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Friday, June 28, 2013

Paula Deen And A Certain Kind Of Racism

 

Paula Deen doesn’t think she’s a racist.

And very likely, in her mind, she isn’t.

Certainly she doesn’t come across as your standard issue stereotypical racist, does she?

She doesn’t seem the type to don a hood and white sheets, to burn crosses in a black family’s front yard or scrawl racial epithets on the front door of an African-American church.  I somehow doubt we’ll see pictures of Paula Deen with a shaved head and a swastika tattoo, chubby white fist upraised in the stiff-armed Aryan salute.

I suppose that you never really know, but I would think that scenario rather unlikely. 

Mrs. Deen, from her public persona at least, appears to be a jolly matronly lady with a cloyingly overdone Southern accent and a talent for deliciously unhealthy food.

But if ever there was a metaphor for American racism, i.e. a particular kind of racism, Paula Deen is it.

The self-immolation of Deen’s media empire isn’t particularly surprising – nor will be its eventual recovery.

I won’t shed any tears over her current plight, nor any cheers at her certain return – because unless she actually does put on a robe and start burning crosses, her return is a virtual certainty.  If she needs any tips on the process, she can always ring up Martha Stewart or Tammy Faye or Tony The Weiner. 

Deen’s current shaming in the public stocks will likely follow the old familiar path, and in a year or so she’ll reappear reborn, contrite and properly chastised with a new best seller about her trials and tribulations and how she was able to cast off the chains of her past by begging the forgiveness of Jesus. The exact recipe will, of course, depend on which public relations firm she picks, but likely she end up loving brown people and/or starting some kind of Paula Deen Culinary Academy for Poor Black Children –  I probably wouldn’t expect her to show up with a newly adopted African baby and recipes for kuku paka and chapatis, though stranger things have happened when there’s this much money at stake.

And then we’ll forgive her, or forget her charming old Southern racism – because, hey, she didn’t mean it that way, and she’s sorry and she cried real tears and all. And besides, she’s from the South. And she’s from the previous generation. And, really, haven’t we all said things we regret? And she’s lost a lot of money and she’s probably suffered enough already. And besides she doesn’t know any better and she can’t help herself.  Just like an old dog that keeps shitting on the floor – it should be housebroken, but every once in a while it just craps in the middle of the carpet, and you know you should do something about it but hey, it’s just easier to grab the paper towels and pretend it didn’t happen.

We’ve forgiven much larger celebrities for far more egregious errors, if Deen plays the game correctly she’ll be right back in the Manor House in no time.

Then she’ll go back to making millions, just like nearly every celebrity and politician afflicted with hoof and mouth disease before her.

But she just doesn’t get it, and unless I miss my bet she’ll go through life blaming everybody else for this.

You have only to look at her tear-stained sobbing “apology” to see that she doesn’t get it – and she will never get it. And she’s not alone, not by a long shot.

Listen to her excuses.  The expression on her face is that of a long pampered dog that’s been suddenly struck across the snout for shitting on the carpet, hurt and bewildered at how the world turned on her in such an unpleasant and incomprehensible fashion. She won’t do it again, not as long as she remembers the crack across her nose and how much it hurt – not because she actually understands why her behavior was so egregious.  Then she’ll forget and crap on the carpet again, and we’ll sigh and say, well, see, she’s old…

Deen will never understand.

No one who pines nostalgically for a genuine old Southern Antebellum wedding reception complete with all black waiters dressed in identical slave livery will ever understand. You can shame them into (mostly) silence, but they will never get it.

See, because it’s a kind of racism.

Bigots like Deen just don’t get that they are racists – and truly, sincerely, they really don’t mean to be.

They don’t mean to give offense, they don’t mean to be hurtful. But they just don’t get it.

Just a few months back, my own ham-fisted congressman, a man that makes you proud to be an Alaskan, Don Young, waxed nostalgic about the “wetbacks” his dad used to hire on their California ranch back in the day. 

Naturally people were offended. 

But, Don, see, he just couldn’t understand why people were offended. Just like Deen, he immediately claimed age as an excuse.  He grew up using that term, so it must be okay, right? He didn’t mean anything by it, he explained, wetback was the term he’d always used. His family had always called Mexican migrant labor wetbacks, of course. Why “wetback” is a term of affection where Don Young comes from – just like “darkie” and “nigger” were terms of genteel affection in the old Antebellum South that just happened to also mean “property.” Sure, practically a member of the family – like an old dog.

It’s always the same with these people, they always use the same excuse: We grew up in a different time. See back then, those words didn’t mean anything. That’s just how we talked. Black people didn’t mind being called darkies and spooks and pickaninnies and niggers, Mexicans didn’t mind being called wetbacks and spics, you could call a Jew a kike and an Italian a wop and a Chinaman a gook right to their ugly brown faces and they didn’t care, why they’d laugh! Sure. That’s just how we talked back then. But now, with this political correctness, everybody gets offended…”

What they just don’t get, what they will never get, is that yes, in point of fact, those words were just as offensive then, just as wrong and just as obnoxious and just as racist then as they are now – it’s just that minorities were powerless to do anything about it, so they smiled carefully and played along and seethed silently.  Yes, Massa, ha ha, yes, Massa.

But see, that’s what people like Don Young and Paula Deen remember, everybody knew their place back then.  Minorities knew their place, they didn’t talk back, they didn’t complain, they didn’t demand equality and they sure didn’t run for President. They knew their proper place – and back then they’d damned well better, because those that got uppity learned their place jiminy quick, didn’t they? At the end of a rope, if necessary, for the ones that were hard headed about it.

People like Paula Deen look back on that time – and they mistake that silence as contentment. 

In their nostalgia, they see quiet summer evenings on the porch of the big house, ladies in hoop-skirts like colorful birds, men in frock coats and smoking cigars, lightning bugs flickering over the neat green lawn, mint-juleps sweating in their glasses on a silver tray and it’s all just so wonderful and magical and perfect. They watch Gone With The Wind over and over and cry every time, cry at the loss of all those wonderful things, that perfect content magical world. And those servants, the ones Deen thinks look so fine sweating in their woolen livery, are part of the set dressing, like a favorite well-trained pet, decorations, part of the culture, part of a lost age of music and fine food and high culture, and people like Paula Deen and Don Young just can’t imagine why they would resent their roles in this fantasy.

In fact, those black folks ought to be grateful.

Yes, grateful.

Grateful that Americans scooped them up out of their own backward heathen countries and taught them about civilization and gave them a place to sleep and clothes to wear and food to eat. Yes, Massa, yes, yes!

Sure.

In his essay, A Brief for Whitey, Pat Buchanan argued that slavery in the Antebellum South was a good thing overall – and, in point of fact, Buchanan specifically said, “America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.”

The mind boggles. 

You’ve really got to admire the dexterity it takes to get from “600,000 black people brought from Africa in slave ships…” to “greatest levels of prosperity blacks have ever known” without bothering to journey through the bothersome intervening centuries.

Well, Boy Howdy and Salt My Grits! Black people got to meet Jesus, so, hey, slavery smavery, it’s a win win!  Gooo Jesus!

Buchanan, of course, isn’t alone.  Arkansas Republican John Hubbard likewise wrote a book last year, wherein he called slavery “a blessing in disguise” see because it “helped blacks come to America.”  That must be why Hubbard was so glad to see all those black faces at the Republican National convention, not to mention the ones looking out the White House windows.

As an aside, I wonder why porous borders aren’t a blessing in disguise for Latinos, after all it helps them come to America, right? But I digress.

During the recent presidential election, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum signed a pledge written by uber-conservative Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Family Leader, proclaiming that “A child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.” Because that makes it all ok, right? And hey, does it really matter if it’s not even true? As long as you’re rationalizing for Jesus and all, I mean?

David Horowitz, president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, editor of the ultra-conservative FrontPage magazine, declared “If slave labor created wealth for Americans, then obviously it has created wealth for black Americans as well, including the descendants of slaves.”  The Antebellum version of trickle-down economics, no doubt, let’s see I get all the money, you get chained to a plow, seems fair.  Meanwhile, down in Arizona, Trent Franks believes that blacks were far better off in shackles,“Far more of the African American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery.” Well, geez, Trent, who was it made those policies again? Hello? And then there’s Arkansas state legislator, Loy Mauch, who famously offered the following observation during last year’s election, “If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution and why wasn’t there a war before 1861?”  Yeah, why didn’t Jesus condemn slavery, do you think? Big font of morality and all, that he was. Hey, I’m just asking. It’s a puzzler. Say, you don’t suppose folks back in the past used the Bible as justification for slavery, do you? Naw, that would be crazy, right?

We could go on, I haven’t even tapped the fertile ground of Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, or Glenn Beck, but let’s wrap this up with a little Ted Nugent on tour with the Romney campaign: “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”

But when you call out people like this, they always make the same protest, “I’m not a racist, I have a black friend!”

In fact, that’s exactly what Deen famously did, pulled the “I have a black friend!” dodge, because that’s always, inevitably, the go to card. I have a black friend!

No you don’t, you don’t have any black friends. 

I call Shenanigans.

What it is, is that you happen to know a black person, sort of. You work with a black person. You’ve never gone for drinks – unless it was part of an office thing. You don’t chat on the phone. You don’t text recipes back and forth. You don’t hang out. You don’t go bowling together. You’ve never been to their house and they’ve never been to yours.  You don’t see movies together. You don’t confide in each other. You don’t have a black friend.

In fact, were this person white, given the bare level of association you two do have, you’d say, “Friends? Ur, Bill? Yeah, he’s just some asshole I work with. I don’t really know him.” A white person would have to meet a much higher threshold to be your friend, but any random black person that you happen to pass in the hall – instant buddies, right? I’m not a racist, I have a black friend, see? 

It’s a kind of racism, a kind of bigotry.

The kind we tolerate and pretend that it’s actually something else.

The same folks who are immediately willing to dismiss this kind of bigotry with a hand wave and a disdainful lament about overly sensitive minorities who they believe have taken Deen’s comments “out of context” in an ongoing effort to oppress white people through “political correctness” are the very same people who are right now spitting blood over President Obama’s supposed “War on Christians” – based entirely on a single comment Obama made last week in Ireland.  To wit, this:

“If towns remain divided, if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.”

Ah yes, obviously President Obama hates Christian and wants to outlaw Christian schools in America because he happened to give an acknowledgement of Ireland’s “Troubles,” i.e. the long history of sectarian warfare between Protestants and Catholics. Because, right, how dare a state leader mention such a thing, when speaking to a group of Irish college kids, Protestants and Catholics and the first generation in literally centuries to sit together without bloodshed and hatred, about that exact thing? Sure, obviously that’s a declaration of Obama’s hatred for Christianity (Or yet another example of most Americans’ staggering ignorance of world history, or their own history for that matter including that of the Antebellum South, but I digress. Again).

And it’s not just race, of course, bigotry is a symptom of hate and fear, rarely does it confine itself to just one target.

Take Pat Buchanan’s comments regarding the recent Pentagon decision to lift the ban against women in combat roles:

This decision to put women in combat represents a capitulation of the military brass, a surrender to the spirit of our age, the Pentagon's salute to feminist ideology

Perhaps Pat would be more comfortable living in a country where the military is not under control of the civilian population. A place where the military makes the rules and the civilians have no say in military matters.

I forget what that’s called, somebody help me out.

In the history of civilization, men have fought the wars. In civilized societies, attacks on women have always been regarded as contemptible and cowardly. Even the Third Reich in its dying hours did not send women into battle, but old men and boys.

Oh, yes, that’s right, Fascism. Thanks for reminding me, Pat.

Because, seriously, that’s your argument? The Third Reich?  Honestly, how far down into your own festering belly button do you have to go, in order to use the fucking Nazis as an example of the kind of society you regard as a moral example? 

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, this is the same racist assclown who thinks slavery was cool because black people got some Jesus with their chains. I mean, what’s next? Are we going to learn how the Holocaust was a good thing for Jews because, hey, they got their own country out of it?

It’s just me, right? I’m the only one whistling Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

Yeah, it’s just me. Never mind.

Nothing matches mortal combat where soldiers fight and kill, and are wounded, maimed and die for cause or country. Domestically, the closest approximations are combat training, ultimate fighting, boxing and that most physical of team sports, the NFL. Yet no women compete against men in individual or team sports. They are absent from boys' and men's teams in high school and college, be it football, basketball, baseball, hockey or lacrosse.

Women are absent from boys’ and mens’ teams?

You mean like that part where pinch faced old men such as Pat Buchanan repeatedly raise holy hell to keep girls off of school ball teams. You mean like that?

Jesus H. Christ, the stones on this guy.

And finally, Buchanan ends with this:

This is another country from the one we grew up in.

Indeed.

Finally, Pat Buchanan managed to get something right, there at the end.

And that takes us full circle, right back to where we started on this parade of bigotry.

This is another country from the one we grew up in. 

This is a country other than the one we grew up in.

Yes it is.

Exactly as intended.

Exactly as it was designed to be.

Just as the United States was a different country from the ones our founding fathers grew up in.

Just as the country of today is not the one Paula Deen grew up in, or Don Young, or Pat Buchanan.

It’s a country where we (mostly) will no longer tolerate white sheets and hoods and burning crosses.

But it’s still a country where we tolerate a certain kind of racism, a certain kind of bigotry, a certain kind of hate.

It’s still a country where prominent politicians running for President, where sitting members of both state and federal legislatures, where famous religious leaders and pundits feel free to publically dismiss slavery as a good thing, to engage in overt bigotry and hatred towards minorities, towards women, towards differing religions and beliefs – just so long as they hide their intolerance inside nostalgia and wrap it in the Star Spangled Banner and proclaim it’s what Jesus would do.

And it’s long past time we stopped giving this kind of nonsense a pass.





Epilogue: Some folks seem to think that Paula Deen is being judged unfairly. According to my mail, some folks think I might be judging Paula Deen unfairly. 

My first reaction to that is: Whoa, really, Mrs. Deen? Somebody judging you on the way you talk? The color of your skin? The place you were born? The culture you embrace? Why, how horrible for you. How unfair.  It must be terribly frustrating to live in a nation that allows such things to happen.  Now, imagine if you were black, and you worked for, oh, you and your brother Bubba.  Wait, you know what, Mrs. Deen? You don’t have to imagine it, here’s a complete description of what that would be like (PDF).

Any other questions?

212 comments:

  1. I was a young reporter in 1957 when my editor sent me down to Oldsmar, FL, to cover a KKK rally--they called themselves the Knights of the White Camelia and Robert Sheldon was the Grand Klutz or whatever it was called back then--and that's when I first learned what a real Florida cracker was--an ignorant, amoral bigot, and the antithesis of true American citizenship.

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  2. It's not political correctness to stop using the N word and its ilk, it's correctness.

    Duh.

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  3. It's killing me how people keep saying 'It's a witch hunt! They're burning her career at the stake for ONE TIME she used the n-word, 27 years ago"! No, she allowed racism to flourish in her business. She was well aware that 'colored' employees were forced to use separate freakin bathrooms than white ones (among other things) and she did NOTHING.
    And that cloyingly southern accent, it's real common in Georgia - 'Gone with the Wind' central - where classic racism is quite alive and well, I assure you. Funny how those who pine for the Antebellum South don't go out and plow with mules or hand-pick cotton till their fingers bleed! Odd how they miss the whole picture, only seeing themselves perched atop a big pile-o-money wearing floofy pastels. Somehow they never think about all those half-white rape babies, trees of scars across darker backs, or even the more recent, degrading 'paper bag test'.
    It all boils down to pure greed-centered selfishness! And if THAT'S the loving example of a "Good Christian", contrite and repentant, she can keep it!

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    1. FtB Blogger Communist has an excellent post about the abuse of the "witch hunt meme" http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2013/06/20/abused-meme-roundup-witch-hunts/
      The basic thrust.
      "There are, shockingly, people who don’t immediately recognize how stupid this argument is. And because I am in the business of explaining why stupid arguments are stupid, here is a really simple ‘how-to’ guide for recognizing whether or not something is, in fact, a witch hunt:
      Is there a witch?
      Is there fire involved?
      If you answered ‘no’ to either of those questions, then it’s not a witch hunt.
      Let me flesh out a bit what I mean here."

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    2. Just wondering... when a witch hunt ends up actually uncovering a witch, is it still a witch hunt?

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    3. Frank, your comment is unclear. Are you saying you believe in witches, or am I missing some humor or sarcasm?

      By the way, when anyone ever proves magic or anything paranormal is real, then Randi's foundation (randi.org) will give them $1 million. So far, nobody has gotten past the initial stages. Something about these charlatans lets them fleece the gullible on TV for money, but the 'power' is so 'pure' that it eludes scientific analysis (for honest money). Amazing, that.

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    4. which hunt are we talking about?

      I thought a Witch Hunt was when a bunch of Wiccans took a week off from work and headed up to deer camp, usually around the last week in November.

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    5. Oh (whack to own head) I think I get what Frank meant. He's implying that this witch hunt really did find a malefactor. My humor detector was faulty- gotta get it fixed.

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    6. Jim- I love you even more for the mental image of a bunch of my Wiccan buddies (who are, generally speaking, more towards the hippie/granola types) tromping through the woods with flowing skirts & robes with some rifles, looking for deer. :-D

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    7. Another Pagan here giggling about Wiccans with rifles. Seriously, how do you sneak up on something with all those jangling beads and smelling of incense? ;D

      Great article on the 'certain type' of racism. I grew up in the South... in Florida, which does have its crackers, but also has a good mix of more culturally 'aware' folk too. Part of my family is from the SOUTH-South though, and yea. I've seen it. Those who are racist and totally do NOT get it. They just... can't. I'm not excusing it, but it's like a disease, the infection is from birth, strengthened by exposure, and it's hard to treat. Like a parasite that keeps itself safe by disguising itself as something else.

      I don't know how we can fix people like Deen. Dragging each one out into the light, one by one, to burn off the scum, is a tough job. Especially as they tend to crawl right back into their comfy pit as soon as they can. Hopefully though, bit by bit, we're getting to the kids. That's where we'll see progress. Slowly, but it can happen.

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    8. Hey - SOME people hunt with a rifle. I use a Canon.

      (Been wanting to use that for a while now....)

      JC

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  4. Great stuff Jim. I read some of the stuff you have excerpted in this piece and I think: Boy there must be a lot of folks who simply failed to grasp that "Blazing Saddles" was a comedy and that the scene at the beginning of the movie when the boss of the railroad gang exclaims, "When you were slaves you used to sing like birdies!" was intended to get a laugh AND not to paint a historically accurate picture of a slave's life on the plantation.

    Sheesh

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    1. Blazing Saddles is one of the single most scathing take-downs of racism in America that has ever been put on film. Brooks is genius.

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    2. As was Richard Pryor who contributed a large part of the screenplay.

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    3. That's correct. I'd forgotten Pryor was one of the principle writers, he was supposed to star in the movie but there was some controversy over his stage act at the time if I recall (too lazy to query IMDB). So he wrote and Brookes cast Cleavon Little instead - which turned out to be a another brilliant choice.

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    5. Correcting some spelling and grammar.

      Mel Brooks, in the recent "American Masters" on him, acknowledged that the studio felt, given his drug usage, Richard Pryor would be unreliable and, more importantly, uninsurable as the lead actor in the film.

      Cleavon Little was an inspired choice to replace him.

      An announcer at one of our local NPR outlets was Richard Pryor's road manager during his "crazy days" and he has some tales to tell.

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    6. "NOBODY MOVES OR THE N****R GETS IT!"

      has got to be one of the most ironic scenes in movie history. It aptly illustrates the willful ignorance of the American Public.

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    7. Warner Brothers gave Mel Brooks creative control, so he was able to ignore most of their suggestions. Unfortunately, he did agree to cut one line from the end of the famous von Shtupp/Bart scene

      LvS: "It's twoo! It's twoo!"
      Bart: "I hate to disappoint you, Ma'am, but you're sucking on my arm"

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  5. I was a young teen attending a youth camp in South Carolina in the 1960's. We had driven down from a small church group in New Hampshire to assist some "brother church" with rebuilding work after a fire.

    The 1st day we all were going into town we piled into station wagons with our fellow South Carolinians. At which time a frantically waving
    senior citizen came running over to our cars to stop us before we left.

    He explained to us in a very strange way that we "whites" must not sit adjacent to black folks on the same seat.

    The front or back seats must be all one color or we'd get into a lot of trouble. It was eye opening, and a rude awakening.

    For a good look at just how many kinds of prejudice there were (and still are ) in the USA, watch a movie called "The Help" with Emma Stone playing the lead character.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1454029/

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    1. In 1970, my family and I were in Georgia for a conference. I was pregnant with child #3 and accompanied by bio-child #1 (white) and adopted child #2 (black). I got called "cracker" by a white adult. In 1970! When I read the comments on yahoo about the George Zimmerman trial, too many of them are blatantly racist. In 2013!

      Freckles

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    2. It wasn't just the South. In the late 60s (68 or 69, can't quite remember), my brother & I rode the train home from a trip to stay with an aunt and uncle who lived in a suburb. My brother would have been 9 or 10. I was 7 or 8. There was a young black woman on the train with a toddler across the aisle in the row behind us. We passed a lot of our time playing games like peek-a-boo with him.

      While he was sleeping, we went to the observation car. A man who was a couple of rows behind us in our car followed us there and told us that he was sure that our parents wouldn't want us to play with a n****r baby.

      My brother and I were both stunned and, to my brother's credit, he had the courage to tell the man that our parents weren't that stupid and they wouldn't like us talking to a man who used words like that.

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    3. And I am sure most of them voted The Straight Democrat ticket

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    4. And shifted to the straight Republican ticket as soon as LBJ signed the the Civil Rights Act of 1964...

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  6. Part of the reason where sort-of-tolerate it with the old dog you describe, Jim, is that, well, he's old and we're fond of him and he doesn't have much longer to live, and we know the new puppy is being housebroken from the moment it could walk, so once he passes on, the problem will solve itself.

    Paula Dean, on the other hand, has apparently been passing her "southern values" on to her dear, sweet sons, who have been rallying to her defense and apparently see absolutely nothing wrong in what she said.

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  7. For the life of me, I will never understand how people, like Deen, remain stuck in the past, living in antibellem times...where whites were overlords of their plantations. I find noting remotely charming or endearing of this time. It's a shameful part of our collective history that makes me cringe when others want to go there to reminisce in the good old days. Yes Jim, truly it boggles the mind.

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    1. If ONLY all of us were living in antibellum times!

      Keep in mind that Gone With the Wind was a complete fantasy dreamed up long after the Civil War to invigorate toxic nostalgia for the days of unashamed white supremacy. Antebellum life in the Old South was nothing at all like the world cooked up in that sorry novel.

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  8. To be honest, I do have an issue with just how horribly she is being treated, for what she did, given the number of truly horrific racists ("What did Frederick Douglas have to forgive his former master for? Providing him food and shelter?") we still have to deal with. To use your own analogy, smacking her this hard across the nose DOESN'T teach her that she was wrong, it teaches her and others to shut up and not address the very real issues. And by focusing on her, we let the truly awful slide by outside of our attention.

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  9. Some of my best friends are white.

    Danny

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  10. I wouldn't call it hate so much, Jim-- Paula probably doesn't want to see black folks lined up in front of trenches and shot; she probably isn't interested in packing them up in cattle cars for that last ride.

    I call it a "casual contempt" for black people. The kind of contempt that tells her that, well, black people are inferior, and that her status as a superior white person is legitimate.

    It's the kind of contempt that makes conservatives believe that if they have a black person speak their talking points, that other black people will follow right along, because well, black folks just aren't very bright. It's the contempt that refers to the "Democrat Party" as a "plantation," one that "the blacks" are too stupid to walk out of even though conservative policies are demonstrably "better." It's the contempt that says that black people voted for Barack Hussein Obama ONLY because he's a black man; there's no chance-- NO CHANCE-- that he could actually be the better candidate. He's black, after all.

    It's that contempt that convinces them that slavery "wasn't all that bad," because black people are incapable of agency-- black people have no desires or ambitions other than getting high and shooting craps and making babies, they certainly don't read history, perform cost-benefit analyses, and vote in what they perceive as their own best interest.

    I call it the soft side of white supremacy. (I don't tend to use the words "racist" or "racism," because they both sidestep the fundamental concept behind the Old Confederacy from before its founding through long past the Civil Rights Movement- that white people are naturally superior and should be recognized as such in all spheres of life.)

    "Aren't blacks racist, too?" Perhaps so. However, save for a very few examples (such as the current candidate for Lieutenant Governor of the Great State of Virginia), black people are not white supremacists-- and (IMHO) that's the real subject of this post-- and the source of Paula Deen's troubles.

    "Good" people who "don't have a racist bone in their bodies" are the "soft" white supremacists-- they don't hate black people; but they do feel that casual contempt.

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    1. Your response inspired me to check out your blog. You need to start posting again.

      xx
      Your newest follower

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    2. Ditto. Would love to hear more from you, Ivan

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    3. Very thoughtful, very well said.

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  11. It's hard for people that weren't immersed in the culture to understand the depth of the racism we'll carry with us our whole lives but you've hit on a lot of it with this essay and once again I thank you for that. Indeed, my wife and I have no black friends but my daughters do and that’s the kernel of hope we all have for the future. Not all kids will escape that trap but maybe the majority of each generation will.

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  12. Heard a term for this 'kind' of racism... ignoracism... they didn't 'know' what offened others

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  13. Very well written. I'm a bit torn over Paula Deen's plight. Not that I agree in anyway with her excuses, but rather in the way it's been handled by her employer and the media. Let me try to explain with a bit of personal history. When I was a kid I was punished for my transgressions, the consequence of, being disciplined with a razor strap, being made to got to bed without supper, and even told I could not go out to play. One consequence that was probably the hardest was saying " I'm sorry ". Most people find it difficult to admit that they were wrong about something. Another penance I had to perform as a child was that which had to do with doing something bad in school. In grade school if you said something bad to a teacher you were forced to stand in front of the class and apologize, and you stayed after school and wrote on the black board " you wont say that again ".

    My point is this. Paula Deen should not be allowed to fade into obscurity. I think the Food Network could have better served it's viewers by sponsoring Paula Deen in a segment on race. Perhaps have some notables like Al Sharpton, or better yet, the first lady to visit her show. Talk about the importance of respect and using Paula Deen as a teaching tool for inclusion. In this country I think we have become to quick to condemn and punish. I think Martin Luther King would have visited Paula and talked to her.

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    1. Absolutely.

      I think the current overblown response to Deen's racial and historical tone deafness is overblown, verging on mob mentality, and likely driven in part by another kind of racism - i.e. the kind that says, "OMG! I've got to grab a torch and pitchfork or black people will think I'm a racist too! And that'll cost me money..."

      Your suggestion in that last paragraph, inviting the First Lady onto the show is an excellent idea, in a rational world that's exactly what would have happened - But in this world, I suspect it would only feed the bigots I mentioned in the text (I can already hear Rush Limbaugh's voice and the word "uppity" yet again).

      Me? I'd have started by inviting Leonard Pitts, columnist for the Miami Herald. Whenever I need a rational voice on race in America, I always turn to Pitts, the man is simply brilliant. As a writer, I'd give much to meet him some day, I admire the man greatly. Or perhaps W. Kamau Bell, who has the amazing ability to turn racism around onto itself and show just how idiotic it really is.

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    2. Yes, I realize I said "overblown response is overblown." I think I need more coffee.

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    3. Jim, I guess your comment above clarifies more of what I was trying to say yesterday in my post. I in no way condone what she has done, but I see such hypocrisy in the responses from the media and the companies she has worked with and for.

      I was raised for all of my formative years as a military brat, where my father, an officer in the Army, raised all four of his children to believe that we were all equal in importance, and that basically, if you close your eyes, we are all the same. Stationed in Ft. Benning, GA in 1969, it was my father's policy that business and restaurants that did not allow everyone to enter through the front door were off limits to his men. It is the way we lived, and we were taught to live by example. I believe that is the way the future will change, by teaching our children to act more responsibly and with more respect and knowledge than those that went before us. I am positive that my great grandmother (who died in 1984), would roll over in her grave knowing that my grandson and my nieces are mixed race. But my grandparents had already learned that loving a child is easy, no matter what the color. So, for some, change is happening, and that to me is proof that most of us continue to evolve in better ways of thinking. I look forward to many more of your thought provoking essays!

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    4. I grew up in a Marine Corps family. We lived in Albany, Georgia in the early 1960's during the time of"Bull"Connor and Martin Luther King, Jr. My father was from Texas and Oklahoma, where blacks were a bit rarer than Georgia. We all felt that we were the same as other military families, not all that welcome to locals. I kind of took the attitude that we were all"Green"like our father's uniforms. From that awareness it was not such a great step to finding segregation ridiculous and celebrating the diversity within our own family. We are all humans,members of the human race. Any other view is a bit of sophistry to place oneself outside the bounds of human collegiality from my perspective. Paula Deen just doesn't get it if she hasn't learned racism is anti-human propaganda in this day and age. And I pity her for that ignorance.

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    5. Excellent insights here Jim, once again you have nailed it with another thought provoking essay.

      I have never considered myself to be racist. As a child in the south I defended others rights whenever the need arose. As a teen I embraced the concept of “Black is Beautiful”. Having a limited number of true friends and a small social/work circle, it is difficult for me to say that I have friends of color, although I have had many acquaintances, all of whom I liked and a few of whom I admired greatly. But, several years ago, while on the road in Canada, I encountered a situation that really set me back & made me wonder.

      A call from the hotel desk informed me that someone had turned in my passport. When I arrived to retrieve it, the clerks advised me that it had been given to another of the dozen women that I worked with. They did not have a name, so I asked for a description. In reply, I was told that she had dark hair. This only marginally narrowed the field. After several attempts to describe other co-workers, it became apparent that the desk personnel were very uncomfortable. At first I attributed this to their having given my passport to someone else without bothering to identify the person. They seemed very emphatic that none of my descriptions matched the recipient. Then I asked if the person was black. Blushes, tight lips and glares of anger were the response. Apparently, I had uttered, what was to them, a term of such racist expression as to demote my social standing to that of a maggot.

      I had never encountered such a reaction before. It was as if I had shouted the “N” word. Could it be, that I was unintentionally committing the very sort of social slurs that I so abhorred? So I asked the woman who had my passport. When I described what had happened her mouth dropped open in disbelief. Then she started to laugh. Much to my relief, her response was that she considered herself to be black, proud of it and the whole episode was hilarious.

      It was a very interesting lesson. Often, we take for granted our correctness and in so doing can be naïve to different realities. While I cannot condone Paula Deen’s past comments, from this one experience, I can empathize with her shock in discovering that she is now perceived as a racist. From her perspective, she is not and to find otherwise is probably perplexing. Perhaps in 27 years she has changed. We may ever know, but we can hope that this experience will be one of positive growth for her and for the nation. This incident presents us with an opportunity to revisit a conflict too often shied away from. Racism is alive and well in this country…we would do well to stop avoiding it and find some resolution other than superficial “correctness”. It would be wonderful if this media feeding frenzy could be turned into an educational opportunity. Charles Evans’ call for a “teaching tool” is a great suggestion!

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    6. I had something similar happen in one of the record stores I worked in during undergrad. There were some CDs sitting up on the counter when I came in for my shift. I asked why they were there & my co-worker said they were for one of the customers in the store. "Which one?" "The one with the baseball cap." There were three guys with baseball caps on. So, I again asked, "Ah, which one?" Co-worker kinda stammered & vaguely waved his hands in the direction of one of them, at which point I said, "Do you mean the Asian one?" Co-worker was very embarrassed & said, "Don't say it so loud!" I looked at him & said, "Dude, I'm pretty sure he's aware that he's Asian." They did the same thing when a buddy of mine stopped by when I wasn't working. Took me ten minutes to get them to finally admit that the friend was black, which did narrow the field considerably more than, "Ah... he had dark hair..." They did the same, "Don't say it out loud!" thing & I informed them that said friend knew he was black & it was OK to refer to him as being black. I then asked them what planet they were from, because I'm snarky like that. And I should point out that this was in Erie, PA-- the very top of the northwest corner of the state, within spitting distance of the Canadian border.

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    7. I doubt the Food Network has the authority to plan the First Lady's schedule. Also, while the domino effect of sponsor rejection may be harsh, perhaps the hard way through the pocket book may be the only way for Paula to get the message. If you're too toxic even for Walmart, that should make you think...

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  14. Worst case scenerio for Deen is she markets her shit to the same idiots who spend money on Glen Beck books, Sarah Palin and more. The 27percent now have gheir own cook.

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    1. Good! Harden their arteries that much faster.

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  15. I can't tell you how many people I have fought for YEARS who insisted that the attacks against the Obamas were not racially motivated. They truly do not believe that racism still exists in this country. They think that simply because we don't tolerate the white sheets, as you put it, or utter the word "nigger" over dinner as casually as we say "pass the butter" that we've managed to cure our racism and heal our past.

    No, instead what we're now seeing is it just taking on a different form. It's like the law of thermodynamics... racism can't be destroyed, only changed. And we must remain ever vigilant to the forms it's taking and continue the fight. Thank you for bringing attention to this issue in such a candid and well thought out way. I hope it makes at least a few people living in denial finally get it.

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  16. My dad was born in southern VA in 1931, making him an older dog that Miz Deen. They had "help" (cook/nanny/housekeeper), of whom my grandmother said "She's one of the better class of negroes around here". He went to a private school and did not interact with peers of any color other than white until he was in college. Then he moved to metro Detroit and was working with "them" at various levels of expertise as he worked in the engine design division at Ford.

    My dad isn't a particularly reflective or talkative person, but every now and then we manage a thoughtful, sensitive conversation. Over the past few years I've taken to (to borrow your metaphor) showing him the poop and the newspaper rather than smacking him with it. I asked him about being on the "white" side of school integration at the collegiate level and he talked about the world-shaking realization that the black student admitted to his program was much better at advanced math than he was. He then talked about veterans returning with war brides of varied colors from various places in the world and wondering why these foreigners (I didn't say it was pretty) were more socially acceptable friends/partners than Americans who were black. Other teaching-experience stories have emerged over time, including the development of actual, real friendships with particular black colleagues and associates - which yes, included phone calls and shared meals at homes. Shared grief when their son was paralyzed in a car accident, and when my mom died.

    But he has also told me there have been times when cooking in his kitchen (a favorite hobby), with Tom and Bernadette at the table he has a flash of "what are they doing over there", and "wow, this is backwards". He teared up as he said it, and I think it took a tremendous amount of courage to speak it. He followed by saying that his brain knows it's wrong - morally, spiritually, any way you slice it - and as soon as the thought is there he recognizes the wrongness, but that there is something so deeply embedded in his being that he has no power to stop the thought from happening to begin with. He's come a long, long way from where he started, but there is something so deeply embedded that if it hasn't been over written by now it isn't going to be.

    That being said, Dad grew beyond his raising, beyond "I is what I is and I'm not going to change", because he encountered situations where he had to choose between making a cosmetic change or making a real one, was intelligent enough, and had the social support, to make it real. Miz Deen, who I am sure has had similar opportunities (being a child of the 60s and not the 30s) has made the opposite choice, and made sure she had the social support to maintain that choice as well.

    So, I think Ivan and Ray above are correct, but also Owen. I suspect she will find more in all this to reinforce her image of herself as victim of "reverse racism" ("Evil people want to take what I have" - one guess as to how she refers to "evil people" in private company...) than she will take any opportunity to do real reflection and make real changes.


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    1. I'm close to Paula Deen's age, and you have said precisely what I think happens to me: "there is something so deeply embedded that if it hasn't been over written by now it isn't going to be." I don't have what Jim would call "black friends," but I also don't have more than maybe a couple of "white friends," either; I'm to introverted and reclusive to have either. I do have many students of many races, and I have learned that the difference between races is mythical, but I do often have a knee-jerk reaction that is that "something" that I can't really overcome. Thanks for putting it so wisely.

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  17. It is kind of amazing that folks are hanging someone for something they said 30 years ago and ignoring what those that are public figures say now. What I am finding amazing is that as long as it is coming from a liberal pundit it is OK. I find it amazing that only white folks can be bigots but any supposed minority can say what they want in the way of racial slurs with impunity. i find it amazing that because I don't like a politician's agenda that I am considered a racist. It amazes me that so many forget that we have a first amendment right to say what we wish. I find it amazing at how many are willing to throw it away. Watching the progression of political correctness over the last 20 years it will not be too much longer and this piece could get folks thrown in jail if it offends anyone. I am amazed that folks seem to think they have a right to not be offended. Perhaps they have never really sat down and read the constitution and they thought about it. No they are too busy showing their asses by trying to run down someone else over nothing. Doing so is just another form of racism.

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    1. The first amendment does not mean that what you say is without repercussions. She has every right to say and hold the opinions that she does. It also means that her employer has the right to reject those opinions and say things like, you are fired and as your employer will not allow you to represent me to the public. The employer is only doing what any good capitalist would, that is protecting their brand and trying to make as much profit for their investors as possible. Why is it that so many people don't understand that even if someone will defend your right to say whatever you want, they also have the right to tell you they disagree and get off my lawn?

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    2. Crapped on the carpet lately, Bill?

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    3. The First Amendment guarantees your right to speak your mind without *government* reprisal. It is NOT a guarantee, as you assert, "to say whatever you wish" without consequence - be those consequences social, financial, or simply personal.

      No one is questioning Paula's "right" to say what she thinks. Just remember that everyone else has the equal right *to respond in kind*. And if her various employers' and backers' response is "You're fired", well, thats the way the cookie crumbles, so to speak.

      And, for what it's worth, the case which generated the deposition alleges highly racist language and behavior, consistently over time, perpetrated primarily by her brother Bubba. The case is not about one word uttered 30 years ago following a violent burglary - I think most people would forgive that pretty understandably. Now, granted, the media is focusing on Deen because 1: it was her deposition that was leaked, and 2. she is the much more public figure/face (maybe because her brother would be found completely unpalatable by the target audience? hmmmmm).

      You have the right to make the post you did.
      I have the right to respond with Shakespeare, "the lady doth protest too much, methinks..."

      (Blogger doesn't want to recognize me, fwiw this is trouvera)

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    4. "I am amazed that folks seem to think they have a right to not be offended." -- Bill j. Canada, completely unaware he's used the word "amazed" as a poor substitute for "things that offend Bill j. Canada."

      --Michael

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    5. You logged in from Kentucky, Bill, but you're what? Originally from the panhandle of Florida, Or is it Lower Alabama?

      For those of you not familiar with the Southern regional colloquialism, "showing your butt" or "showing your ass" it basically means "uppity." When you say it to a kid, you're saying he's too big for his britches, when you say it to an adult you're deliberately being condescending. It's a Southern thing.

      It is kind of amazing that folks are hanging someone for something they said 30 years ago and ignoring what those that are public figures say now.

      By "folks" you mean me, right? But you don't have the guts to say so, so you did the passive aggressive thing as if you're talking from a position of morale authority instead of Kentucky. I think this was covered by Trouvera in a previous comment, but in case you missed it, the actual amazing part is that folks like you are willing to edit out the real issue, which is Deen's documented history of casual racism, not one word thirty years ago. It's sort of like how I mentioned in the text that Pat Buchanan managed to get from "slave ships" to "freedom and prosperity" by ignoring several hundred years of misery and bondage.

      What I am finding amazing is that as long as it is coming from a liberal pundit it is OK. I find it amazing that only white folks can be bigots but any supposed minority can say what they want in the way of racial slurs with impunity.

      Beg pardon? Please quote the portion of the essay above where I said or implied any such thing. Hell, you know what, read every essay I ever wrote, and quote me saying that. Go on, I'll wait.

      i find it amazing that because I don't like a politician's agenda that I am considered a racist.

      Again, quote please. I called out specific prominent politicians, are you Pat Buchanan? Are you Michele Bachmann? Or is this intended as a sly analogy of Deen's self styled martyrdom? Oh, why are you picking on me? If you see yourself in this essay, well then that's on you. You deal with it.

      It amazes me that so many forget that we have a first amendment right to say what we wish. I find it amazing at how many are willing to throw it away.

      You have the right to say what you wish, you don't have the right to impose your ideas on others against their will. You also don't have the right to speak without consequence. You act like a racist ass in public, you get a public shaming. Welcome to America.

      Watching the progression of political correctness over the last 20 years it will not be too much longer and this piece could get folks thrown in jail if it offends anyone.

      Are you on medication? Because if you're not, you should seriously consider it.

      I am amazed that folks seem to think they have a right to not be offended. Perhaps they have never really sat down and read the constitution and they thought about it. No they are too busy showing their asses by trying to run down someone else over nothing. Doing so is just another form of racism.

      Thanks for being the exact guy I was talking about in the essay. Thank you so much for proving my point. Well done.

      Here's the thing, Bill. The government owes you the right to speak freely, I don't. You're done here, fuck off back to Kentucky now and don't come back.



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    6. Hahahahahhahahhhaha. Great satire, Bill. Really funny. It *was* satire wasn't it, Bill?

      Miz Deen isn't being hung for anything. The big corporations who do business with her are adjusting their commercial relationships. They've got a right don't they, Bill?

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    7. Look around on the interwebs. Bill's really stoked about the idea that some Occupy Wall Street types might show up to occupy his property. Why they'd want to is anybody's guess. Anyway, he'd like to work them into his compost pile and watch them rot. No kidding.

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    8. Well, at least Bill isn't a racist, that's something.

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    9. I don't know. Something tells me Bill would be happy to turn the clock back to 1957. Maybe 1857? But I guess that's just me showing my ass.

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    10. Bill shows us that casual contempt that conservatives have for black people-- hell, for anyone who isn't "white."

      Then the Chief brings the EPIC smackdown; and it's a beautiful thing to see.

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    11. Wow! I would love for Bill to meet Jane Elliott (Who is also from Ms Deen's era. Look up "Blue eyed/Brown Eyed" on The you tubes) and watch her teach him about what racism is about.

      I wish Bill would understand that any lashing out that "minorities" do is not unlike an 8yo trying to punch a brick wall. Feckless at best. There is no real slur against those who run everything, own everything and dictate everything. It comes from a place of anger and frustration.

      I am not truly advocating racial slurring against White people, because it really doesn't solve the bigger problem of all of us understanding each other and getting along.

      But keep in mind, there continues to be an imbalance of power between the haves and have nots.

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    12. Regarding Bill's assertion that the public outcry against Deen stems from the single use of an offensive word 30 years ago, ah no.

      Here's a link to the actual criminal complaint. As you can see, there's just a bit more to Paula Deen's racism than the use of one word many years ago. Much, much more. This is the person you're defending, Bill, read it through and think about it.

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    13. I read that and think it is very civilized of Ms Jackson to only sue Big Bubba, and not put a .357 between his eyeballs, or elsewhere.

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    14. I find it amazing that anyone would consider you a racist Bill....lol [tongue firmly planted in cheek]

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    15. Re: "Showing [one's] ass".
      It doesn't mean "uppity", it means making a scene or making a fool of one's self, especially in front of an audience. The cleaner term "showing out" was used for children, as in "what do you mean by showing out in front of Grandma like that?"

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    16. Decided to post as Anonymous this time, eh, Bill?

      Probably a good idea.

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    17. Re "Showing [one's] ass"

      Where I grew up in NW Florida, it did not mean 'uppity', it meant you were a complete boor and moron. I only heard it used by a family of moonshiners. And they were only referring to their relatives.

      Danny

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    18. Maybe instead of showing your ignorant ass, Bill, you go read the court documents filed against Deen and her redneck brother.

      Those acts WEREN'T 30 years ago, they were as recent as 2010.

      Get back to us when you've read them.

      Jeff Lamm

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    19. For what it's worth: My wife uses the phrase about showing one's ass in the sense of letting your ire or frustration with someone to slip through. Almost a synonym for getting snippy. Getting your back up (which could be of related origin, now I think about it)

      Bruce

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    20. I am originally from Kentucky, and I was originally somewhat racist. I like think I have recovered from both now.

      I am now from New York and on a recent return to Kentucky, was quite repelled. My son (17) who had no knowledge of this on our drive back, on re-entering the Great State of New York said, totally unprompted:

      "Wow. It's good to be back to Civilization."
      JC

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  18. You've hit the nail on the head with stunning accuracy (as I've come to expect in your posts). I was born and raised in NC, and still live there. Obviously I grew up with racism, both the hateful, out there for all to see and hear brand of racism, as well as the more subtle racism of women like Paula Deen. Some of the things I heard growing up still make me shiver when I recall them. But there was also a much calmer, more insidious racism, which everyone thought was OK, normal even. To this day my 80 year old mother just doesn't understand why I cringe when she makes remarks such as "Mary is colored, but she seems like a nice person". I've tried to explain it to her, to no avail. She, and many others like her, just don't get it, and they likely never will.

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  19. I lived in Kansas City, Kansas when I was young. The schools, movie theaters and I guess most everything else were separate; black and white. At age 12, with parents who really never discussed such things one way or the other, I gave it no thought. That an old black lady would step off the sidewalk into the gutter when she passed me was just what was.

    When I was 15 we moved to Wichita, Kansas which was further South, but also further away from segregation. On my first day in school, I could not believe my eyes when a black girl took a desk next to me. I can see her today, tall and pretty, smart and friendly. There were no separate theaters in Wichita, but the blacks had to sit in the balcony. And, I'm sure there was more segregation that I just never noticed. I've never used the "n" word, but to be very honest...I have no black friends. I wish I did.

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  20. Excellent piece, provoking excellent discussion, as always. So I'm nitpicking when I suggest you meant "racial epithets on church doors".

    Maryellen

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    1. You know, no matter how many times I make that exact mistake, I never seem to learn...

      Thanks, I'll fix it.

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    2. But the old racist KKK High Mogul Robert Byrd kept being elected by straight party Democrats. Matter of fact a big majority of the KKK members were straight party voting Democrats.

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    3. I guess you didn't get the 1964 party switch o' change o' memo.

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  21. At a girls' boarding school in the mid 60's, a white classmate from the deep South struggled with having two black classmates, one of whom was also Southern. She expressed that it was simply outside of her experience to treat these young women as peers, to share classrooms and bathrooms and be respectful. However challenged, she seemed to triumph over her upbringing, earning a rainbow of friends in the process. It can be done, but one must have the self-awareness that the ground needs to shift under one's status quo instead of merely avoiding a word or two in public dialogue. Suzn

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    1. And this is the crime and the glory, as I see it. People can overcome their taught racism, bigotry, and all the other petty bits of human culture, but they have to put in the effort. Polite society can whack 'em across the nose when they say something stupid in public but it can't change their minds for them.

      To be quite honest, we can't really fix the Paula Deens of the world, the well-meaning but backwards ignoramuses who just can't conceptualize what harm they may be causing. All we can do is lead them to water, but it's up to them to drink it, and prevent more from being made as best we can.

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    2. I went to Army Basic in the 80's and was with girls who had never been in a mixed race situation before. White and black. I was from Florida and while I was used to being integrated... I really didn't know how to deal with those who weren't, especially as many of them thought I was mixed race or Latino simply because I was very darkly tanned. I was treated as the white girl who wasn't actually white. It wasn't racism exactly, but it was extreme ignorance, and really weird and uncomfortable. ah well... our kids are learning :)

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  22. Jim, as usual a very well written entry that hits the nail directly on the head, as do the comments that follow. Because I'm kind of a grammar Nazi, I was wondering if your use of the word "epitaph" in the opening of your post is a Freudian slip, of sorts, or if the word should be "epithet"?

    That being said, I've already encountered many folks who believe Paula Deen should be reinstated, that our societal "political correctness" has gone too far. In a blatantly analytical perspective, I'd have to say this is cutthroat capitalism at work, as well. We've seen it, and continue to see it, with the number of advertisers leaving the Rushbo in droves. Bottom line, at least from my perspective, is we live in a capitalistic system. Regardless of whether there is racism, latent racism, or any other label we want to put on it, the fact is the market decides whether or not people like Deen or the Rushbo get to continue in their bigotry, whether it is overt or covert in nature. In that regard, the consumer DOES have a voice and, if companies whose bottom lines depend on those consumers for existence choose to ignore the consumers wishes, they do so at their own risk.

    In this instance, as with the Rushbo instance surrounding Sandra Fluke, the consumers are speaking, and the sponsors are apparently listening. Granted, there are some consumers, as has been very well documented in the comments above, who either choose to keep on indulging their own (and others) latent racism and bigotry by demanding Deen's reinstatement. Your assessment she will reappear wrapped in a different wardrobe is spot on, IMHO. I sincerely hope not, but it will more than likely happen.

    Thanks, again for posting this.

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    1. It was supposed to "epithets," as noted in a previous comment, I tend to make this mistake with predictable frequency. You'd think I'd start using a different word.

      As to your other point, frankly, I can't see conservatives objecting to market-based solutions to any problem, including Paula Deen's racism. I'm not sure what they're hollowing about at this point, but then I don't think they know either.

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    2. Yeah, I'm not sure either. To me, it's the irony of the situation. So many are focusing their ire on use of a politically incorrect word while seeming to ignore free market principles. We have a local message board where this type of discussion is ongoing as we speak. The consensus appears to be a wish to have Ms. Deen reinstated because the N word, to them, is not a hate word. Their view is that we've become too politically correct in our approach to conversations, discussions, and debates. Very shallow, from my perspective.

      Not only should these folks take into consideration everything you've said, and many of the people who've provided comments here have said, as well, but they should also consider if enough consumers speak out and boycott, the free market dictates longevity (or lack thereof) because money, after all, is the bottom line of most corporate and conservative ideologues, IMHO.

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    3. Conservatives always bemoan "political correctness" and the supposed death of free speech ... right up until a liberal calls Palin's kid a retard, then it's a different story.

      In my experience, those that complain about political correctness are just mad that they can't act like assholes in public without getting called out on it. Like Deen, they want the right of Free Speech Without Consequence, not what's actually guaranteed by the First Amendment.

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    4. Well, yeah. All that "they're trampling our rights!" ranting? Conservatives have a /much/ more exclusive notion of the concept of 'us'.

      To liberals (at least, to me and to most people I know that self-identify as liberal), "us" means "you, me, everyone in this country at the very least and everyone on the planet if we can manage to stretch that far without doing more harm than good", because regardless of race or gender or creed we're all human beings.

      To conservatives, "Us" means, "Me, and people who think/look/dress like me", and everyone else can go hang. The eternal party of "Got mine, fuck you."

      So when Rush Limbaugh goes on a two-hour fact-free rant crossing the line into sexual harassment on Sandra Fluke, he's a Good American exercising his First Amendment Right to Free Speech and if you don't like it you should grow a thicker skin, but when people call him out for being an asshole it's anti-christian bigotry and when people "vote with their dollars" and stop paying him for advertisements, it's "censorship" and "bullying". When religious nutcases shoot abortion doctors or bomb abortion clinics they're "disturbed individuals" and "isolated incidents", but /one/ liberal loon taking a random shot near the FRC headquarters (and managing to kill absolutely nobody) and the ACLU and the SPLC are neo-liberal hate groups painting a big fat target on poor oppressed Christian groups everywhere...

      ... Sorry, ranting. I'll stop now.

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  23. My father is one of those who talk about how when he was a kid nobody cared if you were called kike, or chink or "buttons" (he was mennonite, no zippers for his jeans) - it was just a name and not meant to hurt. I try to remind him that he was just an innocent kid, and did not know the words were meant to hurt - but the adults knew and the words hurt then just as much as now. But he doesn't get it, and never will.

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    1. And yet George Carlin is correct when he says "they're just words:" that's the entire principle of reappropriation. The problem is that one can't simply declare them neutral, even if their use is truly intended purely neutrally. For slurs to become truly neutral terms there has to be a total disconnect in society from the intended insult.

      The only example I can think of off the top of my head is "to gyp," which is almost never associated with the Roma anymore and surprises people when the "gypsy" connection is brought up. The problem here is "almost never;" there are still people who see the Roma as a problem and use "to gyp" in a way that should make us recoil just as if we heard someone use "to jew."

      Delete
  24. Great post, Jim. I think everyone who has bailed from the U.S.S. Paula Deen has done so not because they abhor racism but for self-preservation. They know what a shitstorm she has started and they don't want to get caught in the crap shrapnel. They can't take the chance that their profits might suffer because of an association with her. But I guarantee when she makes her comeback, they will be right there to ride the coattails of the money-making machine that she is. Talk about hypocrites.
    I would like to share a comment from our paper in regard to the DOMA ruling by SCOTUS. The spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg said, "Everyone should be treated equally, but it is not discrimination to treat differently things that are different.".
    Have fun trying to figure THAT one out.
    Pam in PA

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    1. The Catholic diocese spokesweasel probably means exactly the words used, though he may be unaware how much his wording reveals. The diocese thinks that gay people are "things", and so do not deserve to be treated like human beings. It's just another form of tribalism, "us" (humans) vs. "other". This seems to be true of most strongly religious folks. It reflects a lack of empathy.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. The statement is also a two-part communication:

      "Everyone should be treated equally"
      (Hey, General Public, here's your nice-sounding equality shit)

      "It is not discrimination to treat differently things that are different"
      (Hey, fellow Catholics, we know them gays are not like us, so we should not treat them the same way, know what I mean?)

      Delete
  25. First of all ... excellent, excellent piece of writing, sir.
    Second, I don't get the "Paula Deen's from another generation" argument. She's 66 years old. She was a teenager when the civil rights movement was hitting full swing. She was 19 when the Voting Rights Act (which just took a beating this week at the Supreme Court) was enacted. She was old enough to witness and understand these struggles happening all around her and young enough to have it shape her world view during what are still formative years. If ANYONE should have an innate, ingrained understanding of how offensive behavior like hers is, it should be someone of her generation who grew up where these battles were being the most fiercely fought.
    Your observation that she just doesn't get it is spot on. I believe her when she says she doesn't mean to hurt anyone. But that doesn't mean we need to reward that behavior. You're never too old to learn.

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    1. Ah, but here's the rub: her particular part of her generation was the one "on the wrong side of history," as it were. She probably grew up being told that the Montgomery Police Department was doing the right thing, quelling riots and keeping the peace. That segregation was important for social order. That the VRA was oppressing whites and the South as an extension of the War of Northern Aggression.

      That's probably exactly what she was taught to call the Civil War, too. The War of Northern Aggression. That sums everything up nicely.

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    2. I agree we are never too old to learn, but you cannot undo your past. Be it thoughtless speech or recreational drugs, sometimes its difficult to find someone who didn't participate.

      Delete
    3. I am Paula Deen's age. I am also a white southerner. I grew up being told exactly the sorts of things that Scolopendra mentions. My father was openly racist. My mother is more like Paula.

      When I was in nursing school, my first patient was a black man. I was appalled. I had to give him a back rub. That meant that I had to (gasp!) touch him. LOL

      I got over it. Before too many years passed, I had actually made a real friend who happened to be black. The "eat dinner at her house," "chat on the phone", "gripe about in-laws" kind of friend.

      I learned. I watched and I began to realize how hurtful words can be, how they reflect not just thoughts, but overarching attitudes. I didn't want to be a racist jerk, so I worked at not doing that.

      And the change involved not only my attitudes about race, but also about sexual orientation and any number of other issues that separate people.

      I have almost no sympathy for Paula Deen. She has blinders on and refuses to take them off.

      Your article was excellent.

      Delete
    4. I agree. Hell, I'm a southerner born and bred. Florida (The Cracker part) and North Carolina. I spent a good part of my formative years in a "Sundown" town, as in, "don't let your black face be in this town after Sundown, boy." My father was one clean sheet short of being an actual Klanner. I grew up hearing the N-word incessantly, and seeing black people blamed for everything.

      Deen and I are not that far apart in age. Given her international experience and exposure to people and races from all over the world, theres simply NO excuse for her behavior. I was brought up in it, and so was she. If I can not subscribe to that programming so can she.

      Delete
    5. And Ms. Davis and Cthulhu, you're both demonstrative of why we can't let Deen slide, even if it was her culture and upbringing. Past tense: if she wants to be a part of civil society, she has to keep up with it.

      Delete
  26. This is so sweeping and clear. I loved reading it; thank you.

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  27. I forgot to mention that, judging by the number of trucks, hats, and other articles of clothing and decoration sporting the Confederate flag even here in a northern state, non-so-subtle racism is alive and well and not confined to the old-timey South that Paula insists she doesn't represent. But they're not public figures with money-making empires so I guess they get a pass.
    Pam in PA

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    1. Exactly so.

      Of course, those who fly the Confederate battle flag claim they're just exercising their 1st Amendment right, which is ironic, given that that flag represents a force that directly attempted to destroy that right by force, along with all the others.

      You have Freedom of Speech in America, but if you truly respect that right, then you wouldn't abuse it in such a manner. Just saying.

      Delete
    2. I went to high school in Northern Kentucky. I had this argument on a roughly daily basis. "You wouldn't fly the Nazi German flag ever, you wouldn't fly the Imperial Japanese Navy ensign in China, this is the exact same thing. Just as it doesn't matter that the Nazi flag also represented order and social equality (for everyone not untermenschen) and it doesn't matter that the IJN ensign represented hope and opportunity, it doesn't matter that the Stars-and-Bars represents freedom (for whites) and self-determination."

      We already have a symbol for freedom and self-determination: the flag of the United States of America.

      Of course, some First Nation peoples may and probably should take exception to this, but then we quickly reach the point where all symbols have grime on them.

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    3. Scolopendra:
      Let's be brutally honest. Most national symbols have some grime on them, to use your words, even one we happen to love and honor. It is our opportunity and obligation to embrace all of the truth of our history, especially when it makes us uncomfortable and ashamed. Facing it is the only way to learn from it and make our present and our future better. Ignorance is not bliss, for anyone. Ms. Deen is justifying her racism by pleading ignorance of the pain (harm) she has caused. Why should we aspire to ignorance?

      Delete
    4. Mr. A:

      Note the only difference between our stances is "most national symbols" and "all symbols." ;)

      Delete
  28. Bravo Jim. You do such a great job explaining the unexplainable.

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  29. "Are we going to learn how the Holocaust was a good thing for Jews because, hey, they got their own country out of it?"

    For me this seems to stem from a certain religiosity, as well.

    Why did little Johnnie die? So that God could have him in Heaven sooner.
    Why did the earthquake destroy our church? So we could build a bigger one to God.

    It's this attitude that things don't happen because of human agency, or nature, or even random chance--it's all part of the script by God the Screenwriter and you'll find out why next season, just stay tuned to WGOD!

    The kind of mindset which accepts that sort of thinking finds solace in the idea of God the Screenwriter--and perpetuates it throughout their worldview as pap to others.

    Bea

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    1. Jim's west of the Mississippi, it would be KGOD.

      Delete
  30. The right PR firm already exists. Hill & Knowlton. Sold the U.S. on the original Gulf War with a pack of lies. Did PR rehab for Scientology. Paula Deen would be a piece of cake.

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    1. Cake. Fatty, fatty cake, with ice cream and hot fudge. mmmm. Cake.

      Delete
    2. She's apparently already hired Michael Vick's reputation rehab people.
      http://www.grubstreet.com/2013/06/paula-deen-judy-smith.html

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    3. It's funny, in the original draft of this post, I mentioned Vick right after Martha Stewart, but I thought Tony The Weiner was more appropriate.

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    4. Jim, You know you just wanted the visual effect! You are a ham at heart.

      Delete
  31. Someone should invite her to Senegal - to stand, for as long as she needs to, in the doorway, the door on Goree Island ~ The Door of No Return.
    If she indeed has a heart to be changed - That might do it.
    Insulating herself in the Deep South culture that she's been bred and raised in ~ is a hard shell to crack.
    But it could happen...

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  32. Excellent, as always. Two thumbs up!

    But could you provide a link to the Deen apology where there were tears? I have watched several and I never saw any tears, especially the Matt Lauer apology. It sounded 'teary', but she never had to wipe her eyes or her nose. Of course I may have just missed them. I don't have hi-def TV.

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  33. Just a quibble about word choice. Gentile means not Jewish. Genteel is what my mother hoped I'd be. Genteel: Polite, refined, or respectable, often in an affected or ostentatious way.

    It's in the paragraph that starts "But Don, see..."

    Great work, sir.
    Elizabeth Potter Graham, half NE Yankee, half genteel Alabama lady

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    Replies
    1. You know, I knew that was the wrong word when I typed it. Thanks for pointing it out, it's fixed.

      Delete
    2. Mormons also use Gentile referring to non-Mormons. Just sayin'

      NaluGirl

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  34. In 1964 I went from CA to SC and enrolled in high school in Charleston. When I spoke up about school segregation not being in effect in CA, and black kids and white kids sitting together in classes and on buses, etc., I got shocked silence in return. I also got shunned! I had a teacher tell me that the rising civil unrest was only because of the kids raising Cain--as if youth isn't usually the source of social change because older folks are normally engrossed in simply trying to make a living.

    Ms Deen knew exactly what she was saying, and it's simply because she was raised to think it is OK to think and talk that way. She's just sorry she got caught.

    I agree that the reaction to her deposition seems to be overblown when all the other SOBs make such blatantly racist statements, but hopefully the ballotbox will take care of them. Now, it's up to every American citizen to speak up and not allow such horrible things to be said about other American citizens, no matter their color.

    And if you think her exposed innate racism is awful, just read some of the comments on various blogs, etc. It's enough to make the skin crawl on the back of your neck.

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  35. This is why racism will always be around in the USA.


    You've got to be taught
    To hate and fear,
    You've got to be taught
    From year to year,
    It's got to be drummed
    In your dear little ear
    You've got to be carefully taught.

    You've got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
    And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
    You've got to be carefully taught.

    You've got to be taught before it's too late,
    Before you are six or seven or eight,
    To hate all the people your relatives hate,
    You've got to be carefully taught!

    I live close to Jonesboro,Arkansas where Jon Hubbard lives and I read his book. The book oozes with contempt for black people and you can tell very easily that he feels that black people are inferior to whites.

    On top of that he's a bat-shit crazy birther.
    Phyllis from Arkansas

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    1. Hi Phyllis, I'm from Batesville, AR, although I now live in the Northwest. I'm easily amused, so in 1979, working at Pizza Hut there, one of my friends who just happens to be a very large, very tall black man, would come pick up my 8 month pregnant white 18 year old self so I wouldn't have to walk home in the heat. He and my husband got the biggest laugh out of seeing people's faces when he would come in and say, "come on honey, time to go home!". Maybe we at least made some people think, if only for a moment.

      Delete
    2. The studio really would have preferred that the movie version not include that song. Rogers & Hammerstein said, "Nope, it stays."

      Delete
  36. Oy vey -- when I heard this was all about Paula Deen using the "n" word in the past, I thought this all happened decades ago Nope. Not only is she an overt racist, but she also allows sexual harassment to run rampant in her organization. Just linked to the court complaint. If half of this is true, I hope the very knives in her butter-slathered kitchen turn against her. She played right into the stereotype of the weak female when she let her brother run roughshod over the plaintiff and others. Paula Deen could have, and should have, kicked his ass to the curb. She's a poor excuse for a human being and a worse excuse for a woman. And her leadership skills leave a little to be desired. And that's all I have to say about that.

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  37. I loathe the current trend of saying "I'm so sorry!" when what they really mean is "I'm so sorry this became public!"

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    Replies
    1. It's "I'm sorry I got caught".

      Delete
  38. I'll agree with Parrothead, I was initially bothered by the idea that she was asked about, and the pilloried on the basis of a comment made many years ago. If that had been all it was, I think I would be defending her, but she did much more than say a word, or re-tell a joke in bad taste many years ago. That she has a long contemporary string of abuses makes the use of that particular word unimportant.

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  39. "Honestly, how far down into your own festering belly button do you have to go, in order to use the fucking Nazis as an example of the kind of society you regard as a moral example?"

    Quite possibly the best sentence I've read all year, and I read for a living.

    Brilliant. Thank you, as always!

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  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  41. In some ways, the racial aspect of the Deen case is merely the tool used to knock another pompous somewhat-rich self-caricaturing celebrity off of their pedestal. We Americans love to do this just as surely as we like to make them a little wealthy and famous to begin with and ultimately, if they're contrite enough, do it again. We've seen this happen to Tiger Woods due to his philandering, and, on a lesser scale, to Michael Richards for his N-wordusage and Gilbert Gottfried's ill-advised postJapanese tsunami tweets costing him his AFLAC ads. The reasons almost don't matter-it's watching these pseudo-celebrities fall, publically apologize, and lose a few $ million in this National Enquirer type of class warfare that we enjoy so much.

    Paula's brother Bubba, facing more than a few sexual harassment accusations in this trial, actually stinks from the head even more than she does, but he's not the public face of the family, she is. Paula was very rightly called out by Anthony Bourdain and others for the hypocrisy of her sugar and fat laden recipes vs her diabetes diagnosis. The now cancelled Paula Deen's New Testament cookbook, which was number 1 on the Amazon pre-order lists until the publisher pulled the plug-leaving $ millions on the table-was basically her (or her staff) stripping the fat and sugar out of her old recipes, so they could be re-sold to the public once again but this time, all cleaned up. No hamburgers served between two doughnuts this time.

    An editorial I read on the 'net somewhere stated that the Deen brand of racism and hypocrisy will still prove popular among regional areas where this sort of thing is rampantly common. What you can't do, the writer says, is have any part of it associated with a national brand. The Facebook and church street sign support for her regardless of this latest foible would seem to be evidence of that. There will still be some cash flow, perhaps even more $$ for awhile like what happened in the Chik-fil-A gay boycott, but her lack of big time TV exposure will financially damage the brand in the long run.

    Her sons, who are not part of the trial, appear to be untouched by this brouhaha, and will likely keep their own lesser successes for awhile, although the apron string coat tail effect will carry them less and less now.

    At the end of the day, much like Martha Stewart, Paula will appear contrite enough to gain back her fair weather fans and their accompanying $$. Her true fans never left, keeping her pedestal warm until she could climb back up on it again.

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  42. Thanks for the tip about Leonard Pitts. I've never heard of him before now, but now I'm reading over his editorials. Wish we had more like him (especially here in Arizona)

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  43. Wow. Did not know about the court case. Right on again Jim
    Having lived in FL for 20+ years now, I can tell you racism is alive and well down here. But I will also tell you the first time I saw a burning cross was on the hillside of a bedroom community of Northern New Jersey in the early 60's. The next cross I saw was in the 80's in a town just north of Indianapolis. The South doesn't hold the rights to racism in this country by any stretch of the imagination . . .
    Thanks for the sanity Jim,
    Duff in NoFla

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  44. As usual, spot on. Thank you. I find it amazing that I was in a bit of a hurry to finish the article, so I could get to the inevitable smack down. It's like Thanksgiving, I always enjoy the civilized meal and polite conversation, but am secretly waiting for my uncles to start drinking.

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  45. The churchs are the bedrock of the communities of the South. Until they start preaching against the casual bigotry of the Deens and their ilk, nothing will change. When a new person moves into town, the first question is "What church do you go to?" Don't dare say " Well, none"
    or you are immediately on the outside. There is, I suppose, the idea that the thing to do is stay and fight but bigotry is so entrenched that the hope that the occasional new family in town can make a difference is ludicrous. We left 25 years ago and it was the biggest relief to be away from it all. Prejudice hurts not only the blacks but the whites, too, because you have to somehow justify it in your mind that it's ok.
    It's not ok and never was.

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  46. Even more egregious is Sarah Palin's thinly-veiled racism on Fox News. In her most recent appearance she accused President Obama of being "lackadaisical". Previously she accused him of "shucking and jiving", allegedly called him Sambo, and has on more than one occasion described him as lacking "cojones".

    She always addresses him as Obama even though Fox always refer to her as Governor Palin.

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  47. Anonymous, two posts up, makes an excellent point. Until the southern churches are preaching social justice, acceptance, and equality from the pulpit, we will continue to have large swathes of the south populated not only by bigots, but by bigots who think that their beliefs are the norm.

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  48. Going to share some personal stories, it's long so 2 parts: My father was a real estate developer when I was child, and one of his jobs took him (and us) to Louisiana, in 1968. This was 4 years after the Civil Rights Act passed, but of course, 1968 was noted for the civil unrest going on, and things were uneasy to put it extremely mildly. I was a pretty oblivious 6 year old when we moved to the shore of Lake Ponchartrain, while my father’s company built a development called Regency Park. My dad oversaw construction and generally managed the place, as liaison between the residents (condo owners) and the development company, once construction was completed. We moved into one of the units in the early 70's. He likened it to being a building super in the Bronx with an especially restive set of tenants (translation: he didn't enjoy it since he couldn't go anywhere without someone having something to say about their washing machine, their AC, etc., you get the picture). At any rate, Regency Park still exists, and is now described as a gated community.
    At the time it was built, it featured townhouses arranged around squares with tasteful landscaping, with a well-appointed clubhouse/community center, complete with inground pool. The units were all well-appointed and had central air. The residents were mainly educated, professional people. I leave it to your imagination to guess the racial makeup of the place. Per our family's SOP, we kiddos were enrolled in public school. In 1970, I went into 2nd grade, my brother 1st grade, and my younger brother started kindergarten. Hilarity ensued. My mother began to get phone calls from well-meaning concerned neighbors, who all knew that we were northern transplants (from central NY state) and we simply didn't know how things were done. "Mrs. Thomas, you may not be aware of this, but people of a certain social background do not send their children to public school", one helpful neighbor advised my mother. "This family does" was my mother's response, just before she hung up the phone.
    We attended Ray Abrams elementary school, which was then (and still is now) located in a working class section of New Orleans. Before we could actually go, my parents were called in to meet the principal, owing to an irregularity in our records from New York. Our New York state birth certificates did not specify our racial background. Because of this omission, and to show compliance with the civil rights act, the principal (an older white woman) told my parents that they would need to have a doctor examine us and confirm our racial makeup, and until that certification was received, we could not attend class. My father told the principal, "Try to enforce that, and you'll be hit with a civil rights suit so fast it will make your head spin. Look at her mother and me” (they were both descended from Irish immigrants), “what race do you think they are?" Looking back on this, I now wonder if this was not yet another attempt to steer us to private school, where we so clearly “belonged.”

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  49. Part 2: My first day of school, the kids gathered round the new kid as they always do. "You a yankee or a reb?" was the first question I was asked. I puzzled over it for a moment, and offered "I'm an American" as my answer. My accent gave me away just as much as my answer: "You a YANKEE!" -- instant pariah among those working class white kids. I became friends with Petra, a girl whose parents had emigrated from Germany, and who was just as much of a foreigner as I was. It was definitely like being from a different country, since the culture was so different I could no longer understand it. My first grade teacher was an African-American woman, Mrs. Gilmette, who, when she called on us to answer questions, addressed us as "boy" or "girl". No one else seemed to mind, but I was puzzled and troubled why a teacher, who knew my name, did not use it when she called on me. I asked her to please call me by my name when asking me to answer questions. BIG mistake. I was sent to the principal for talking back. I now apologize to her for my lack of cultural understanding: it would have been inappropriately familiar for her (a an African American woman) to address me (a white child) by using my first name. Girl was impersonal, and safer.
    We did have a woman who came once a week to clean, her name was Etta Smith, and she had young boys about our age. That first summer after we moved in, my mother asked Etta to please bring her sons, because they stayed home alone (the oldest was 10 and watched his younger siblings while his mom worked). Etta finally did bring them, and my mother marched the 6 of us up to the center of the development, to the pool. Because of my father’s status as manager of the development, none of the residents dared say a thing to her directly. They just stared as we 3 white kids played round after round of marco polo and other things, with Etta’s 3 African American sons, with the temperature in the 90’s and the humidity well over 70%. Probably after an hour, we 6 kids had the pool all to ourselves. For the rest of the summer, mom insisted that Etta bring them as often as she could. They swam with us, and we eventually enjoyed a private pool, every time. I asked my dad why the pool emptied when we came and swam; my father answered because the neighbors did not want their children swimming in the same pool as black children. “Why?” I asked. In NY at the YMCA pond in Mahopac kids of all colors swam together and no one had a problem with it. My dad answered, honey, because they just don’t. They are under the mistaken impression that they can judge a person’s worth by their skin color, which is nonsense. I now hope that those kids, and Etta, did not pay a price for those swims, but I am glad that we got to enjoy the pool together. I also think my folks got a bit of satisfaction from racists suffering for their own racism. Rather than even make the experiment in tolerance, they went home, taking their kids with them. I’m sure the explanation offered when the children asked why they couldn’t stay and swim too, was because we northerners were ‘ignorant’ and ‘didn’t understand’ that what we were doing was ‘not the way things are done here. To each his own.’ How very, very sad.

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    1. Mary, thank you for this fascinating account.

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  50. Please, if you haven't read the complaint against Paula Deen, her brother, and the Deen family of companies I urge you to do so. Jim posted it above and I'll repost the link here, with Jim's permission.

    Perhaps Jim could allow the defenders of Paula Deen-- those who say she's being "hung" for something she said 30 years ago-- to weigh in on the conduct detailed in the complaint. It could be really interesting to read what her defenders think about these allegations. If you're nostalgic for Plantation Days, you'll love how the Deens were running their businesses.

    Here's the link: http://www.atlawblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Jackson-v.-Deen-et-al.-Complaint.pdf

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    1. Definitely wasn't nostalgic for the good old days, but I sure was taken in by the "Lil ole me?' southern belle media personality. That link sobered me up fast. I suggest anyone scratching their head about this do as Ciejai states. There is a reason why sponsors are dropping her as fast as they can get the legaleese printed up. Duff in NoFla

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    2. Duff, glad you read the complaint. Bubba Hiers sure sounds like a wonderful slavemaster, uh, I mean restaurant manager.

      Paula Deen endorsed and enabled her brother's behavior. And yet, she was nostalgic for an even more retrograde time!

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  51. Jim, thanks for writing this great piece. It will cause me to think deeply and reflect for a very long time. I am ashamed to admit I was raised in Savannah until my 20s. My family was in Savannah for generations. Racial slurs were not said or implied in my family. When I was older and had a family racial slurs were not said or implied.

    When I moved to the Midwest I was glad to be out of Savannah but had never really thought thru or expressed why. Once a person asked why I had decided to leave Savannah. Without even thinking of what I was about to say...I said "Because in Savannah, or in all the South, most white women have "help" in their homes. Because of this no white woman would ever have to admit they had misplaced anything. All she had to do was to blame "the help" of stealing and fire them."

    I saw this happen in the homes of most all of my friends and some of my family.

    I had forgotten such things happened and assumed it was over. Thanks for letting me know so clearly that for many people of the South things are the same.

    I also want to add another Southern attitude and phrase is "high minded"...of course meaning thinking too much of yourself. Within the last 10 years I have become reacquainted with the last of my family who was raised in Savannah. If you have aspirations and hopes or accomplishments for that matter...you are "high-minded."

    I honestly don't want to be around the last of my family anymore. I don't want to be reminded that some how I got away from all that infests the South.

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    1. Your comment high-minded set off bells! I noted when I watched a clip of Rick Perry try to defend his thoughts on teen pregnancy he comes off as “humble” and almost contrite to deliver an opinion. I see this is a dishonest attempt to put himself in a subservient position before answering the question posed. This is typical in the South, people apologize before they opine. It is passive aggressive in the best of circumstances. I used to wonder if it was an invitation for dialogue and then after watching people politely agree with some of the most outrageous comments I decided it is inherently dishonest. Keeping the peace in all situations allows evil to persist unabated. Bonnie, do you think this might be an outgrowth of the "high-minded" phrase you are talking about? Or, given the incredible grip southern churches have on the populace that any opinion outside the church requires “in my humble opinion”?

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    2. There is a completely true and very revealing set of replies when someone calls you "high-minded". Say "Thank you". If a family member goes so far as to explain they mean it as an insult, you can just say that you're not trying to be better than other people, just improving yourself, then drop the topic. It reveals the petty, envious and self-defeating nature of the comment without being nasty. Maybe, just maybe, your family members will think about it in a different light.

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  52. Jim,

    Thank you. You are a certain kind of special for saying this and I mean that sincerely. You are right on the money! It seems I have pulled out the lyrics to that old South Pacific song so many times recently, but that's because they are true and applicable, "You have to be carefully taught to hate." It seems in the guise of civil liberties, states rights, school board decisions or whatever other process one wants to invoke we are allowing this kind of inbred racism to flourish. I'm sorry if that last sentence was a little obtuse but I have so many words and thoughts going around in my head about this very thing, that it's hard for me to express myself and still be succinct. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, "Political dissidence is NOT racism!" Some poor mis-guided, middle class, older white woman was trying to justify her dislike of our President. I could be wrong, because obviously this was a fleeting snapshot that formed my opinion and I had no interaction with this woman whatsoever, but I didn't peg her as your typical political dissident. I pegged her as a certain kind of racist.

    Thanks again for your thoughts!

    -Karen Mary Jensen Gagnier

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  53. I also had some responses Jim, to your insightful blog post when I posted it on my page - that amused me. well sort of.
    and Then I found this article by this lawyer, Daryl K. Washington, that has more details of the alleged incidents that spell it out so clearly, I don't know how Anyone. can come to the defense of Paula Deen's Empire. or make even the slightest excuse.
    ANYONE. ...
    "The Paula Deen Incident; you should know all that's being alleged before defending her"

    http://www.blacklegalissues.com/Article_Details.aspx?artclid=7dfdbe0461

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  54. I hate the 'N' word, and was taught by my parents way back in the early '40s that it was a cruel word and must never be used. I was bewildered by all the furor over Mrs. Deen's "single use of the word 30 years ago" as the hysteric reporting in the press would have you believe. Only in reading the details of the actual lawsuit can you really understand the depth of the racism and sexism which apparently exist within the Deen organization. It is also apparent that Mrs. Deen has long been aware that such activity was inappropriate and downright illegal. The case has yet to go to court and all the allegations proved but Mrs. Deen's 'poor, little, misunderstood me' act is disgusting.

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  55. For some reason, every time something like this comes up, I think of a documentary I watched about the civil rights movement on PBS a few years ago.
    There was one segment covering the integration of schools in either Arkansas or Alabama, where national guard troops were escorting a terrified black girl to the school building through a crowd of the white students.
    The film is of course, black and white and ...grainy, but at one point the makers of he documentary slow it down and focus on the faces of the crowd. Teenage boys and girls, the boys with crew cuts and starched white short sleeved shirts, the girl wearing cotton dresses, looking like bobby soxers from an old Elvis movie..
    There is no sound, but they are all screaming what must be some of the most vile slurs imaginable, their faces contorted with the kind of rage you would expect to see on someone watching the murderer of a loved one escorted through the crowd.....and not some terrified little black girl clutching her books.
    Those people in that southern crowd didn't die off or move to some other country. Most of them are probably still living their lives and working at their various jobs....driving cabs, running banks, being Mayors, hosting cooking shows....
    I started grade school down south here, at about that time, just as integration was being implemented.
    Those people are still here, and deep down, their hate hasn't mellowed one single bit.
    Southern culture my ass.




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    1. Perhaps we should not tar everyone with the same brush. It is unfair to stereotype southerners as haters that have never developed beyond the attitudes of the 60's. To say that all southerners are... is no more fair than to say all blacks are... There are many southerners who do not hate blacks. There are a lot of them that do, but not all.

      The biggest danger we have to be wary of is that we become like those we hate. We dislike people who stereotype and hate blacks, so we stereotype and hate them.

      The white girl who was shown most prominently on the news screaming at the black girl contacted her not too long ago and apologized.

      Jeanne in WV

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    2. "The biggest danger we have to be wary of is that we become like those we hate. We dislike people who stereotype and hate blacks, so we stereotype and hate them."

      I am sorry....but that is not the biggest danger at all, not by a long shot...

      " Well, we elected a black president what more do "they" want?"
      " The real issue of the civil war was "states rights" not slavery, everybody knows that!"
      " The blacks that are here now are lucky to be here and not back in that shithole Africa"!
      " If the blacks are as hard working and smart as others why are more of them in prison?"

      I could write a book of these.......and I didn't hear them back when I was in grade school, I heard them during the last election cycle.

      Ignorance and bigotry are choices, skin color is not.

      If in this day and age, if you are still making the choice to remain ignorant and believe in the vast language of soft bigotry....that is the danger. That we will become so used to the fairy tales, we will go back to ignoring institutional racism.

      I offer a recent Supreme Court abomination as a perfect example.


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  56. I don't get the "I'm old" defense. My father born in 1933. He grew up in the most racist city in our state, a city that was so racist that, when a court ruled that the city parks had to be integrated, the city promptly closed all of its city parks because "the mixing of the races is wrong". When I was young, in the 1960's, he was as racist as you could be without being part of the KKK. Used the N-word regularly, referred to blacks as "porch monkeys", the works. But he changed. Part of that likely was seeing his innocent little children repeating things like that and realizing just how ugly they were. Part of it was society rubbing his nose in the face that his racism was obnoxious, evil, and just plain *wrong* over and over again. And part of it was that he simply wasn't an idiot. He was an asshole, but not a moron. He could see that the black kids that my brother and I befriended were no different from the white kids we ran with. When he had to work with black co-workers, he could see that they were no different from the white co-workers that he had to work with. And combine that with the liberal values that my brother and I brought home from those evil brainwashing Catholic schools (run by Jesuits, even -- eep!), and which we were quite willing to confront him about... by the time he died, he was no saint. Sainthood wasn't part of his basic personality type. But he was no racist either. Because only idiots are racists today, after forty years of civil rights for blacks.

    Which is the true tragedy of Paula Deen -- that someone who is, bluntly, a total idiot, could make it so far in life. Gives the lie to the whole notion that America is a meritocracy, doesn't it? Meanwhile, like Jim, I think Deen honestly doesn't consider herself a racist... she doesn't hate blacks, she doesn't want to kill blacks, she treats blacks with the same kindness she treats small children and kittens. Which is the problem with her kind of racism -- it's the kind of racism where you treat adult human beings as if they were small children or pets just because of their skin color. Hrm.

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  57. Don Young said that??? Funny,living in Alaska for 20 years showed a different sort of prejudice but that isn't the topic here. So I see all sorts of discussions and blog posts online dealing with this issue and yet there is no real solution offered to "cure" the problem. The fact is, there will always be prejudice of some sort or another as long as we base our view of other people on whether they are white, black, fat, skinny, tall, short, and so on.
    We vote for people based on skin color and looks, we dress a certain way based on what is trendy, even though some think the non-conformist look is unique they are really just following a different crowd. What would really be nice is if we just followed the adage of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. Unfortunately too many people don't care about character, integrity, moral virtue, it's whats trendy or viewed as being open minded. So we continue to chase peace and equality based on a false premise, and we end up with the Paula Deans of the world, and those who are ready to skewer her.

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    1. I strongly disagree.

      We don't end up with racism because we have differing views of character, integrity, and morality, nor do we end up with racism because we're open minded. We end up with bigotry because we ignore loutish behavior - sort of how your own congressional representative can openly use a racist epithet and it be in all the papers and news media recently and you still remain oblivious and reward him with reelection. We still have racism because we allow racist behavior, because we make excuses for racism, because we turn a blind eye to racism and because we cry about how poor old Paula Deen is being piled on.

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  58. Racism is learned, it is not the flu, something that one catches and gets over once it has run its course. Whether we want to admit it we all are racist to some extent, while we have never used the N word perhaps I'd say it's a safe bet we have used other impolite and socially unacceptable terms or phrases to describe a specific individual or group. Truth be told most of us are closer to Paula Dean in reality then we'd like to admit. Not to excuse her but human nature is, well human nature.

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    1. I will agree with your premise that we all, to some extent, have certain built-in biases.

      Those biases are perhaps stronger in some than others. Likely they are learned behaviors, but also there is likely some evolutionary mechanism that causes the human mind to automatically fear the other to some greater or lessor degree. Certainly there is a tendency of humans in power to abuse that power. Experiment bears this out, repeatedly.

      The issue here isn't whether or not we, all of us, are "closer to Paula Deen" than we'd like to admit, it's how we as a reasoning, civilized beings deal with that impulse on a day to day basis.

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    2. The key is recognizing your biases. I do not respect members of the far-right and very few, if any, members of the GOP. But that is based on the hate politics of Nixon, Reagan and the scrubs.

      As for "closer to Paula Dean" than we like to admit, we all face temptations... to cheat, steal, to let bigotry control us, etc. The key is not falling into temptations and passing that along to our children.

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  59. don't remember who originally said it, or how exactly it was put, but I still believe it to be the basis of the whole "us vs. them" attitude: We fear what we don't understand, and hate what we fear, because it makes us, well, afraid. And we don't *like* being made to feel uncomfortable, let alone afraid. The not bothering to *try* to understand is the issue that drives me up a wall. Even worse, the being proudly unwilling to try.

    My grandparents on both sides were racists. My parents were not. My brother and I were raised to treat everyone with respect, regardless of their age, color, wealth or social standing. I could tell a number of stories to highlight that, but basically, we grew up seeking out the differences and learning about them. I can't remember ever not being fascinated by anyone I met who was from somewhere else, or had different customs or different ideas. Granted, I don't always agree, but as long as respect is mutual, agreement isn't necessary.

    And yet, I still find myself falling into that generalization trap that makes me stop and think, "did I just really think that?" when some stereotypical thought pops up out of somewhere in my head. I can only imagine how difficult it can be for someone raised to be a bigoted blowhard, but really, at least keep a lid on it out of respect.

    Hm ... Got a little rambling there and now I'm not sure where I was going with all that. But thank you for being so much more articulate than I am! I love reading your posts :)

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  60. Yes, I believe we all have our prejudices, our biases, our fears - if we are honest with ourselves. The trick is to try to identify them, examine them, and sometimes use the brain to fight the gut. And then to teach our children better.

    My parents came from two of the most racist environments I have ever experienced: my dad from Brooklyn, and my mom from rural south central GA. Yet no word of intolerance ever passed their lips as my sisters & I grew up. Could they entirely escape their own upbringing though? No. I can remember them once showing fear in the presence of a group of black people when I was about 7, and almost 50 years later, my head is still telling my gut to ignore that. And that's how hard it is to kill prejudice.

    One of the proudest moments of my life came when my son was in second grade. He had mentioned a friend of his, and I did not recognize the name, so I asked him if I had this child. He didn't know, so he tried to describe him: "He's this tall"; "You're seven, all your friends are that tall"; "He has brown hair"; "OK, that narrows it to three-quarters of your class". And so on. Finally, in total frustration at not being able to distinguish this friend, and searching for a way to describe him, my son sputtered: "He's...he's...BROWN!" My jaw literally did drop open - the very LAST thing my boy could think of to describe his classmate was his skin color! My two simultaneous thoughts were: "I have done at least one thing right as a parent" and "There is hope for this world yet".

    Maybe there is hope- that each generation will see less and less of this shit until it is gone forever. Until then, we encourage our children to use their brains.

    Hoping this makes sense,
    Bruce

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    1. Should say "if I had MET this child.." Geesh

      Bruce

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    2. Your story reminds me of an episode of "SOKO 5113," a German cop show. In it, Franz, a biracial police officer, befriends a little boy whose father came out as gay and left the family to be with his boyfriend. Franz comforts the kid, telling him he realizes it can't be easy, living in a small town where everybody knows who one's parents are. He adds that he knows exactly how the kid feels because he, Franz, also grew up in a small town and was teased about his family situation. The kid stares at him. "Really? You were teased? WHY?" Franz is taken aback because to most people, the reason would be obvious. The fact that he is black and middle-aged and has a Bavarian last name can only mean one thing: his mother was impregnated by an American soldier who didn't marry her. He tells the little boy, "Well, look at me." -- "What's wrong with the way you look?" the kid asks. "Well, nothing, but I'm... brown," Franz replies. The boy still doesn't understand. "So???"

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    3. An aunt told a story about a cousin's child -- he was about six in 1960 when his family moved from Houston, which was still somehow avoiding integrating elementary schools, to Jacksonville, Florida, where his class was integrated. He was telling my aunt about the little girl he liked at school. She asked what color eyes the girl had, and he couldn't remember -- and of course she later found out the girl was African American. To my aunt's credit she thought it was wonderful that he was not conscious of color. But then, she and my father had been raised by a grandmother who insisted that they treat everyone with respect regardless of color. That grandmother grew up in Kosciusko County, MS right after the civil war with a black foster sister, though. Racial prejudice is a tough infection to avoid, and both my aunt and my father were very aware of racist attitudes they picked up from the general culture. But they WERE aware and they DID fight those attitudes, and supported the younger generations in seeing things differently.

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    4. Anon @ 9:04 - You hit the root of the cure with the phrase "were very aware of racist attitudes they picked up from the general culture". Without awareness of our own prejudices, we are not free to act against them, we can only act upon them. And that is a major point of both my story and of Jim's post - being conscious of your own attitudes.

      And that's why Paula Deen's excuse that it was just the culture she grew up in is no good. A child can be forgiven for acting the way he/she is taught, but an adult actually chooses his or her beliefs. She is old enough to know what racism, sexism, and harassment are, yet she chose to allow them to flourish - and even supported them - in her businesses, if these complaints are true.

      Bruce

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  61. What strikes me about Deen, is that, somehow, only blacks in absolute subjection satisfies her. She's rich, she's famous, she's better off than 99% of everyone... And it's not enough. "Enough," for her, is all black people in absolute subjection, so that even the best blacks are still made to bow and scrape below the worst whites. This is the ugly logic of a class system, where the elite must make all others bow. It is this, rather than simple prejudice, that horrifies me. Responses to difference, I suppose, we will always have--but this desire to have a whole group on the bottom, entirely subject to abuse and with no response allowed? It is sick.

    I would carry this analysis very far: out to the institutionalized sexism where, again, every woman is to be made subservient to any man. And, even, to two things that conservatives don't like to think about at all: the subjection of all to the wealthy, and the subjection of nature to humanity.

    We have today (I'd been thinking about this before, but this has come along) Paul Krugman writing about "War on the Unemployed" (it's a link to Mark Thoma's copy--you don't need an NYT account.) Unemployment and poverty in this economy is not a result of incompetence or moral failing: it is a result of policy. (And, yes, there is racism in this: Krugman is writing about North Carolina.) But then consider the legacy of colonialism, with poorer nations subject to wealthier.

    And it has a price: the "subject peoples" do not stay subject. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes of the US Civil War that it was the end of centuries of tragedy: it was just the part where the horrors of slavery began to hurt white people and so Southern racists regard it as tragic, ignoring the horrors that came before

    The subjection of nature? I am haunted by the words of scientist and radical philosopher Gregory Bateson, the radical philosopher, "If this is your estimate of your relation to nature and you have an advanced technology, your likelihood of survival will be that of a snowball in hell. You will die either of the toxic by-products of your own hate, or, simply, of overpopulation and overgrazing. The raw materials of the world are finite."

    It seems, now that we have become so powerful, that we can no longer survive our own hate.

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  62. I grew up outside of Grand Rapids Michigan not too far from Jim's home town. My husband and I ended up in Virginia for twenty years and have lived in Pittsburgh for the last twelve.

    The South (I found) isn't something you can understand from reading about it in a book. It's something you have to absorb. That's my opinion. The South is a big place and many areas probably deserve the contemptible stereotypes they've been painted with. Hell, look at how the Deens treated their female and black staff.

    That said, a lot of the South is 30 or 40 years ahead of the North in terms of real racial reconciliation, understanding, and progress. Yes, you can find the creme de la creme of racism in the South. But you can also find a great deal of sophistication in terms of racial understanding.

    Here's my theory about this. In the South, frequently, the races are far more dispersed throughout the countryside than in the North. As a result there is a certain familiarity between the races that many Northerners do not experience. Due to migration patterns, our black populations were concentrated in certain areas of the central cities up north. Many areas of the South had to confront their history and build a new society alongside their neighbors both white and black. Where I grew up, white suburbanites were free to consider all that somebody else's problem and to delude themselves with the smug certainty that they were free of racism.

    Looking back at my upbringing, it's clear to me that I grew up in a very racist town-- Grand Rapids, Michigan. Pittsburgh is a lot like my home town-- a collection of parochial enclaves in which people can construct their own reality without much real contact with the outside world. I wish I had a buck for every time somebody here has said "I'm not prejudiced, but...." and then goes on to say the most racially ignorant and insensitive thing. No different from a lot of other places I've lived up north. In Virginia, nobody starts a sentence with that phrase.

    I can't remember where I was when I heard a very thoughtful discussion years ago about how to move forward on race relations. The premise was that we all adopt the AA line and say "Hi, my name is ciejai, and I'm a racist." The idea was that we each acknowledge that we have grown up in a racist culture whether we intended to become racists or not. Once you say it and think about it, you can begin as others have pointed out here to deal with it in a constructive manner.

    Some of the comments here really made me think and start to remember things I hadn't thought of in years. We used to get dropped of at the Majestic Theater on weekends and it occurs to me now that black kids sat in the balcony. White kids could sit there too, especially if you wanted to make out, but I don't remember black kids sitting on the main floor. Maybe I was too busy sucking on my Jujubes to notice.

    Mary Stone's recollections were spell-binding. Her parents had a lot of courage that I did not encounter growing up. While we were cosseted in our lily-white suburb in our nearly all-white school, we weren't allowed to say the n-word. My folks probably thought that was enough.

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  63. "Due to migration patterns, our black populations were concentrated in certain areas of the central cities up north."

    No, that's not how it happened. After the end of the Civil War slave refugees spread throughout the USA. Then there was ethnic cleansing. See Loewen, Sundown Towns. See also Coates, The Ghetto is Public Policy.

    But claiming "a lot of the South is 30 or 40 years ahead of the North in terms of real racial reconciliation, understanding, and progress?" Dear gods, no. There may be a few enlightened enclaves. But most of the South...remember when they shot blacks in the aftermath of Katrina. In most of the South, racism is both policy and popular belief. Now, there is hope for the South. But progress is not going to come without strife.

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    1. I chose the words "were concentrated" deliberately. Yes, it was due to policy, implemented both overtly and covertly. No argument there. We, as a country, have a very long way to go. The reaction to Mr Obama's election laid bare an ugly streak in American society and it isn't limited to the South. My point was, forgive me if I didn't get through, is that sitting up north or out west and shaming those ignorant southerners for their racism is a cop-out.

      Yes, I remember the Danziger Bridge shootings in the aftermath of Katrina.

      Tell me, Raven, which southern enclaves-- enlightened or otherwise-- have you lived in?

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    2. "it is simply amazing to watch how Southern states, ruled by Republicans, have moved so quickly, after the Supreme Court’s VRA decision to push through a series of new laws the only aim of which is to limit black voting: voter ID laws, ends to same day registration, early voting, weekend voting."--Josh Marshall, http://editors.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2013/07/takes_your_breath_away_3.php

      One doesn't need to live there to smell the racism. So far there isn't a lot of visible support for your claim of dramatic progress, outstripping the rest of the USA. So far, it looks like, in racial attitudes, the South has caught up with the rest of the USA in the 1950s.

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    3. See, there's the problem. I read the same things you do. I probably have the same opinion of voter suppression that you do. You and I are probably on the exact same wavelength politically.

      But you assert that I'm wrong about the South- even though I lived, worked, traveled, and did business there for 20 years-- and wrong about the migration patterns that led to the segregation of my home town during WWII even though I lived there for twenty-two years. Because you got that impression from a book or an article? Perhaps you missed the part where I said that many parts of the South merit the contemptible stereotypes they've been painted with. But that's not the whole story. There is a different side to the South that doesn't make the headlines.

      My point was and is that white suburbanites as well as people up North and out West are deluding themselves if they think racism is only a Southern problem. Where did people show up at GOP rallies with sock monkeys labeled Barack Obama? Which state was one of the first to pass voter ID in an effort to suppress minority votes? Which state party leader promised his GOP caucus that the voter ID law would guarantee the state went to Romney? I'll give you a hint it wasn't Mississippi.

      So you can sit out there in Washington or wherever and school me about the South. Knock yourself out. I condemn racism. Across the board. I also condemn the smug certainty that racism is only a Southern problem.

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    4. Of course, Pennsylvania did not change its voter ID laws... To say it is only a 'Southern' thing may be just as bigoted, but towards a different label. Maybe we should do away with generic labels?

      Danny

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    5. I'm not sure I follow you, Danny. "Of course, Pennsylvania did not change its voter ID laws..." Huh? The Voter ID bill was signed into law by Tom Corbett in March 2012. I was asked for ID during the primary. A judge temporarily blocked implementation for the general election, but many poll workers still required voters to show ID. The law was passed by the Commonwealth's legislature. It is under court review.

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    6. One more comment and I think I am done on this subject. Black Enterprise Magazine has been rating the best communities for African Americans to live, work, and play in. As of 2007, eight of the top ten communities are in the South.

      http://www.factmonster.com/us/states/top-ten-cities-african-americans.html

      Looking around on the interwebs I found something called the Black Agenda Report which rates the worst communities for African Americans based on racial disparity in incarceration.

      "The states with the fifteen highest disparity rates between black and white incarceration show some interesting characteristics. First, none of them are in the South. Secondly Blacks make up a negligible percentage, 6% or less in ten of these high disparity states. Thirdly, the other five high-disparity states either contain or are adjacent to three of the five largest concentrations of African American population in the US, namely the metro areas of New York, Chicago and Philadelphia."

      http://blackagendareport.com/content/2008s-ten-worst-places-be-black

      Finally, if the entire South is such a rotten place to live, it begs the question: Why are African Americans returning to the South in what has been dubbed the New Great Migration? According to USA Today "This migration is pushing the percentage of the African-American population living in this region, where they have deep roots, to the highest point in 50 years."

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    7. ceijei,

      Sorry, my point was that it was not only southern states that were implementing the voter ID laws. I believe saying that all people of a particular label are a certain way is not applying critical thinking. All Republicans are not homophobic, all Democrats are not in favor of Abortion, all Russian policemen do not take bribes. All people who live in my house, that are named Danny tend to be slight sarcastic, and tend to procrastinate. I would not apply those descriptions to all Dannys in the world.

      Interesting links. Thanks.

      Danny

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    8. Danny, thanks for clearing that up and giving me a laugh at the same time. I'm considering whether I'm a procrastinator, too. I'll think about it and get back to you.

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    9. Mmmmm...I started my remarks with an objection that your comments on the North were not sufficiently critical: segregation outside of the original South was a matter of "ethnic cleansing," (my words) not "concentration" or "migration" (your words.) So how do you get to "My point was and is that white suburbanites as well as people up North and out West are deluding themselves if they think racism is only a Southern problem?" I am not arguing that! Is anyone in this thread?

      It remains true that, in the aftermath of Shelby County, it was Southern states that were quick off the mark in proposing various techniques to keep blacks from voting. It is also true that black refugees from Katrina were shot at Danziger Bridge in New Orleans. There was nothing comparable in New York after Sandy. All the "racial reconciliation, understanding, and progress" you talk about--they haven't stopped that. Maybe in another generation, they will.

      Sometimes one can become blind to a place's faults by knowing and loving it well.

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  64. I find it so important to continue talking and thinking about the just... casual racially divided thinking we continue to live in. I'm not saying we are bad people, that we do this on purpose... but think about how often in daily life, we use skin color to explain who someone is.

    "Did you see that new movie? You know, the movie? With the black guy who goes to the moon?"

    .... did that really help? Was that what the movie was about?

    One of my personal social experiments is to see how long it takes me describing one of my favorite comic strips before people remember it.

    Jump Start.

    ... you know? The dad is a cop, mom is a nurse? They have 4 kids? Their friend is a dentist, has lots of brothers? The dad's partner is this curmudgeon cop with a dog who can text? The oldest kid goes to school with a kid named "doctor?"

    ..... You know... the black family?

    ...OOHH!!!! Now I remember! Yeah, the black family!

    *facepalm*

    Are my friends TRYING to exclude people of color from their thinking? No. But they have unconsciously filed people by shading. Not even people... little line drawings of people.

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    1. Practically all of the Old Souths racism Jim Crow etc was created by laws and customs by LOAL (sic)always straight party voting Democrats
      When the Civil Right Act was pased 23% of the DEms in Congress voted against it.

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    2. .... I'm not sure where you're going with this, is your thesis that liberals are the root cause of racism?

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    3. Come to think of it, I'm not sure why you've annotated "sic" to the term "LOAL" without using a quote... I think you've lost me. :)

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    4. Ignore him, Mr. Tremblay; he's forgetting that the Dixiecrats that passed Jim Crow evolved into the Southern Strategy core of the Republican Party.

      LOAL, amirite? ;)

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    5. People don't understand what it's like to be defined by their race or ethnicity until they are in that situation themselves.

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  65. This pretty well describes big chunks of the (southern Virginia) county I live in. A lot of that wishing for things to be back the way they used to be isn't all that covert, either, and I've heard the "They should be grateful!" argument plenty of times. And the KKK bumper stickers, the restaurant whose kitchen suddenly "closes" when black customers come in, or people yelling "F*** the n*****!" after finding out Obama won on Election Night of 2008. One ironic thing about this, though, is that a lot of this racism isn't coming just from the natives, but also people who move into multimillion dollar houses on the local lake from elsewhere, including New England. I generally prefer people moving into the area to adapt to the area, but definitely not in this case.

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  66. I had not read the official complaint until you provided the link. Wow! Anyone who thinks this is about one thing she said many years ago should read it.

    Both times I have lived in the South, first in Mississippi, now in North Carolina, it has been in college towns. As such, social attitudes were much more enlightened than the surrounding areas. In Mississippi, I started high school soon after integration. For the most part, the kids were just fine with it. It was the adults that caused problems. Again, I emphasize this was a college town. I see the same today, where our kids (oldest is 30) are much more accepting than most people of my generation. I like to think we had a hand in encouraging that as they were growing up. We certainly tried. It seems many of their peers are the similar which gives me hope for more tolerance and inclusiveness in the future.

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  67. I believe there IS hope for anyone born and raised when segregation was still alive and well. My own 75-year-old dad has made a 180 degree shift from his previous world view.

    When I was growing up, he was dismayed that our next door neighbors were African-American and the family across the street was Hispanic. I'll say this for him, though - he never made a comment to me about my playing with the kids, and he was friendly with both families. We were like a little Rainbow Coalition poster - one Irish-American girl, and the two boys from these families. But the racism was there, lurking ever so quietly. As I got older, I started to recognize it in subtle little comments. The final, inescapable proof was when, after meeting my boyfriend whose last name was Reyes, he asked me why I couldn't date someone of my "own background." I went back to my apartment after that comment, and it took two years before I spoke to him again.

    Flash forward twenty years - Dad is now a raging liberal. I have NO idea how this happened, but the man actually campaigned for Obama and STILL has the campaign sign in his front yard, as well as the sign promoting the city-funded program for Pre-K for lower income families. He has even gone to events at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and chastises others for not embracing diversity.

    Maybe the Body Snatchers were involved. I don't know, but it has allowed us to finally have a genuine father-daughter bond.

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    1. Just out of curiosity: is your dad a Spurs fan? I've seen a few racist elderly people come around because they realized that it makes no sense to worship David Robinson and/or Tim Duncan and despise black people on principle at the same time.

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  68. I just wanted to say that, while the articles on this site are always thought provoking and wildly entertaining, it really is the comment section that keeps me coming back. The comments read like a long thought provoking conversation between peers of many different backgrounds. Sure there are people who post agrily and disagree, but instead of those voices being flamed into oblivion, they are corrected intelligently and succinctly. Considering the state of most online communities, or god forbid, comments on CNN articles, it is nice to know there are people like this in the world. Just had to say that I read almost every article Jim writes and almost every comment, and I learn something new and enlightening every time. I also get many good laughs, I love it.

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    1. What a nice thing to say. I feel the same way!

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    2. It's one of the primary reasons that I'm the way I am about comments. Behave. Be an adult. Be reasonable. Don't be dense. Don't be a dick.

      I want quality, not quantity.

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  69. I'm in Deen's age group, and I'm black and was reared under segregation. My parents banished the word n*gger from our house and all derogatory terms used to describe others. It was the best thing they could have ever done because it allowed me to grow up and view people as individuals, not monolithic groups in which every member should be held responsible for the actions of one or a few persons. What irks me about some of Deen's supporters is their idea that if they hear one black person call another black person a "n*ggah," it's okay for them to use the term. I also get a bit angry when I hear them excuse Deen's behavior by saying that it's because of her age. Neither of these absolve her or having said/done the things she said/did. I don't condone anyone using the word, not even black persons. The word is still offensive to me and others like myself who still remember living under segregation and Jim Crow laws and witnessing our parents being disrespected by those who weren't even good enough to hold their wallets/purses, simply because they were white and could get away with it without paying any costs. This is primarily why Deen took no action to intervene in stopping the things that were happening in her restaurant. Her mindset. The difference between the 1960s and today is that Lisa Jackson had the guts to expose Deen and associates' attitudes and practices toward her and the other employees at Bubba's restaurant. Deen never expected that the things she said/did would ever see the light of day. What she is most concerned about is not her words/actions, but that the public now knows what/who she, her relatives, and her corporate employees are.

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  70. There will always be racism, sexism and all the other isms. People need to put down other people to feel good about themselves, to feel secure that their beliefs are correct. Hating people who are different is the easiest way to do that; that difference is a threat. It's human nature and it's never going to go away. Complain all you want.

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    1. I suspect that when the words "...in order to form a more perfect Union..." were written, there was a guy just like you standing in the back of the room rolling his eyes and saying, no no no there's nothing can be done!

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  71. Penned by a fellow who lives in Alaska ... figures...

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    1. Please be more specific, how does it figure that I'm from Alaska?

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  72. I predict that Paula will have a cooking show produced by Oprah.

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  73. I'm a public preschool teacher; one of the reasons I chose this particular job is that I see it as an opportunity to foster an appreciation for diversity in my students. I believe that humans have a tendency to think "tribally" -- that is, we are most comfortable with those of our own tribe, and we absorb the characteristics of our tribe -- the customs, the attitudes, the sights, smells, textures, sounds -- in the first six years of life. If, during those early years, we are exposed to cultural diversity in a positive and supported way, we will expand our (unconscious) tribal identity to include that diversity. Of course, it's possible to embrace "the other" in later years, but it involves to some extent an act of will, and a willingness to move out of our own comfort zone. Much easier to change humanity by starting with the little ones...

    Margaret

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  74. It is probably true that there will always be racism, sexism and all the other isms. There will always be people who hate other people. But, and this but is important, I don't have to stand for it. I can raise my children to accept and love the diversity in the world and I can vote against those people who tolerate hatred.

    Thank you Jim for speaking out and for helping those who agree with you find the words to speak out also.

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  75. I'd like to share a story that demonstrates what it means to be truly non-racist.

    When I was a child, between the ages of 5 and 13, I lived in East Africa, where my father taught in a fairly awful secondary education system. My family (mother, father, sister, brother and me) had an idyllic "post-colonial" lifestyle and lived in a big house with lots of land and a servants' quarters built a few hundred feet from the house. We had a 'house-boy', a 'shamba-boy' (gardener) and an "aiya" (a kind of nanny-cum-baby-sitter). The 'house-boy' and 'shamba-boy' were both adults and it is only recently that I have come to appreciate the significance of the term 'boy' in that situation.

    Anyway, the point of the story is that when we returned to Britain for a brief vacation after being in Africa for 2 years, my young brother, who was only 4 years old, was asked by a neighbor what it was like living with "nig-nogs'. My brother looked puzzled and didn't answer, so the question was rephrased. "What's it like living with black people?"

    My brother's answer was as priceless as it was innocent: "What's a black person"?

    When society becomes as blind to colour as was my brother, only then will racism be truly vanquished.

    Of course, it just ain't gonna happen.

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  76. I am from TN. The phrase "showing your ass" does not mean " uppity" to me. I have told my children that because they were, in fact, misbehaving. I abhor the word she used but I also abhor songs that call women " ho's" and speak of various sexual acts. If we only lived in a perfect world...
    Until then I teach my children by example. I do not support the things I find offensive but I live in a glass house so until I am perfect I won't judge anyone I don't know. That being said, I do not have to support them either.

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  77. I was born in the deep South in the 1950s. My life was shaped by a black woman who was a major part of my life from the time I was 7 until I entered high school. I had too much respect for her to ever call or refer to any Black person by the n-word. To me, to use that word would be insulting her. But I heard that word often growing up. Now I never hear it... even my family no longer uses it in my presence. Part of it may be that I was willing to speak out against the use of the n-word in my presence. Or maybe they grew up.

    I respect Ms. Jackson for speaking out on the Dean family. It is not just bigotry - the Dean family has absolutely NO RESPECT for anyone.

    As for the idiots of the far right ........ if slavery is such a great thing, then maybe they should become slaves. I hope this revisionist history of slavery gets what it deserves - a quick flushing. But the far right does have this thing with owning stuff - like their wives and women in general. Several years ago, a member of the Sons of the Confederacy put out the story that Black men flocked to serve in the Confederate Army. It actually garnered some support until reality set in. In the 1860s in the South did anyone actually believe that white men would actually give loaded weapons to black men???

    Great piece. Jim. wish more would read it.



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  78. I really never have understood her popularity to begin with....omg! that awful accent!

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