- Posted June 24, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Why Paula Deen's Mistake Is A Big Deal
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
"It's just country pride," some say of Paula Deen's use of racist language and her fantasy of having a group of black, male servers. "It's just a word," people say as they dismiss the error that cost Paula her TV show. "It's just a joke," Deen, herself, said of her use of the N-Word. However, racism coated with smiles, cute southern accents, (and even butter) is still racism.
Words are our only form of true communication, therefore they are always powerful. Words have the power to incite violence. Words have to power to bring peace. Words also carry history. That's why the N-word isn't a joke to be compared to a blonde joke or a stale one-liner about women nagging their husbands. To utter that word carelessly is to awaken the horrific history of African Americans burning alive while white people celebrated their deaths; and African Americans being torn from their families to face abuse as slaves. That word is a reflection of discrimination not only held in your own heart, but of the atrocities held in our history.
What if the situation were the other way around and President Obama said negative things about white people? Conservatives and even many Liberals would have him by the throat. Rush Limbaugh would pounce on the story and his followers would probably demand impeachment, as that is their specialty. Glenn Beck would bask in the glory of correctly predicting that Obama really does have a "deep-seated hatred for white people." No one would try to justify Obama's words by saying "it's all part of Hawaii pride." They wouldn't view it as a joke or a slip-of-the-tongue. They would deem it a reflection of his hatred. I've been reminded that white privilege is still alive and well. We are still the ones who get to make bogus excuses.
In the end, I don't care about Paula Deen. I won't miss her show because I didn't watch. I do, however, care about the debate sparked by her stupidity and our willingness to brush off bigotry. We shouldn't ignore it; if we do, we are implying it's acceptable. We can't accept the excuses; they are just as irrational as the people who make them.