That dreaded N-word. It’s ugly to hear coming from the mouth of someone who isn’t black. In fact, once the vile word is spewed, it’s almost as if your head’s guaranteed a slice through the career guillotine. Look at what happened to Kramer.
It was shocking to hear that Paula Deen, the woman who is as sweet as sweet tea, became the hot topic subject for her less than eloquent vernacular, and for her idea of a southern plantation-themed wedding with black waiters (cough slaves cough). But once the dust had settled and nearly all her partners left her career for dead, this writer didn’t feel as if justice for the black community was served. In fact, what I felt was confusion…even pity.
The context in which the N-word was used may never be known, and at sixty-six years old, it’s not uncommon to forget when you’ve used the word or to keep track of anything you do. But in that sentiment of foul language and behavior, a large bull’s eye looms over the head of the southern chef, despite the fact that other celebrities have done the same, if not worse.
In the midst of rape allegations, Kobe Bryant lost two major endorsements in 2003, but clinched onto the almighty Nike sponsorship. While Nike could have easily snipped the line when the case closed, ultimately branding Bryant as a cheater, they stayed quiet when the basketball player called a referee, a f***** in 2011. The road to redemption was costly – a $100,000 worth redemption, in fact. And after reaching out on television and social media, Bryant stayed on top as one of the most celebrated basketball players of all time.
Chris Brown, famous for not only his music, but also the domestic abuse case involving then girlfriend Rihanna, got a mere slap on the wrist. No jail time was served other than community service. He released an apology nationwide and after a quick hiatus away from music, he came back swinging with a new album. Fans, especially women, made it known that they forgave him by making Grafitti number 7 on the Billboard 200. Brown is also known for his homophobic slurs, slinging the F-word at Frank Ocean – who’s openly gay – and inferring that Drake is a homo.
If domestic abuse, infidelity, and homophobic slurs can’t destroy the careers of a basketball player and an R&B singer, why exactly did the N-word and the idea of an Antebellum-era styled wedding push Deen off the map? The answer may be in her skin color.
Whites – the original oppressor of the United States. Nobody has really forgiven them for slavery and taking over Native American land. As we fast forward through time and land ourselves in the 21st century, the Georgia cowgirl is the modern day oppressor. She doesn’t realize that enjoying the professionalism of Black waiters in a southern plantation is the underlying feel of white privilege, or not knowing what it’s like to be on the opposite side of the era. She, like many other white folk, simply just don’t understand how the N-word, specifically coming from her mouth, cuts deep. So when push came to shove, and companies had to decide whether they wanted to keep white-as-snow Paula Deen on their side or keep the black community….companies of course went for the latter.
Deposition aside, how fatal do her words cut, and how are they not worse than Bryant and Brown? This is where the sword swung at her twice. Where Paula Deen can’t triumph in controversies because of her skin color, Bryant and Brown can relish in theirs and much more.
Men have always been seen as sexual predators, always lurking for new booty to smash, and Bryant being a popular, touring basketball player, it was simply apart of the road life to be sleeping around. Brown on the other hand had a free media spin that inspired sympathy. According to news sites, Brown has had a history of domestic abuse in the family. Can we face palm now? Geez, no wonder he beat the living daylights out of Rihanna!
But is what they did in the past excusable? Certainly not, however their careers continue to flourish.
Let’s come back to Deen in an incident where she used the N-word… which just so happened to be when a black robber held her at gun point. We’re giving her a penalty because of something she may have screamed in anger?
Now that the television has had their fill of Paula Deen, the question remains, can she learn from her mistakes? Can she vindicate herself from her statements and grow out of her ignorance? African Americans nationwide deserve an apology and she’s done that. Her former fans may have even given her a brief history lesson and explained their feelings to her – I’m not sure, but Paula Deen has apologized and I feel like she meant it. Cutting her from Food Network, Home Depot, Target, Walmart, Sears, and QVC is a bit of an overkill.
If what Paula Deen speaks is true (“I is what I is!”) then she’s not the racist we all perceive her to be. She is white and ignorant, fully blinded by white privilege and one-sided history lessons. She can learn from her mistakes just as other celebrities who have made the same mistakes have. What Deen needs to do now is take time off from television and educate herself.
C’mon ya’ll. Do you really think Paula Deen is going to draw out a whip and crack it over people’s backs? Let’s not.Tags: Chris Brown, Kobe Bryant, paula deen, racism