Mar 08

Recently it came out that Food Network sensation and lover of all things bad for you – Paula Deen is being sued by Lisa Jackson, a former manager at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House for being a racist and making some rather colorful remarks. Go ahead and let it sink in then continue reading. Paula and son are being accused of what many people already assumed her to be –based on appearances alone. Jackson has alleged that Paula would casually drop N-bombs when they were together and left one particular gem that made me chuckle despite myself:

“Well what I would really like is a bunch of little niggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around…” – Momma Deen

When I read that I threw in a Paul Deenesque “yall” at the end of it… did you?

Now having lived in the South my entire life, I will not lie that the drawl and antics of Momma Deen has always somewhat reminded me of movies with Sidney Poitier… but the speed of the internet to damn her into eternity was still rather mind-boggling after this story went viral.

When I read the entire accusation my mind shifted over to “well what did you all expect?” but then I had to check myself a bit. As a black person who (unlike many of you young readers) has actually seen discrimination up front, I thought – shouldn’t I be a little bit more sympathetic to the plight of the accused no matter the race, creed or build-up? I mean, people see me coming and if I’m dressed casually I am already suspected of a million things that aren’t even on my radar… so why be the hypocrite and assume that Paula is guilty?

FACT: We Expect White Southerners to Be Racist

Paula Deen is an old Southern woman who throws all care to the wind and teaches people how to make deathly sweet desserts in order to make some money. I cannot think of a better target for a lawsuit than a woman of her make and model.  Hell, if I was some teenager who was taken home by my girlfriend (heavy and blonde to fulfill the stereotype) to meet momma Deen and that woman opened the door; I’d be scared shitless that her brother would be coming after me with the shotgun… Isn’t his name Bubba? See what I did there?

Just because Paula looks and sounds like a stereotype does not mean that she is of that stereotype. But at the same time there is a strong chance that it’s all true… so I have to ask… having made her desserts and watched her show my dear readers, do you think she’s guilty too?

Look, I am not making an argument for Paula Deen the person, because I don’t know the woman and I don’t like her show… it makes my arteries hurt. But what I do argue for is the treatment of people as individuals and not what we assume them to be. Paula is already guilty just for being accused and if it comes out that this is all smoke and mirrors for Ms. Jackson to get paid, half of us won’t care to remember that. Paula is already guilty in the court of public opinion.

So is Paula Deen the racist old-school stereotype who is finally being burnt for her ugly words, or is she simply an innocent avatar of the South that will be made to pay for other women who look and sound just like her?

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