Is Paula Deen a Racist?

I have been following the saga of Paula Deen as she tries to answer cries against her obvious, inbred, Racism, and her multiplicity of firings from many companies as spokesmodel for their brands.  Do we want to punish Bigots and Racists by removing them from the public eye?  Or do we want them to be heard, so they can be forced into public recantations and corrections?  Slate magazine creates this interesting take on the problem of Paula Deen:

Paula Deen is America’s racist grandma, and we should treat her as such. Racist Grandma may be racist, but she’s also your grandma. You can’t just disown her.

And, contrary to what some might think, having a racist grandma isn’t entirely bad. No doubt there are many white families where racism is passed down generation to generation like some cancerous gene. But for others, seeing that gene and knowing you’re predisposed to it is a warning sign, a nagging reminder to take preventive measures for yourself. I say let’s push racist Grandma back to center stage and let her keep talking.

I am fascinated by the conundrum Paula Deen presents.  The easy path is to just remove her and hope she’ll go away; but would that cure her or help the rest of us?  Probably not.  I don’t think Paula Deen really thinks she’s done anything wrong, and that’s why prolonged exposure in her effervescent, public, limelight might help weaken her hardcore Southern upbringing and allow her to see the light in the error of her ways.

We’ve written a lot about race here on Boles Blogs.  Do a simple search for “Nigger” and you’ll get a bunch of on-topic returns.  We never used the word to wound.  We employed the word to try to help divine objectified understanding.

In my article — Hand Me that Bowl of Nigger Toes — I expose my own Paula Deen problem in the guise of my highly educated, pharmacist, grandfather, who died in 1980, and who saw no reason not to invoke the “N-word” in his description of a bowl of nuts:

If you wanted to see dark skin color, and you lived in middle Nebraska, you had to drive four hours East to Omaha — and you did your sightseeing in the car. You never mingled with “them.”

You only observed them — objectified them — and made up stories about them and their wealthy lives on welfare while you “slaved” hard in the hot sun tilling the land. If you traveled to an international hub like Atlanta, then you were overwhelmed with all the “jigaboos” who were “walking around freely” — “Dad! We don’t talk like that here!” — and you locked your car door with one finger while wildly pointing with the other.

I remember not being scared of my grandfather’s objectification of Blacks, but rather by the reaction of my mother to my grandfather’s labeling of Blacks. She was overwhelmed and outraged — as was her sister — and she made it entirely clear that sort of talk was not welcome or acceptable at any time anywhere. I can’t remember my mother ever calling anyone a “jigaboo” and while she never called them “Nigger toes” she did enjoy eating a Brazil nut or two.

Was my grandfather a Racist?  Probably a little bit.

Was he more Racist than Paula Deen?  I don’t think so.

Are there any Racists in your family?  If so, are they aware of their Racism, or do they care not to own the topic?

18 comments

  • It wasn’t too long ago that racial slurs, as well as derogatory terms used to describe homosexuals, flew easily from peoples mouths. I find it outrageous and fake that anyone over the age of about 40 should act so repulsed and shocked that anyone could ever in their lives had used such language.

    I grew up hearing racial slurs on a regular basis. Did I think it was right? No. I remember a day when my mother used the “N” word and I (about 10 at the time) told her what a bad word it was, I think I even corrected her and told her “It’s Negro!” Her answer to me was that I just didn’t understand what the real world was all about. My step father often used words I had never heard before to describe other ethnic groups. I think if most of us white people are completely honest we will admit to hearing racist words tossed around casually at some point in our lives. Which means it is not out side the realm of possibility that some have also used such words or at the very least let the words and phrases waft through conversation without ever being offended for even a second. So, with all this in mind I find it galling that everyone is acting so shocked, deeply disturbed or appalled by Paula Deen’s “use of the word only once in her life” (and THAT – I highly doubt too).

    I do not think Paula Deen is a racist. But I don’t think she should try to make excuses for herself and say the only time she ever used the word was when a black man held a gun to her head – that just gives the impression she is back peddling.

    Further, I believe we all have the right to speak our minds and let the chips fall where they may. If Paula Deen’s fans are truly shocked or disgusted by her words, she will lose her following in a natural flow. I think this is true of all those shock D.J.’s and others who use inflammatory speech or otherwise promote absurd ideas. Let the public make up their own minds. I think we all would like to know exactly what kind of person we are dealing with rather than have everyone walk around censoring themselves, carefully trying not offend while in public, but really thinking and believing something entirely different in private. Fining or punishing someone for using offensive words or expressing ideas we disagree with will not change peoples thoughts or hearts. (I am in no way talking about turning a blind eye when it comes to infringing on rights or liberties based on prejudices of any kind – that is something different.)

    • Wow! I appreciate the energy and fire in your reply, thanks!

      Yes, you’re right. We tend to not recognize the worst of ourselves when expressed in others. We tend to want to put our own experiences and beliefs higher than others when we are really in no shape to try to pretend we don’t have the same faults.

      It’s chilling to me that Paula Deen’s fans — to show their support for her, preordered thousands of copies of her new book even though it isn’t due for publication until October — and yesterday, Random House spitefully canceled that book and four others:

      Despite seemingly strong pre-order sales on Amazon, Paula Deen’s latest cookbook has been canceled prior to its scheduled publication in October.

      “After careful consideration, Ballantine Books has made the difficult decision to cancel the publication of Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up,” read a terse statement from the Random House imprint.

      http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/paula-deens-book-canceled-before-577340

      That makes me think there is some sort of coordinated scheme afoot for these public companies as they seem to find more value in destroying their former Southern Darling than standing by her. You’re only as valuable as your last faux pas, I guess, and even if you apologize, you won’t be forgiven or redeemed. Paula has become the new, public, go-to whipping post for all our social ills, and that’s never a good thing.

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  • Some thoughts from over the pond – I had to go and look up who Paula Deen is ……… my grandma would use her adapted saying ” a storm in someone else’s teacup” – as opposed to “a storm in a teacup”. In other words a problem for someone else!

    it sounds from what you have written that she ought to be able to carry on doing what she is doing as a LIVING example or walking museum exhibit of how far we are supposed to have come.

    What it does show is that it takes far more than rules and regulations, laws, as well as sea change in society to get rid of certain “characteristics” . This type of racism will not die until the last person of that generation dies. The problem of course is we are all living longer and people like her are poisoning the generations that follow.

    • I appreciate your view from afar. I think you’re right about nothing changing until these “old ideas” die — but there are a lot of young Southerners who believe and agree with everything Paula Deen says — so the circle of prejudice and hatred continues…

      My favorite Summer guilty pleasure — Big Brother — is back on the air, and after less than a week of watching the live feeds, the hatred and Racism of these young Americans is just purely disgusting:

      Here are examples, compiled and expanded from the above sources, video clips, and other sources:

      GinaMarie said that, because of her income level, she receives “nigger insurance” (she whispered the n-word, so it’s possible she said the version that ends with “a”). She whispered it to both Nick and Andy, neither of whom challenged her.

      GinaMarie said Helen, who’s Asian, “should be kissing our ass and serving us some fucking rice.”

      Aaryn said of Andy, “No one’s gonna vote for whoever that queer puts up.” She also suggested he’d win MVP because “people love the queers.”

      Aaryn said about Candice, who’s black, “be careful what you say in the dark; you might not be able to see that bitch.” (A month ago, Aaryn tweeted, “Attractiveness comes from inside. What would you look like if your looks mirrored your words and actions?” So much irony.)

      GinaMarie said Candice “gets that fuckin’ blackness,” referring to Candice’s reaction to something that happened in the game.
      Aaryn said of Helen, “Shut up. Go make some fucking rice.”

      Talking about sheets that smelled bad, David said they were that way because “black Candice” was on them, and then admitted, “that was totally racist.”

      Jeremy, who calls the house’s women “bitches,” said of Katilin, “I did touch her vagina today… she didn’t act like she was happy… I like to feel around see what she’s working with… see if it’s a nice meat wallet… I know she’s on her period.”

      Spencer called Andy “Kermit the fag;” Amanda called Andy “Faggoty Ann” (McCrae later called her out for that language, but she defended it).

      Spencer said that the medical torture conducted by Nazi doctors was beneficial and praised Hitler’s speaking abilities, even while acknowledging that he’d be criticized for that.

      Katilin said she likes gay people but they’re “untrustworthy in a game like this.”

      McCrae said, “If I’m talking to a girl, that probably means I don’t want to fuck her.”

      Spencer referred to women as “cunts.”

      GinaMarie said, “you know two blacks stick together. They’re like tokens.”

      http://www.realityblurred.com/realitytv/

      Here’s what Jeremy, the misogynist, Racist, “American Indian” said last night while threatening everyone in the swimming pool:

      Jeremy: I’m going to fuck some stuff up … If you want to get hostile, I’ll get hostile, I’m Cherokee, I slice heads, I cut people … I need a new tepee … I’m about to throw spears at buffalo, and those motherfuckers are buffalo.

      http://www.tvclubhouse.com/forum/read.php?file=/10972/11765434.html&lm=1372685284

      I also watched the Jeremy rant, and at the end, he added this, “When these arrowheads are up, they going to kill somebody. I put these arrowheads on spears and throw them to kill.”

  • I personally have much less objection to her language (in the old days, I too used the Brazil nut term – had no idea what it meant I don’t think – and, as a child, I also used the N-word to describe a particularly far away part of a movie theater balcony – I had NO idea what I was saying) BUT if the allegations are true, her seemingly systematic discrimination against Black employees (and customers?) IS unforgivable to me. I am sure that others have done so as well, which begs the question: Is she a scapegoat? Maybe. Do I think she deserves all the “corporate banishment”. Probably. what a complicated issue this is.

    • It is incredibly complicated, Nancy, and I appreciate your honesty about your past. I was brought up in a family where, “Jew ‘em down” was a commonplace term as well as, “I was gypped.” Both are considered extremely crude and insensitive, but if you never leave the cocoon of your upbringing, you risk never having your beliefs tempted and memes tempered in the real world beyond your hometown.

      I used to be of the mind, “Let the Bigots speak” — because then we know who they are and can shame them into behaving better, but when Bigoted hate speech goes mainstream… Palin, Hannity, Limbaugh and their ilk… we create a mob mentality of “me, too!” and that leads to dangerous new majority connections looking to paint their hatred on the actual objects of their objectification of entire groups of people. That leads to violence and discrimination and sometimes even death.

      Now I’m wonder if it’s better to tell people to keep their hate to themselves. Repress it. Let it eat at them from the inside, and leave the rest of us alone who are all trying to get along with everyone else without bigot instigators trying to separate us.

  • we have to kill the poison as it appears – we need to say it is wrong without viliflying because that makes things worse.

    oooohhh Big Brother – that is one big bad secret there – for me all of those examples are unacceptable and I would turn off or maybe even make a complaint.

    • Yes, you’re right. This sort of ugliness needs to be confronted. I keeping thinking, “What if I were in the Big Brother house? Would I be able to correct people all day long?” I’m not sure that would be smart gameplay, even thought it is the necessary thing to do.

      There’s a Gay guy on the show — Andy — who his friends say is very tough outside that house and stands up to anyone who says anything homophobic, and they’re amazed how he just sits there in the Big Brother house and takes all the generic Gay bashing without saying anything, and the house knows he’s Gay.

      I think that’s interesting about Andy. Yes, he’s militant in the real world, but in the Big Brother house, you have to get along with 15 other people — and everyone is looking for any reason at all to get rid of you — so standing up and standing your ground is a quick ticket home. Morality, it appears, does seem to be fluid in a game without direct outside contact. You’re pretty much in prison, on TV, 24/7.

      What disturbs me is that CBS could easily show what really happens in the house, but they always ignore the Racism and misogyny. By editing it out, they create a false reality that it does not exist, and they create fakery in their prison reality show pretending to be a game show worth $500k to the winner.

      Aaryn, one of the most bigoted in the house, just lost her modeling contract outside the house, so someone is listening, someone does care about the hatred, and someone is doing the right thing and calling her out on it — too bad she won’t find out she’s done until she’s voted out of the house. She currently believes she is being seen as America’s Sweetheart:

      Zephyr Talent of Austin, TX announced on its Facebook page that it will release Aaryn Gries, 22, from her contract after she was seen and heard making hateful comments about fellow participants. “Aaryn, season 15 cast member of Big Brother, revealed prejudices and other beliefs that we (Zephyr Talent) do not condone,” the page reads. “We certainly find the statements made by Aaryn on the live Internet feed to be offensive.

      Any views or opinions expressed in personal commentary by Aaryn, either on any live feed from the House or during the broadcast, are hers alone and do not represent the views or opinions of Zephyr Talent. Upon much consideration, we have decided to release Aaryn from her contract with Zephyr Talent.”

      http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/07/03/big-brother-racism-modeling-agency-dumps-housemate/

  • Really pleased some one is listening and pointing out the obvious to those who can do something – there was an infamous incident in the UK Big Brother house between the now deceased Jade Goody and a contestant of Indian decent Shilpa Shetty – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6282883.stm – I can remember watching it and think BULLYING with a racist hint …….. I have seen and heard far worse on there . You do not get the whole picture through the once a day shows – if you watch the live feed you more or less get the whole picture ………….

    • Yes, I remember that BBUK fight! It was pretty awful.

      CBS’ reply is pretty much the argument, “We have a show to produce for mainstream TV. If you want to see the houseguests, warts and all, pay for the live feeds.” CBS certainly doesn’t do a lot of censoring on the live feeds, so their point is valid as well.

  • That is an interesting viewpoint from CBS – as an aside do many people bet on Big Brother over there ? Just asking because that is a huge advantage to those that bet on the show.

    • People don’t bet on Big Brother here. Too much producer interference. CBS skews the competitions to those they favor. If a popular houseguest is in danger of being voted out, the producers come up with a “special power” that allows them to stay in the house.

      Another one falls!

      “Big Brother” contestant GinaMarie Zimmerman is gonna have a rude awakening when she leaves the house — she’s been FIRED from her day job after dropping the N-bomb.

      TMZ has learned … East Coast USA Pageant, Inc. is cutting ties with the 32-year-old pageant coordinator … claiming they were shocked GZ could “display such acts of hate and racism.”

      As we previously reported, GinaMarie referred to welfare as “n**ger insurance” … and the comments were captured on “Big Brother’s” uncensored live Internet feed.

      East Coast USA says GinaMarie has been an employee for 5 years — but insist, “We have never known this side of GinaMarie or have ever witnessed such acts of racism in the past.”

      The pageant says, “We are actually thankful that this show let us see GinaMarie for who she truly is. We would never want her to be a role model to our future contestants.”

      http://www.tmz.com/2013/07/03/big-brother-ginamarie-zimmerman-fired-day-job-pageant/

  • their five minutes of fame are going to cost them dearly …………

    • Yes, earlier today, they were all getting ready for the live show, and one of the non-fired girls said her favorite cookie was the “Light-Skinned Oreo.”

      One of the other girls said, “You mean the Golden Oreos?”

      She repeated herself, “Yes, the ‘light-skinned’ Oreos, they taste better than the dark ones.”

      All of that was said within a foot of two Black houseguests: One dark-skinned and the other light-skinned. Nobody said anything. It was just treacherous and awful.

  • Well! Here we go… clips of many of the Racist things that have come out of the Big Brother 15 house so far… and I think we’re still in week two…

  • Pingback: Elissa Reilly Slater Wins Big Brother 15! « Boles Blogs

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