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Stick a Fork in Paula; She's Done!...Or Not!
In the past few days you would have to have been underneath a rock not to have heard about Paula Deen's empire melting like her beloved butter. But in the event you have been under a rock, here's the deal on Deen. She's facing allegations of racism. Allegations that she vehemently denies! Paula says that she believes every creature on earth...was created equal.
These allegations stem from a lawsuit brought on by a former female managerial employee who accused "The Butter Queen" and "Brother Bubba" of committing acts of violence, discrimination and racism. Paula believes there is something evil out there that wants what she has. I believe it's safe to say Paula that there are millions of people out there, not necessarily evil, who would love to be in your "kitchen" - pre racism scandal, of course!
Because of these allegations the celeb chef has been "kicked to the curb" by fans and many of her business partners- The Food Network, Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, QVC, Caesar's Entertainment, Smithfield Ham and Novo Nordisk, K-Mart, Sears and Walgreens!
I've read many articles and blogs and I watched some of Paula's Today Show interview and I can't figure out what all the drama is about. I mean, I'm not sure if the "punishment fits the crime." From what I can make out it evolves around her using the word "nigger" in 1986. Yes! You read it right. I actually spelled out the word. None of that "n-word" stuff. Paula was working in a bank when it got robbed. The robber held her hostage by holding a gun to her head. Paula says she knew the man because she had helped him secure a loan. She said that when she was telling her husband about her ordeal, she used the word "nigger" to describe the man.
This is something that I've witnessed quite a few times in my lifetime, "good people" who would not normally use a racial slur, but believe they have the "right" to do so when they've been violated. I've heard white and Latino people describe the black person they got into a car accident with as a "nigger" and I've heard blacks use the word "cracker" or "honky" when they believed they've been violated by a white person. Just recently I witnessed a co-worker referring to the girl at Dunkin Donuts who messed up his order as a "dot head"! In my opinion, there is never a good time or the right time for racism.
I find racial slurs repulsive. They're pejoratives used by small minded people to try and make other people feel small. Racial slurs remind me of something my grandmother once told me when I asked her about 'black magic'. She told me it was something used by insecure people to try and control other people and it had no power as long you didn't believe it!
Paula admits to using the word. Of course she has! She's a sixty something year old Southern white woman. She was raised during Jim Crow. An era where restaurants, restrooms, water fountains, buses and just about every other public place was segregated. During the Jim Crow era the use of the word "nigger" was so commonplace that the stench from the word lingered in the air along side the sweet fragrance from the magnolia trees. In short, it was normal and everywhere!
Not defending Paula, but she is a product of her environment. That is evidenced by her even thinking about having black male waiters dress up like slaves for a themed wedding. Even though Paula squashed the idea, I believe that only a racist person would even think of something like this to begin with. It's like when a friend asked me why does my husband cut our lawn and not get a "Mexican" like everyone else! What?! This friend is a nice person and I've never known her to do any harm to anyone. She's very involved with our church and very generous and yet she made such a racist remark without batting an eye. When I called her on it, she looked confused. She countered by telling me that wasn't a racist comment, but a "truism". Everyone knows that Koreans own the nail salons and beauty supply stores. she said , Indians own the Dunkin Donuts... If my friend were a public figure like Paula and had made those very same comments, she would be experiencing the same fate as Paula. Everyone thinks that way my friend added but not everyone wants to admit to it outside of their "safe circles". I must say that I had to secretly agree with her. I've always believed that everyone of us has a little of Archie Bunker and George Jefferson in them. The message that we seem to be sending now is it's okay to think and feel that way, but for God's sake, DON'T SAY IT!
This has got to be devastating to Paula to say the least. Financially, I'm sure she's going to be fine, but when your character is under attack and the very people who were telling you how fabulous you were yesterday are now abandoning you, it has got to feel like a stab in the back and so lonely! My concern is that these same companies that are distancing themselves from Paula because her alleged racist attitude does not reflect their view - and let me add, that is commendable that they have a zero tolerance for racism- but are their private boardrooms a mirror image of their public views?
Paula does have die hard supporters though. These supporters have catapulted her book - a book that is not due to be published until October, I might add- to record sales. And though these corporations and fans have jumped ship, her annual Paula Deen Cruise has been so much in demand that the cruises' organizer, Alice Travel, have added an extra departure for next year!
Paula will rebound. She has one of the best crisis management teams in the country working for her and she can still cook. She'll make the media rounds and I believe she will eventually appear on Oprah and that will be her coup de gras! Eventually the business partners will come back and perhaps some new ones and some new fans! No, Paula is not done!
I may be down, but I'm not out y'all! I is what I is! (In my Paula Deen voice.)