fear tactics and the “scripts” of the past, need to be vigilant not to pick up the same attitudes, and allow it to escalate. If we do, we will head right for another major war, and with the technology available now, it will be disastrous!

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  6. I wish we could get to a time when some minority would not blow something we have said or done out of all proportion in outrage! It seems like someone is always offended by something & quite frankly I’m tired of it! Can’t we all just get along? I know my question seems frightfully immature, but maybe, just maybe it’s very deep & the solution to a great number of our problems.

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    1. I wish we could all get over prejudice as well. The solutions are difficult because people do handle things differently. Some people do get over things, and just overlook slights and insinuations. I’m sure for those people, the insinuations decrease as people get to know them. But they are there. If not based on color, then we humans find something else to pester about. I was lucky. I got pestered much more about being flat chested than having a bilateral cleft lip. That’s the closest to discrimination I ever experienced. I grew up in Barbie doll era, so of course, that was the perfect culture! :)

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