Race Relations

Paula Deen

UNITED STATES—It’s a discussion that so many Americans would like to avoid, the truth of the matter is racism still exists in America.  It’s not as overt as it has been in the past centuries, but it still exists.  There are people that dislike certain groups or people because of their skin color.  The reason this issue has been brought back to the forefront is the recent news involving celebrity cooking star Paula Deen.

Deen is in the forefront of a scandal as notes of a deposition she gave regarding a lawsuit with one of her restaurants came to surface; the biggest issue involved Deen’s acknowledgment of her use of the N-word.  This is a term that has been deemed one of the most hateful words in the American lexicon.  It’s a touchy subject for African-Americans, but also for Caucasians.  When can the term be used, who can it be used by and why?  It’s a social situation as some would say, but in my opinion, it’s a term that should not be used at all.

I know many individuals who use the term as a form of ‘endearment’ as some would say in the African-American community.  Does that make it okay, not necessarily, but it was an ethnic groups way of taking a demeaning term and putting a positive spin on it to some degree.  For white counterparts, it’s a word that some believe they should have the right to use in the public sphere, but a vast majority would disagree.  Countless movies and television shows have tackled this issue to discuss some of the ramifications and problems with the term.

I don’t think Paula Deen admitting to using the word was the problem, but I’m certain most people in some sort of facet have used the term.  It may not have been in a public setting, perhaps in the privacy of their home, but it doesn’t necessarily make it ok. In Deen’s case, I think it was the way she phrased things.  It was almost an “of course” I’ve used the term as if its okay, which rubbed many people the wrong way.  To further complicate the matter; she cancelled an appearance on “The Today Show” with Matt Lauer.

That same day she released an apology video that was absolutely horrid.  It came across insincere and almost fed to her.  To counter that first video apology she uploaded another video that was a bit better, but the damage had already been done.  Deen this week had a one-on-one interview with Matt as she talked about the scandal surrounding her and broke down in tears.

Deen was dropped from her contract with the Food Network.  She has appeared on the network for nearly a decade.  She was a staple on the cable channel and it’s odd to not see her shows on the network anymore.  She gave hope to home cooks that you don’t have to be classically trained to prepare food; you just have to have a passion for it. The unfortunate side effect is that Deen has lost several endorsements since the scandal arose, but this scandal is once again sparking a heavy debate about the issue of racism inAmerica.  We as a culture would like to continue to believe its non-existent, but only someone who lives under a rock could believe such a thing.

There are racist people in the world; those who are uneducated and have yet to be taught that their our others in the world who don’t necessarily think or look like them, but at the end of the day we all still have the same strives in life: the pursuit of happiness. The bigger issue in this discussion is the use of the N-word.  Is it something that should be banned?  Perhaps, but it’s not likely to happen.

You can’t really control what someone says, but if it fuels hate it is against the law.  We’ve all heard the term, but I think some are not fully informed why that term has such a negative connotation for African-Americans. It was used to dehumanize slaves during the unspeakable horrors encountered during slavery.

The issue of slavery is a black spot in American history that no matter what we do cannot be forgotten.  Some would like the issue to be swept under the rug, but it cannot be.  We must acknowledge the issue, there is a reason the N-word has been such a decisive issue for decades and it will continue to be so until we have a direct discussion about it.  Hiding from the past does not make the future better; it only continues to mask the issue that has yet to be discussed.

By Trevor Roberts