I so thought I’d skip the whole Paula Deen kerfluffle with just yesterday’s quick mention. And I really was going to leave it alone because like everything celeb-related, the topic gets talked about, disected, chewed up, digested and then regurgitated to the point of just being a pile of vomit.
But then… then… I stumbled across this Facebook page supporting Deen, full of rants against “Libs”, “P.C. Police”, “Blacks” and “the Jews” (Lord, why does it always go to “the Jews”?), and then I felt like vomiting and knew I’d have to do my own little rant here. I’m not going to talk so much about how horrible the n-word is or it’s history and blah blah blah. This is not a “Very Special Episode” of East of Eden. I just figured I might help out some folks who might be confused about some things related to the “n-word”. Think of this as my version of “My Black Friend Says”.
1.) Please don’t excuse Paula Deen’s use of the n-word by saying, “But Blacks say it!”. On the Facebook page, I’ve seen about 100 variants of this same theme. “I hear Black guys in the street calling each other it! They don’t care!” Also: “Those hippity hop crap rappers say it and they win awards AND get invited to the White House!” Okay, and? This is like a red herring thrown out to take the onus off Deen and on to random Black dudes you don’t know and famous Black dudes you definitely don’t know. Paula, despite being from the Dirty South, having Type II diabetes, and being able to cook a pot of hamhocks, collards and black eyed peas, is NOT Black. She is NOT part of the in-group.
Why does this matter? Well, I can tell you, what Jay Z means when he uses the n-word in a song is FAR different from what Paula meant when she threw it out there. Jay Z says it, and he might be referring to his friend, or close partner. Paula, on the other hand, knew she wasn’t meaning “buddy”, which is why she tried to contextualize it by adding in being raised in an older generation down south. But even if she meant, for some inexplicable reason, “buddy”, I’d still say take a cue from the world’s most famous White rapper: don’t do it.
Also,we Blacks, like all groups, are not a monolith. Just because some of us use the n-word doesn’t mean we all do. I don’t. Nor does my husband and most of my family. In fact, when I (try to) rap along to say, Jigga, I edit out the n-word as if I were a radio. I do not like the word. It’s ugly. While I don’t think it should be banned (like banning “Huck Finn”?! Just plain ridiculous.), I see no reason personally to use it.
2.) Please don’t excuse Paula Deen’s use of the n-word by labeling this political correctness run amok. I know I might be in the minority here (no pun intended, but if it made you laugh, good stuff), but when I first heard that Paula Deen admitted up to using it, I wasn’t bothered. Sorry, but no. So she got ugly and racist back in the day? Meh. I’m not saying it’s okay, I just don’t like the idea of people being perpetually flogged for past sins. If a court rules that she created a hostile work environment and she has to pay retribution, I’d say good. But I didn’t necessarily think that should translate into her being fired. But then there was the whole slave-themed wait staff part… and that wasn’t so back in the day... then I realized she really is in some deep doo doo.
It’s not being politically correct to make sure not to throw out deragatory, demeaning, offensive, racist and sexist comments to your employees. It’s just plain correct. To do otherwise is not only wrong, it can also be illegal which is probably why Paula is being forced to testify.
3.) Please don’t excuse Paula Deen’s use of the n-word by praising her honesty. Um, she was being deposed. Unless she wanted to commit perjury and add to her problems, she had to tell the truth, so help her God. Why label her brave for doing what she was sworn to do? Also, as should be painful obvious, she admitted to using a racist term, not to say, secretly funding a bunch of shelters or something.
4.) Please don’t excuse Paula Deen’s use of the n-word because “we all do it”. Why is this even a justification? It’s like the kid who wants to do something stupid just because all his friends are and his mother asks, “If all your friends jumps off a bridge, would you?”. The answer should be “Of course not,” but guessing by the number of people who are turning to this as a defense, a lot of people would happily throw themselves off the Goethel’s if there was some southern fried butter waiting for them.
Look two (or a billion) wrongs don’t make a right (again, another classic mom-ism), so if you’re chuckling it up while using the n-word (or any other racist term), stop it. Deen was wrong and so are you.
5.) Please don’t excuse Paula Deen’s use of the n-word. Period. Full stop. If you think Food Network was too harsh, that’s one thing. Go ahead and boycott them. But please don’t pretend this is a case of no harm, no foul. It’s not okay to be hostile at work. You want to know what happens to people working in such conditions? They pass on such behavior to the customers, and you quickly wind up with DMV-type situation. Shudder. It’s not okay to use the n-word, especially at work (this goes for Black folks, too. DON’T!), unless of course, you ARE Jay Z and are in the recording studio. By the by, if you are Jay Z and are reading this, “Hi!”.