27 June 2013

10 Things To Think About Re: Paula Deen

Guys at the Camellia Grill from Kitchy Cooking

 1. Paula Deen is nearly 70 years old and raised in the deep South.  One would be hard pressed to find a 70-year-old Southerner (or 60 or 50 or 40 for that matter) who hasn't used a racial slur in some form or another.  (It is not right, but it is a fact.)

2.  All week "brand" consultants said Deen should have just lied under oath.  (That is the kind of brand one wants, the kind that lies under oath.  Though most Southerners would be inclined to lie about it.)

3. The woman who caused Deen to be deposed offered to drop her harassment suit... if Deen would pay her 12 million dollars.  (Who's harassing who?)

4. While Deen was being dropped by the Food Network, Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot, the three judges on Masterchef were accused by several female contestants of sexual harassment.  This was not featured on CNN.  P.S. Masterchef is thinking of dropping the segment that it filmed with Paula Deen.  (As an aside, Masterchef is show about home cooks.  Most of the people on the show are like Paula Deen, they are trying to find a way to improve life for their family.  Many are single parents.  Recently, Joe Bastianich stood next to his mother and threw food at one of the contestants because he didn't like his pasta.  (If Bobby Deen had thrown food at someone, I'll just bet his Mama would have slapped him!)

5.  Speaking of the Food Network, it seems a bit ironic that they are "horrified" by a racist comment but rarely feature African-American chefs on any of their shows.  Only one of their regular programs is hosted by African Americans.  As Mama might say... Deeds not words.

6.  The Camellia Grill in New Orleans has all male, predominately African-American waiters.  The dress code is white jackets and black bow ties.  Hooters employs and all female waitstaff who are required to wear short shorts and skintight Hooters shirts.

7.  Edward Lee spoke out about Deen.  He had filmed a show for her and was not glad that it would not air.   He said of Paula Deen,

"In my infinite innocence, I was excited for it. I was flattered that Mrs. Deen would even ask me on her show. I felt like we connected the Old and New Southern values through a dialogue of food – albeit in light-hearted and sugar-coated cooking skits. I dare say, I felt proud. In light of all the noise that surfaced this week, I realize there is still a deep ravine between the two and the opinions of many this week was an exercise in tearing apart rather than building bridges. Mrs. Deen was gracious, friendly and funny. Unfortunately, none of those qualities trumps racism."

I am sure Lee is in no way innocent.  He learned to cook from a Korean grandmother and if he is honest, he heard some pretty racist things in his kitchen.  Clearly instead of gracious, funny, friendly, Deen should have shouted obscenity at Lee and thrown pasta at him.  Then maybe she would be respected.

8.  If the "N" word is the most horrific pejorative in the English language, why do people in their teens, 20's, 30's use it so often?  For weeks I hear Kanye West and Jay-Z sing Niggas in Paris. At the 55th Grammy Awards the song won best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.  Perhaps if the word is so offensive EVERYONE should stop using it.   (I do understand the intellectual argument for reclaiming, but Jay-Z wins a Grammy?)

9. In case you missed it because you were too busy watching Paula Deen, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Provision and sent Affirmative Action back to the lower court.  Chief Justice John Roberts will, however, keep his job.

10.  There is no dialogue about race in America because no one wants to be called a racists. Because it easier to fire someone from the Food Network (who admits to telling the truth) than it is to look at the racial makeup of the Food Network. Because using the "N" word can get you fired or win you a Grammy.  Because the South is hotbed of lingering racist behavior if you cook there, but if you vote there, it is one big melting pot devoid of any racism.

The Score:


Paula Deen

Still Working

Gordon Ramsay
Joe Bastianich
Graham Elliot
John Roberts
Antonin Scalia
Anthony Kennedy
Clarence Thomas
Samuel Alito


  1. THANK YOU! This whole thing is absurd and blown out of proportion.

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  3. I don't have a TV, so the only place I've ever seen Paula Deen is at the grocery store, smiling out from the cover of magazines I don't read, so I had neither positive nor negative feelings about her going into all of this, but two things bother me about the whole thing.

    One is the people who excuse the offensive words, saying "Come on, she grew up in the South, it was a different time, and admit it, EVERYBODY has used this word at one time or another". That is bogus: I was born in North Carolina, I grew up in a hardscrabble small town and never in my life have I ever used that word--and I'm assuming that I'm not the only one who hasn't used it. So saying that 'everybody else does it' is no defense of Miss Deen at all--even if it were true, which it isn't. Using racist--or sexist, or homophobic, or whatever--slurs is something of which I am absolutely innocent, and if Paula Deen used them, well, then, she was wrong. It's as simple as that.

    Neither is it all made OK, by the fact that, as other defenders of Ms. Deen say, "Rappers use that word all the time" as if what rappers say and do had anything at all to do with this case. It doesn't. What she said was still wrong.

    But come on: we're talking about something that happened almost thirty years ago. And while I am innocent of having ever used the word in question, it's not like I'm totally innocent of everything, either. That is, while I didn't use the bad word, I did do other things back in the day. Things that were wrong. When I was twelve I broke into a house scheduled for demolition to rescue a leaded-glass window. Yes, I saved the window (which would have otherwise been destroyed) but technically speaking--legally speaking, that is--I stole the window, and stealing is, of course, wrong--but should I lose my current job because of what I did in 1963? After all, stealing is stealing. Sin is sin. Who's the worse person, me or Paula?

    Here's the thing: this whole uproar says less about Paula Deen than it does about the public's unhealthy obsession with the sordid character flaws of people they don't even know, people that, not long ago, they were in love with. First we create our gods, then we destroy them.

    Anyway, with all last week's comparisons between the NSA & 1984, no one mentions the equally obvious literary parallel between the bloodthirsty hordes (and the squeamish advertisers) that are going after Ms. Deen, and the frenzied mob at the end of Brave new World, smacking their lips over a close-up view of human frailty & degradation--mostly because, in the first instance, one can paint the accusing finger at "The Government" while in this case, the government has nothing to do with it: the finger points straight back at ourselves.

  4. What will become of us? When did politically correct become the norm? People can say what they want about her, but she is not a horrible person. She has apologized. What more can we ask of her? Paula will rise above this and maybe, some of us will learn something from it.

  5. Thanks for your positive post re Paula Deen. We should have seen what was coming when they begin picking on the amount of butter she used in her cooking. Yet, there are quite a few chefs/cooks on the FN channel that liberally load their dishes with butter, among them one of my favorites who looks like a little roly-poly barrel. But hey, she's not from the South. Does anyone ever use her as an example of too many calories being consumed. If you've watch FNC for enough years, you've seen them all stack it on. Political correctness abounds and plenty of hypocrisy as well. May she rise like the Phoenix from the ashes!

  6. It's a word, people! A word! It means nothing, until we give it intent and I don't think Paula Deen had the intent to offend in any way whatsoever.

    Thank you for your well thought out post, Lucinda. It was the first level headed thing I've heard or read yet. We seem to be the teenager nation of the world, always pointing fingers and never taking note of the three pointed back at us.

    I personally, think that we are ALL racist in some form or other. Somebody (!) and what they do or how they look or whatever "weird" behavior that we think they have, drives us up the wall. NO ONE is totally and completely tolerant and accepting. Just look at what's been done in the name of righteousness to this one kind of goofy, but well intended woman....I think there are probably a lot of people somewhere in this country saying today...."Boy, that cracker done F'd up for sure!" (and nobody will be calling them on that one!) Human beings, that's what we do, we screw up. And then we forgive, remember?

    And PS, that Bastianich guy is out of control, someone needs to tell him to reel his ego back in!

  7. One would have to spend a long, long time in the South to find a place where racism was as real and consequential as it is in Boston or Chicago today.

    And I agree with Simply Grand's penultimate paragraph: The compulsion to make the occasional public bonfire of one person or another is a societal sickness.

  8. I enjoy your blog immensely. It is thoughtful and gracious. I grew up with the N word. I do believe my mother may have been the most racist person I have ever known. But this did something positive for me – it gave me great empathy for those less fortunate than myself. I was not exposed to people of color growing up in the Northeast. When I was sent away to prep school in NY my small freshman class had two African American students (one whose father was at the UN), two or three Jewish students and two or three students from different Asian countries. It was the very early 60s. I was sent away during the summers. One summer I was sent to Maryland to fox hunt and improve my horsemanship. I was sent down on a Greyhound bus. With my little transistor radio to my ear I listened to the news about the March on Washington. Oh how I longed to get off that bus and join them!
    Today I am married to a Jew. I pioneered, living in the hood when I was divorced and wished to own a home without a mortgage. I live today in St Louis, MO and have for 47 years. I choose to live in the city. This is a metropolitan area that has its share of racial divide. I simply could not live in the manner in which I grew up. I need diversity to thrive.
    I agree with those who spoke above of bringing other people down (whether they are public figures or not). It is pure sport in this country – I find that attitude hypocritical and revolting.

  9. Thanks for this post. As an ex-pat living in Britain (and not very media-involved) I didn't know who Paula Deen was. I found this post when I decided to find out what all the hoorah was about. So hopefully she might get some thing positive in the long run with the added exposure. I tend to avoid the media for just this sort of reason - so much garbage out there. I probably wouldn't buy her books and all anyhow, because I've found eating simply and healthily doesn't require many recipes. All the same, I wouldn't wish this experience on anyone and you know all her detractors aren't perfect themselves. Thanks again for enlightening me!

  10. Thank you for this post. Until reading it I didn't know what to think about the whole Paula Deen kerfuffle. You have explained it well, and what it does (and does not) signify with reason and eloquence. I agree with you, and my views have now been solidified in her support. So, she said some stupid things, and didn't handle herself all that well in the aftermath. Any of us are guilty of worse or lesser "crimes." The viciousness and hypocricy of the attacks on her are entirely out of proportion to her supposed transgression. And now she is ruined, and will carry her humiliation to her grave, while her attackers will carry on in their merry way. I plan to bring this up at a cocktail party we are hosting this evening, and I expect the views I express will surprise any number of those present. So be it.

  11. There is no substitute for balance, context, logic, and perspective. And your wrap-up? Brilliant.

    (And a particular nod to Ancient and Simply Grand)

  12. You are right in many ways-but you haven't met my mother-she has never uttered that word and she is 83. her father-whom she lost at age 13, would never permit it and she remembered that for 70 years.I used it at the age of 8- I was tripped up on stage in the Christmas play by my little black child & when I was recapping the humiliating moment-IT Didn't go over well with my mother at all, and haven't said it since. I think PD is a phony-but that is another point and has little to do with her problem at the moment, and maybe as Capote says-she's a Real Phony-so maybe she is as authentic as one of her staple ingredients Lard.


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