Monday, June 24, 2013

Into the Fray

So, um, Paula Deen.  Yeah.

I read this article.  And then I read an article about the on-stage interview she gave in the fall of 2012 in which she claimed that slaves were "like" family and then called out one of her employees to demonstrate to the audience that he was so dark skinned he would be invisible against the black backdrop of the stage. 

Now, I will admit, I didn't like Ms Deen anyway.  She represents a stereotype of southern woman hood that I just can't stomach.  She's loud, and uncouth, and seems to revel in being ignorant.  (Remember that just terrible country-bumpkin-gone-to-town special of her and her husband gaping their way through London?) 

When I read the NPR article, I thought that the most generous interpretation was that she really is dumb and clueless.  Sadly, I think that it probably more a matter of she's dumb and simply doesn't much care about the "little people." 

I think much attention has been given to the tangible evidence of her racism . . . the 40 plus year old admitting to using the "n word."  But, if you read more, you see that racism is deeply ingrained in her belief system.  And, that she doesn't much care to address this in herself.  That offense is someone else's problem.

But more problematic than the overt or more subtle racism is the sexual harassment side of the law suit.  Sexual harassment is based on the interpretation of the victim, not the intent of the perpetrator.

Addressing that side of the law suit, Paula seems to have totally bought into the idea that men are incapable of controlling their animal instincts and that women must simply learn to accommodate this weakness in the men they work for/with/around.

Here's the thing . . . Paula Deen is a functioning, competent adult.  As such, she has the very basic, human responsibility to be aware of how her actions are interpreted by the people around her.  She has the responsibility, as a person, to not cause harm intentionally or accidentally.  And, when harm is discovered, apologize and offend no more.  Because she's human . . . not because she's going to lose her job hawking Smithfield hams.

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