The Deen Syndrome: Paula Deen and hidden racism
Of course Paula Deen is racist!
So, not only is Paula Deen a diabetic, she’s also a racist! Duh! I recently watched some videos of some Ms. Deen’s shows on YouTube. It struck me that I knew Ms. Deen and had been invited to her house many times as a young person in Texas. She’s one of those Southerners whose voice drips of condescension as they speak to you. If you ask Ms. Deen, she is not a racist and does not condone racism and therein lies the problem with eradicating racism in America. Americans will never get rid of racism because so many people think that it no longer exist or deny their complicity in it.
Deen, if you do not know is the chef who unabashedly sells recipes that are Southern in nature and deadly in consequences when you eat too much of them. She was recently found to have diabetes and it caused a stir on the internet because people pointed to her love of sugar and fat as possible causes for her ailment. Recently, she was sued by the former manager of her restaurant for being racist and sexual harassment (her brother, I assume). She was recorded in a recent deposition saying that she had used the n-word and that she once wanted a wedding where blacks dressed as slaves as they did during the Civil War. She eventually nixed the idea because she thought she would get too much negative publicity.
Deen and people of her ilk, don’t understand that even the thought of having blacks dress up as slaves to serve at a wedding is derogatory and racist. To her, it is a charming idea.
So, what is the danger of people like Deen? 100 years ago, after the Civil War and before Civil Rights, women like Deen stood by and watched as others cheered as people were lynched and entire black communities were burned. She’s the same woman in the 60s who watched as others fought tooth-and-nail to keep blacks segregated. Her advice during that time would have been for blacks to be patient and wait for change. She is the same person today who watches as the Republican Party denigrates immigrants, women, and homosexuals and continues to vote for them anyway.
These are the people, men and women, who stand by and watch racism, vote for racists politicians, and are complicit in their silence. It reminds me of an incident that happen to me in college. I was the first black President of the Lamar University Baptist Student Association. This was during the early 80s and most of the students that attended were white. One student that I worked with was particularly interesting to me because she was very awkward when she spoke to me or talked to me. She was very amicable and I liked her. She stated hated racism and we often spoke about it and how it affected people. However, one day we got into an argument and she later admitted that the first thought that popped into her head was, “How dare that nigger talk to me like that!”
Paula Deen described using the N-word in a similar situation. She was being robbed by a black man with a gun and she admits calling him the n-word later. You see, if when you are harmed by a person, your first thought is to denigrate an entire people, then you are a racist. If the first thing you see when your blonde haired daughter is hanging out with black football player stud is his color, then you have problems with racism.
Many Americans have Deen Syndrome; the ability to not see their own bias and how it affects those around them. Or the ability to completely deny that bias in the face of irrefutable facts and that is what keeps racism alive and well in the United States.