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Opinion: Leave Paula Dean Alone
Yes, I’m African-American…and I no; I don’t agree that Paula Dean should have to potentially lose her economic livelihood due to her alleged use of the dreaded N-word years ago. A year ago, I didn’t even know who Paula Dean was. And that’s my point.
On a daily basis, I’m certain that the non-Paula Deans of America use the word. So too do other celebrities. So too do lawyers, doctors, politicians, police officers, your co-workers…and so to (sadly) do my fellow African-Americans. And their use of the word goes unnoticed not only by myself, but also the majority of Americans as well as those in the media…that is, unless it creates a headline. Because so many people without a doubt use the N-word, I am forced to wonder just exactly who’s life is so devoid of purpose that they have either the time or the interest to know just who is using the word on a regular basis?
A couple of weeks ago, I saw Dean being grilled by anchor Matt Lauer on NBC’s The Today Show as part of her attempt to set the record straight (as it were) insofar as her “real” personality and her side of the story. As I watched, I found myself asking, how do I know whether or not Matt Lauer himself used the N-word in private company? How do I know whether the woman who applied Dean’s makeup anticipation of the interview uses the word?
From what I understand, the allegations stem from a lawsuit by a former Dean employee—a white employee—who contends that Dean dropped the N-bomb to describes African-Americans in past conversations. One of the explanations I heard in Dean’s defense is that she used the word when she her some of her black employees use the word in talking to each other (something I myself cannot understand why my fellow blacks use the word toward each other. I chalk it up to a lack of teaching about the history of the black experience in America toward the current generation).
It’s simply too much of a burden to keep myself wondering whether or not “he’s” a bigot, whether “she’s” a racist, or whether “they” hate me. I have my own struggles, my own problems, and my own goals. And I definitely am not going to go around grilling my fellow Americans on whether or not they are tolerant of differences. Life is too short, and the mindset of another is simply too irrelevant an issue in my personal life to obsess over.
If you’re a bigot, that’s OK with me. Your outlook is just an opinion—albeit a very narrow and small one. If you are walking around here hating others because of your preconceived notions, that’s your cross to bear. Hating others is like taking poison, and expecting another person to get sick—it only hurts you. Paula Dean certainly found out, in an economic sense. However, I don’t think that a person who harbors resentments should have to pay for it by losing his/her economic livelihoods. There are worse people who commit far greater sins, but prosper quite nicely economically-speaking. Unless it creates a an actual (as opposed to perceptual) hostile working environment, directly interferes with the economic commerce of an entity, or negatively and directly impacts the lives of others, others should be allowed to express their opinion—good or bad—without censure or sanction. Because, the truth be told, the overuse of the word by my fellow brothers and sisters is far more unbearable to myself than when a Paula Dean uses it from a foundation of stupidity.
To cut off Paula Dean’s economic bloodline because of her questionable judgments surrounding her use of the N-word is to potentially cut off my own livelihood because of my opinions. Furthermore, to always say that “I’m offended” whenever someone says something that we don’t like is another way of saying, “Someone needs to control my feelings because I cannot control them. I need someone to always say kind and acceptable things because I’m not mature enough to handle something as inconsequential as a difference of opinion makes me ‘feel.’”