Celebrity chef Paula Deen made the headlines last week due to a lawsuit claiming that she uses the N-word and other racial slurs on a regular basis. The plaintiff, Lisa Jackson, a former manager at one of Deen’s restaurants in Savannah, Ga., heads the $1.2 million defamation lawsuit. According to a FOX News article, Jackson made claims that Deen and her brother used the N-word several times, made racial jokes and used racial slurs against Jackson around the restaurant.
Deen admitted to using racial slurs openly, and in response, the Food Network decided to not renew any of her shows for July. According to the Chicago Tribune, Smithfield Foods, a major distributor of pork, also dropped Deen from their endorsements.
Social media erupted on Deen’s Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as the Food Network’s official Facebook page, prompting Deen to broadcast an apology via Youtube.
Paula Deen was born in Georgia during the '40s to a devoutly Baptist family. This was a time when the Jim Crow Laws and segregation continued to affect the country. Deen’s vocabulary of derogatory terms was common when she was a child, and with her deep southern roots, it is completely understandable for her to slip up once in a while.
Although this information provides a rational explanation for her language, does it forgive what she has done?
Despite her background, the public should not completely pardon Deen’s actions. Like all humans who make mistakes, she should suffer the consequences for her actions.
If a person accidently hits another car, they have pay for the damage of the accident, regardless of intent. Deen is no different, and will likely have to pay for her mistake as well.
Many claim that African-Americans use the N-word with one another in everyday conversation. This is a fact, but at the same time, not all African-Americans find this practice acceptable. A select population that utilizes the n-word in conversation does not represent the whole population of African-Americans, and therefore, this cannot be used as an argument to support Deen's actions.
This type of situation is very difficult to make a judgment call on. Though some customs from the past fit with today’s society, this one does not. Paula Deen is probably not a horrible person — nonetheless, there are consequences for these types of actions.
I feel that once all of the hysteria blows over, Paula Deen will be back on television with her overly buttery, heart attack inducing meals (that column for another time).