Is Paula Deen a Racist?

By Karen

Paula Deen’s upbringing finally caught up with her. In a deposition for a $1.2 million lawsuit filed against her and her brother Bubba for creating a hostile work environment at their restaurant, Paula answered yes, “of course,” she had used the N-word in the past, as if to say, “Well, hasn’t everybody?”

Paula’s career is built on being a proud product of the South, parts of which are still butt-hurt over the Civil War. Being compelled to stop owning what they lovingly called “N-words” still rankles. And with good reason.

TODAY’s Richmond Times-Dispatch published 3 articles with “Civil War” in the headline. In fact, one of them is a DAILY feature that re-reports the Confederacy’s glory days.

But all bigots aren’t Southerners. My Italian grandmother, who spent her life in Massachusetts (and later years in Florida), always called blacks the N-word. She also hated the French and Jews, although I seriously doubt she ever knew any of them in any meaningful way.

She must have picked up all that racist bullshit from her parents. Just like Paula Deen probably did.

Back in 1972 when I moved to Virginia, I worked at J.C. Penney’s. Forty years later, I still vividly recall a white-haired Paula Deen type who, upon seeing a cute young white girl come up the escalator with a black boy, turned and whispered to me, “I’d like to push her right down those stairs!”

Over the years, black men have asked me for dates a few times, but I always turned them down. It’s just safer. I don’t want anybody feeling tempted to push me down an escalator.

So now Food Network isn’t renewing Deen’s contract, and her advertisers are having second thoughts.

Where was all this outrage after we found out Paula was flat-out trying to kill people with recipes SHE, as a closet diabetic, knew could be lethal?

All these entities turning on Paula now should be ashamed of their belated shock. Anyone can take one look at Deen and her whole redneck family and see you probably don’t have to scratch deep to find some festering Southern ugliness.

But I don’t think Deen would ever choose to be a racist. She’s been conditioned by her culture.

Paula reminds us all that, in spite electing a black president TWICE, racism still thrives. Republicans out to sink Obama no matter what the consequences for the country, and Deen’s loyal fans who are screaming, “What’s the big deal? Bring Paula back!” are just further proof of it.

This country can’t be cleansed for at least a few more generations, and only then if our leaders and people who should know better stop spewing mindless poison.

A few weeks ago, a Southern friend told me how a drunk woman in a bar hit on my friend’s husband, assaulted my friend, and then got herself arrested.

My friend called the woman the N-word.

Later in the conversation, my friend was incredulous when I mentioned I’d worked on Obama’s campaign. Yet she couldn’t give me any good reason she preferred Romney (other than, I suspect, his color).

This was a side of her I’d never really seen before — in 30+ years. But it’s there.

We all have it, to some degree, I’m sad to say. I bet there isn’t a person alive who hasn’t at some point avoided someone “other-looking” because that stranger made them uncomfortable.

Right now, George Zimmerman is on trial in Florida for killing a black teenager named Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman’s defense team has been dredging up dirt from Trayvon’s life to make the case that Trayvon needed killing for something. That way, Zimmerman’s a hero, not a gun-toting weirdo trolling for trouble.

This is how racism thrives.

BONUS: Watch Paula’s attempts to muster a sincere apology to her fans.

21 Responses to Is Paula Deen a Racist?

  1. Imabear says:

    I’m from the South and I know elderly men (in their 90s) who spent their lives in rural areas and who use that word. For myself, I’m in my early 50s and was taught in kindergarten that this was not a word decent people used at all, ever. And I never did.

  2. catsworking says:

    Imabear, good for you. Although my grandmother used the N-word always, I don’t recall my mother or my grandfather ever saying it.

    Growing up, my immediate family never used it, but I don’t remember ever being told it was a bad word, especially in school. It just never came up (but I went to school in Mass., Ohio, and NJ).

    And I have a lot of Southern friends who never say it.

  3. trisha says:

    Racism knows no geographic location – after all it was Boston, not the south, where buses were overturned during desegregation. My take on Deen is, who cares? What anyone says in private to family and friends is their business. I get why she was asked that question, given she’s being sued for racial discrimination, but use of the word at home doesn’t automatically mean she’s guilty of work discrimination and vice versa, just as Mark Fuhrman’s use of the word didn’t mean he framed OJ or that OJ wasn’t a murderer.

    If we were privy to what all famous people say in private it would make Dean’s comments look tame – ditto every non famous person in this country. I’d be willing to bet most people have used the word at least once in their lives ‘in private’. Dean’s most evil deed IMO is her alliance with one of the worst companies on earth, Smithfield. She should burn for that alone. As for her promoting unhealthy crap, fast food giants do this daily – you can’t fault a company or individual for selling unhealthy products, because we all have a choices about what to eat. Should she have disclosed her diabetes? Well, should the CEO of Burger King disclose his diet-related illnesses if he has any? I’m not sure there’s any obligation there, either. Everyone should know that Deen’s type of cooking is unhealthy and increases diabetes risk. No one’s forcing people to eat it.

  4. Jill Fuller says:

    The Zimmerman remarks are off-base. They are trying to get a handle on whether Trayvon had it in him to attack. If it’s possible Zimmerman was reacting to being attacked. Not to justify a black kid’s murder. But, say whatever you like. You have the floor.

  5. catsworking says:

    Trisha, I don’t know all the details of the lawsuit, but apparently enough was said in that restaurant to get this one employee’s knickers in a knot. And I understand the employee is white.

    I’ve worked in plenty of offices here where LOTS has been said that would constitute a “hostile work environment.” But like 99.999% of people, I let it roll off.

    You’re right. If we started going after people for everything they say in private, there would be nobody left.

    I still take more exception to the diabetes matter than to Paula’s crass joke about hiring slaves to work a wedding. The CEO of Burger King isn’t out there slathering butter on everything and talking about how yummy it is. We watch celebrity chefs with the unspoken understanding that they think their food is delicious and would eat it themselves. Look at Emeril. I’m afraid he’s going to do a Gandolfini any minute.

    NO TV cook I know of is whipping up blatantly unhealthy food they themselves shouldn’t eat. Paula’s latter-day preaching about moderation is bullshit. If she believed that, her fattening recipes would have been the exception, not her stock in trade.

    It’s like Paula saying, “I just sell the bullets, y’all. If you put ’em in a gun and mow down your whole family, it’s not my fault. I’m just doing it for the money.”

    With rampant obesity lowering average life expectancy, we don’t need any Paula Deens out there selling bullets.

  6. catsworking says:

    Jill, Trayvon’s intent in any matter at any time before he encountered Zimmerman is irrelevant. Zimmerman’s Plan B seems to be, if the self-defense story doesn’t pan out, then convince the jury he rid the earth of a kid who already had done, or was going to do, something bad some day.

    I was just reading about the trial’s first hours. Apparently, Zimmerman claimed Trayvon covered Zimmerman’s mouth, but none of George’s DNA was found on Trayvon (you’d think Trayvon might have gotten a little spit on his hand, right?). Also, Zimmerman claimed he shot Trayvon because Trayvon was going for the gun, but none of Trayvon’s DNA was found on the gun or the holster.

    The FACT is that an adult male with a gun went after an unarmed teenager who was doing nothing wrong. If Zimmerman had not decided to arm himself and play vigilante that night, Trayvon Martin would have made it to his father’s place alive.

  7. MorganLF says:

    I grew up in a home where the word was NEVER used, in fact it was forbidden. I never knew the word until I was a teenager.

    Listen to any black comic from the hysterically funny Kat Williams, to Chris Rock and every other line is nigga. As a result we mirror what has seeped into popular culture.

    The whole original point was to over use the word to the point of desensitizing it. To blow up every time a white person uses the word defeats all that.

    Stop saying it, stop rapping it…. period. To take the position WE can say it and you can’t wont work.

    I could care less that Paula Deen was fired. In defense of free speech it does get my back up when someone is made to account for every time they may have used that word. There many such ugly words. Do we make a federal case of them?

    As for that psycho Zimmerman he was told by the sheriff’s office after numerous calls to NOT follow the boy. He suffers under some paranoid vigilante delusion that he had the right to antagonize the kid into making a move on him so he could fire his gun. Big man. He was looking for trouble and that reputation.

    I hope that fat faced, squint eyed creep gets life….in prison….where the brothers can teach him all about justice.

  8. CfromFL says:

    I’m not trying to excuse Paula Dean but I do have a question. When Arsenio Hall, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy (and other black comedians) bandy about the words “cracker”, “honkey” and, “whitey” on stage and TV how come they get to keep their jobs? We don’t use the N-word around our house but I also keep well away from those 3 racist creeps.

  9. catsworking says:

    CfromFl, very good point. I don’t think most whites get into a lather over being called cracker or honky. I know I couldn’t care less.

    But all the name-calling on both sides has got to stop because it makes no sense to make examples of a few (like Paula Deen) while others (like the ones you named) base careers on doing it.

    When I was growing up, I can’t recall that use of the N-word, or the Civil War, for that matter, were EVER discussed at home. Race simply wasn’t an issue in my early life.

    A video surfaced yesterday of Paula talking about race, and telling how her great-grandfather committed suicide after he lost his son in the Civil War and all his “help” on his plantation. She didn’t use the word “slaves,” but then later brought up her black assistant Hollis and made some pretty crude comments about his skin color.

    Clearly, the woman grew up in a home that had an axe to grind about the outcome of the Civil War, and I bet she’s feeling totally baffled at having beliefs she was taught in her earliest childhood attacked now, when she’s probably been making racist comments all her life among people who think like she does.

    She’s supposed to show up for the Today Show Wednesday (June 26). I can’t imagine what she’s going to say, except to repeat her insincere apologies.

    PS: Today is Bourdain’s 57th birthday. Happy B-Day, Tony!

  10. MorganLF says:

    Part 2:

    Watching this meltdown and media fever is getting me crazed. Most of her endorsement deals are gone. Walmart bailed! Walmart sells guns, for chrissake.

    Paula used a word that’s used by many people, including and ESPECIALLY black people.

    I don’t like Paula. I am not defending her, but are we going after every public persona that’s used other pejoratives like: kike, greaseball, wop, jaime, frog, chink, gook, kraut, Limey, mick, beaner, spic, fag, (et al) with the same zeal?

    Oh come on, she may be many things and is probably lying about her use of the word, but did she do it on camera or in a public rant?

    Michael Richards deserved what he got. He screamed the word openly and repeatedly in front of a crowd that came to hear him entertain. He’s guilty of being unfunny, off balance and just plain boorish. I’d never let anyone race-bait in my presence and if I’d have been in that crowd he’d have worn my cocktail. Paula did not do anything nearly so offensive.

    Did she kill someone, molest a child, start an illegal war?

    The testimony indicates she is a stupid woman who felt empowered enough to state on the record ” of course ” she’s used the word she probably felt her money and success would protect her.

    There are things you just don’t say. We all know it, ok move on.

  11. MorganLF says:

    One more thing; predictably because this is so polarizing the backlash has already begun. Her newest cookbook has pre sold into the stratosphere.

  12. catsworking says:

    Morgan, I also read that her cruises are selling so well on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, the tour operator has added another date.

    Home Depot was the latest retailer to desert her.

    I think it’s time for her shut up now. Every time she opens her mouth, she digs herself in deeper. Pretty much everyone has noted the discrepancy in telling Matt Lauer she used the N-word only once in her life, when she admitted in the deposition she’d used it more.

    And her tearful story about how her father lectured her on equality — PULEEZ! This was an average family in Georgia who lost a farm (Paula calling it a “plantation” when it had only 30 slaves seems like a stretch) and one of Paula’s parents lost a grandfather to suicide directly because of the Civil War. And they totally embraced racial equality. Yeah, right.

    But I bet they were still calling people from the north Yankees and carpetbaggers.

    Paula’s got a loyal following in all the Southerners who still believe themselves to be downtrodden and disenfranchised by the damn Yankees. As I said, it’s going to take a few more generations who say, “The Civil What? That’s ancient history. Get a life!” before this crap is going to go away.

    Paula’s empire is taking a hit now, but she’s already a millionaire and doesn’t have to work another day in her life. Besides, she’s always got her shilling gig for diabetes to fall back on.

  13. catsworking says:

    Oops, I spoke too soon. Target and Novo Nordisk have dropped Paula Deen, too. (Although Novo says it is merely “suspending” their deal.)

    I guess we’ll be seeing a lot more Paula Deen cookware in Ollie’s and Big Lots.

  14. CfromFL says:

    Just call me a “creepy ass cracker” (Trayvon’s words NOT mine) but I think the play-by-play coverage of Ms. Deen’s PR nightmare is kinda ghoulish—-like the old Roman days when they fed those poor schnooks to the lions. I agree with Morgan–I wish the media would move-on but like Paula Deen they are all about making corporate money so they will milk this crapola for as long as they can. Whatever happened to real, informational new broadcasts in this country? We get more real news from Al Jazeera than CNN these days!

  15. catsworking says:

    CfromFL, I’m with you. Your analogy about feeding someone to the lions is apt.

    This morning I heard that Sears and QVC have dropped Paula. I think Macy’s and Kohl’s are still on the fence.

    But her cookbooks are topping the bestseller list on Amazon.

    That Paula Deen used the N-word is as unsurprising as Trayvon calling George Zimmerman a “c-a-c.” Racism is still rampant in this country (as if Congress’ behavior since Obama was elected hasn’t been a clue), and people should stop pretending to be so shocked when they see it and start DOING something about it — like shutting the f– up before they spew these horrible names.

  16. CfromFL says:

    Having lived in Florida for 45 years, I have heard the term “cracker” used many times to indicate someone who was born in our state. I think it refers to the old settlers who were cattle ranchers and “cracked” the whip to move their herds. Obviously it has morphed into a derogatory term for all Florida Anglos. —-just like the old-fashioned word “negro” has morphed into the volatile “n” word so despised. Of course the Latinos in our state have even more colorful words they call us and “gringo” is the least offensive!

  17. catsworking says:

    CfromFL, that history of “cracker” makes sense. I’d never heard it. I thought cracker was just a term some blacks use for all whites, particularly the ones somebody might consider “rednecks.”

    So many names, so little time. I shudder to think what the cats must call me sometimes when meowing amongst themselves. Especially yesterday, after Max’s door-slamming got on my last nerve and I stuffed sponges under the doors to stop him. Or whenever I try to serve him Fancy Feast Chopped Grill for dinner. (I was hoping he gave me some points for the snack of tuna water I gave everybody at lunchtime.)

  18. catsworking says:

    LATEST UPDATE: Kmart and Walgreens are dropping Paula’s merchandise, too.

  19. MorganLF says:

    I have read the etymology of cracker is from the cracking of the whips either at herds or slaves. It in no way offends me.

    Trayvon used the phrase in a private conversation about a creep who was tracking and provoking him. To me that hideous troll was not a cracker and looked markedly of Hispanic derivation.

    I may have used another word if that slime was goading me. Oh and before you all get gnarly on me, I grew up in Puerto Rico and neice is part Dominican.

  20. adele says:

    Morgan, I’d expect nothing less than “douche bag” from you — the epithet that New Jersey gave to the world.

    And yes, I always thought that cracker had more to do with cracking the whip at slaves than at cattle

  21. catsworking says:

    If you want to hear politically incorrect name-calling, go see The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. One of the characters sounds exactly like Antonio Banderas (although not as handsome), and McCarthy keeps calling him Puss ‘n’ Boots.

    And there’s an albino cop she asks, “Who’s your wife, a sack of flour with a hole in it?”

    I do recommend the movie. It had some hilarious moments, and it was by turns funny, gross, touching, and suspenseful.

    Well, Penney’s has dropped Paula, and her publisher, Ballantine, has canceled her 5-book deal, which included the new cookbook about “lightening up” recipes that shot to No. 1 on Amazon in preorders.

    I wonder if Ruth Bourdain didn’t put the final nail in the publishing coffin, because it was s/he who tweeted about the irony of the title.

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