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The Paula Deen Scandal and How We Should React

Updated on July 1, 2013

An Opinionated Article on What Went Down

Paula Deen was the famous butter queen for decades. She built an empire based on heart-stopping recipes with books, videos, shows and Southern style flair. She had a dedicated following and worked tirelessly on her legacy.

Unfortunately, something she uttered 26 years ago came knocking on her door only recently. She is being sued by a former employee who claims she was racist toward him in a restaurant where they both worked. She admitted in a court of law that she had uttered that evil "N" word years ago while a black man was trying to rob her at a bank.

That's the back story. The story moving forward has many different sides and a number of differing opinions. A common belief is that this is about money. Why is Paula being sued now, when she has a multi-million dollar empire? Why were there no legal actions taken when the incidences happened? It smells suspicious at best.

Additionally, why did Paula Deen admit to using the word just once? What kind of pressure was she under to tell a courtroom, yes, I said it once? At best, it's scary to be on the witness stand. When you are watching your empire crumble, it must be material from the worst nightmares topped with a little horror movie action. She must have been under immense pressure when she admitted to using the word.

However, why did she use the word anyway? Understandably, she was stressed at the time of the robbery. The robber had a gun pointed to her head. Certainly she was scared. However, there are an array of choice words assigned to men behaving badly which can be used over the "N" word. Can we honestly believe that the only word she could think of in that moment was the "N" word?

Using any racial slurs is just unnecessary. Perhaps if Paula had spent a lifetime practicing using different words, she wouldn't be in this situation. Perhaps if she had made the decision to throw out the racial ideas of the old South to make herself a better person in her career, she'd still be growing her empire. Perhaps, if she had given some forethought to how her words affect others, she would still be waking every day to the greatness on which she once stood.

Those are all bygones, however. If any good is to come out of this situation, it should be a lesson learned for every single one of us. Surely Paula Deen will think before she speaks in the future. That poor woman has spent weeks apologizing and begging for fans back over an utterance nearly three decades ago. Moving forward, we should all take her example with us to make our own lives better. There needs to be a positive outcome to this crazy lawsuit.

Dealing with Racial Slurs

There will be no samples of slurs in this article, so you'll have to find out what they are on your own. However, make sure you do find out what they are. Gather them into your memory to make sure you don't use them out of context. Some slurs are common nouns and can be used in everyday language, but English is vast. Replace the slurs in your own language, even within context.

After these words have been struck from your vocabulary, strike them from your home. Be very firm about what words are used within your personal space. Do not allow anyone to use those words in a negative way in your home. Promote an environment of acceptance and peace by insisting these words stay out of your home.

Ignore those who use these words in public or in other environments. Move past the words and change the subject quickly or simply walk away. Do not promote the ignorance of the words by acknowledging them. Let people politely know that these words are not OK with you by moving on with the conversation or simply bowing out of it completely.

If a situation repeats itself and a person continues to use racial slurs around you, go through the proper channels to stop the situation. If the person is a coworker, go to the human resources department immediately. Many businesses have little tolerance for this situation. If the person is in your personal life, the situation must be dealt with in a more delicate manner.

Tell the person that the language is unacceptable. If the language continues, remind the person again and follow up with a warning. Let him or her know the invitations to your home will be revoked if the language doesn't stop. Follow through on that promise until the person apologizes. If the apology never comes, try to move forward and realize that the person is poisoning you with their insensitivity. Certainly this is easier said than done, but it is necessary if you are serious about eliminating hatred in your home.

Let's Just All Get Along

Racial Slurs and Children

Parents need to lead by example to help children avoid using racial slurs. However, parents can't be everywhere with their kids. Kids will hear words and try them out to see what happens. If your child uses a racial slur despite your best efforts, DON'T PANIC. You'll scare your child, and you won't be able to get information from him or her.

Calmly ask your child, "Where did you hear that word?" If you can't get an answer, that's ok - move on. Explain to your child that the word is not an OK word. As with swear words, you don't want your child to feel bad for trying it out - but you do want to make it clear that it's not OK to ever use it again. Simply say, "That word is not one that we use anywhere. We can't say it at home, at school or at the store, OK? I'm not mad that you used it this time but if you say it again you will receive (fill in punishment here)." At this point, the words are just words to your child. It's an exploration tool more than a direct insult.


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    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      I totally agree with you there, it was just shock that this was so long ago, I was under the impression that she said it on tv lately. The trouble is, the way people spoke back then was back then, now we know how horrible it is, but to be sued for something in those times just seems amazing to me, interesting stuff, nell

    • beckieland profile image

      Rebecca Mayglothling 4 years ago from Binghamton NY

      I really think it's because she has money now. The point is, if we don't let the slurs into our vocabulary, they won't come out at times of stress. I can think of many words for the man with the gun but the "N" word wouldn't have even occurred to me.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Living in England I don't know her at all. But I have heard about this, and to be honest I am totally shocked to think this slur happened years ago, with a gun pointed at her head! What?? when you are in a situation of abject fear how on earth can you remember what you say? I know what she said was wrong, but how could somebody sue her for something may or not have been said at a time when she was about to be shot?! this world has gone completely bonkers!