In a modern society that recoils from using an old-fashioned adage like, “The pot calling the kettle black for fear of appearing racist, it beggars belief that celebrity cook and author Paula Deen can freely admit to using the ‘N’ word. Claims that Paula is an accidental racist are not hardly credible. The woman is from the south, accidents like using that racially insulting word don’t happen.
Paula Ann Hiers Deen, or Paula Deen to her fans, is an American cook, cooking show host, restaurateur, author, actress and an Emmy Award-winning television personality. Deen resides in Savannah, Georgia, where she owns and runs The Lady & Sons restaurant with her two sons, Jamie and Bobby Deen. She has published fourteen cookbooks. Though married in 2004 to Michael Groover she uses the surname Deen, from her first marriage.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that the 66 year-old Deen had admitted during questioning in a lawsuit that she had used the racially insulting word for black people in the past. Despite the celebrity cook’s admission, one of her fans gushed praise for the woman.
Customer Jennifer Everett from Tyler, Texas said, “Who hasn’t ever said that word? I don’t think any less of her. She’s super friendly. She’s a warm person who wouldn’t hurt a fly.
The admission could well cost the woman who has finagled a fortune out of her “southern charm” and fatty cooking her fan base. She has built an empire on being unapologetic. The world’s most famous Southern cook has spent the last ten years or so cooking, eating, and saying what she wants.
In fact Ms Deen seems to take pride in her “straight-forwardness.” But while the public might forgive the cook for specialising in fat-charged meals that could harm someone with her type-2 diabetes, they will not be so quick to forgive a “straight-forward” case of bigotry, or worse, hypocrisy.
A transcript of Dean’s deposition for the workplace discrimination lawsuit shows just how the “unapologetic” TV cook feels about offending other folks. According to the transcript she said, “I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.”
When asked if she had used the ‘N’ word, she freely admitted to it. She also said that she’s probably used it on more than one occasion. She went on to defend the telling of racial and ethnic jokes. She said, “it’s just what they are, they’re jokes.”
While I will agree that the world is becoming a politically correct paranoiac society, there is no excuse to use racially inflammatory words that not only degrade the people that you are referring to, but in doing so, steps back into Django territory.
The south has always practised its own brand of prejudicial beliefs and traditions. And like most traditions, it is hard to change one that has been around since before the Civil War.
But the question of Paula Deen’s possibly being an “accidental racist” isn’t even worth asking. It hardly seems likely, using stereotypical terms for someone whose pigmentation is darker than yours is not acceptable, whether it was said “accidentally” or not.
Her claims of “not being able to tell what is offensive” are insulting to everyone’s intelligence and don’t help her in the least. In this day and age, there shouldn’t be anyone with that level of ignorance.
With the admission that she has used the word “Probably [sic] on more than one occasion, she has done more damage to, not only herself, but the entire region of the south. That there are still people who aren’t members of the Ku Klux Klan that continue to use the ‘N’ word is disgusting.
Times have moved on and they were moving when the 66 year-old was growing up. In fact, the time period that Deen grew up in, was one of the most violent times in American history with its dealing of racial inequality that was rife in the south.
Ms Dean shouldn’t count on her “down-home” southern hospitality on the television to excuse such inacceptable behaviour. The Christian Science Monitor asked the question of whether this admission could ruin Paula Dean’s career.
Coming from the south as well, this writer knows all too well that there is no such thing as an “accidental racist,” Paula Deen’s admission is not one tinged with regret, there is hardly any room for that type of understanding in a court of law. Away from the court transcripts, Ms Deen either needs to clarify her statement and perhaps, for once, not be unapologetic. If she cannot do so, she deserves to have her career ruined, in my humble opinion.
By Michael Smith