Dear Tell All: I'm troubled by how quickly celebrity chef Paula Deen was shunned following revelations that she'd used the "N-word" in private. Deen has been pilloried in the press, dropped from the Food Network, and fired by sponsors.
I don't want to come off as if I'm defending a racist. If Deen discriminated against people or publicly espoused hateful views, I'd be the first one calling for her head. It's true that a former employee is suing her for sexual and racial harassment, but she has not been found guilty. So why are we treating her as if she is?
The trouble comes from a deposition in which Deen admits to using the N-word "a long time ago." But she has apologized for that, and insists that she harbors no racist views. In an interview on the Today show, she said, "If there's anyone out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me."
I admit to having strong personal feelings about this issue. The older generation in my family occasionally used the N-word when I was growing up, and a few of them still use it today. But you have to believe me when I say they have no hate in their hearts. It's just a bad habit picked up in another age.
Southern Cooking Fan
Dear Fan: I regret having to speak ill of your family members, but if they use the N-word, they do have hate in their hearts. Anyone who refers to people of color that way regards an entire group as worthy of contempt. Do I even need to point out how problematic that is in a country where slavery was legal for way too long? And where discrimination was legal even a hundred years after that?
Myself, I'm impressed by how quickly Paula Deen was shunned. When an American celebrity uses the N-word, it's time to usher her off the public stage.
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