Firstly, I’d like to say that this is how I should have vented about Paula Deen in the first place. I swore I wasn’t going to get involved in politics on Facebook, and I did and all it did was frustrate me to the point of not wanting to be on Facebook or even be my normal fight the good fight self. I just can’t comprehend how people do not understand that racism is rampant in the United States, nor can I understand how people can condone that racism, specifically in a public figure who is known for a warm personality.
But let’s leave Paula Deen out of this for a minute.
You have to admit when people are in an uproar over this commercial:
there is something really wrong. And when the maker of Cheerios has to disable the comments because of racist remarks, there’s a problem. This country has many biracial and multiracial families and this commercial is representative of our melting pot that we are supposedly so proud of. Of course, that’s only if the melting pot is German, Irish, Italian, you know, white. Start putting a little spice in that fondue and the racists get all wiggy and start to grumble.
Add to that and the excuses being made for these racist assholes and you have a bomb ready to go off.
And then, there’s this:
Granted, we liberals said something similar about Bush, but it had nothing to do with race. It had to do with the fact that he’s an idiot.
Our President is biracial and it’s perfectly acceptable to continually call into question whether he was born here or not. This is not because people really think he was not born here, it’s racist assholes being pissed about a black man of any sort being our President. And sadly, there are people out there that not only think that this is not racist, but that the promotion of this shit is not racist either. I am not saying that if you didn’t vote for Obama you are racist, that’s ridiculous. I am saying that Obama’s election, an event that should be celebrated (not because of Obama himself but because a biracial man got elected), has been tainted by the fact that for some reason this has opened a flood gate for people who if not racist, are at the least, misinformed. And to be fair, voting for Obama just because he’s biracial is just as racist if you get right down to it.
Again, people forget the history. Which is really continuing on into the present. But let’s look at some of that history and put it into context.
A lot of people throughout history have held slaves. The Egyptians, the Romans, the Greeks, all of whom we base some of our political systems upon. The Dutch, from whom we got most of our slaves, ended slavery in 1814, although they didn’t seem to think selling human beings was a bad thing. Slavery didn’t end in Great Britain until 1833, Russia in 1783, and we know when ours was ended. We are not the only people to have used forced labor. The difference is that our slavery was based upon a color, or race if you prefer. The Greeks and Romans enslaved their own people, Mediterranean people, African people, Celts, and whatever they could get their hands on. And those people, as could most slaves throughout history, were more like our indentured servants, and could work their way out of that slavery. Never easy, not always accomplished, but still a possibility.
Our slave system was based on race. There were not Irish slaves. No Asian slaves (notwithstanding the horrible conditions the Asians suffered on the west coast), although there were quite a few Native-American slaves as well, although they were not considered as valuable as the African slaves. We bred people to be slaves, to give us a free labor force, but more significantly, a force that cold be raped, beaten, and murdered on a whim.
Sure, we all know this, right? What’s this have to do with anything? It’s history, right? None of that matters now because it’s in the past.
If I hear this one more time I’m going to puke.
One of the biggest problems with the US is that we make every excuse in the world. We cannot accept responsibility for the things we’ve done, will do, or are doing. Always, always some excuse. My brother once told me that I take too much responsibility, but I’d rather do that than be like most people who either bury their head so far in the sand they’re puking pyramids or are just so oblivious that they perpetuate a problem without knowing about it or caring.
So, why does history matter so much?
Partially because of it making up who we are. I always find it funny when people evoke the founding fathers to prove that they were conservative, then say that history doesn’t matter. They weren’t in the context of the time, but that’s another point. Our history is made up of fucking horrible shit. Slavery. Genocide. Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Civil War. The Trail of Tears. Japanese Internment. McCarthyism.
Hmmm. Look at that list. Every single one of them involves either race or limiting freedoms, with the exception of the bombs. Yep, in the land of the free, if you’re white, rich, and male, for the most part.
At some point we have to say, what the fuck? But people don’t. They continually say stupid shit like:
That was another time.
What’s that got to do with me, I didn’t have slaves.
I’m not racist, but I don’t want those thugs in my neighborhood.
OK. Continue to lie to yourself. Everybody else does, which is why things will never get better.
A few moments in our history since 1900 regarding race.
Yeah, that last one is from this year. And people will continue to say, well that’s not racism. But, it is.
Getting back to Paula Deen, I’d like to go through a few steps with her. I’d like to point out that I liked her, a lot, before all of this. I don’t hate her but I do think she’s a racist.
First off, let’s talk about the word and what she herself has done. In no way is it ever ok for a white person to use that word. Ever. I don’t see what the controversy is over that. And the excuse, yet another one, that “they” (see how that is, that construction of the other, calling blacks “they” rather than saying some people) use it is stupid. Let me give you two examples of how stupid in simpler terms.
I am fat. I know I’m fat. But if other people, especially people who don’t know me and my struggles with food call me fat, I go ballistic. It pisses me off. I want to punch them. And this is about being fat, certainly not being considered sub-human by many people in this country. Don’t lie. We all know people who consider women, blacks, Mexicans. and other minorities as somehow less than them.
Another example, or maybe just a point to be made, is that circular reasoning such as “they” say it so why can’t I is kind of like saying Johnnie’s parents let him drive the car without a driver’s license so why can’t I.
Again it’s about personal responsibility. Do you really want to make that argument? It’s petulant, childish, and really just an….well, you get it.
I will say, had this only been an aberration 15 years ago, I could let it go. People do make mistakes, and she’s entitled. If it were a one time event. Apparently, those who are supporting her either don’t care that she’s getting sued, as is her brother Bubba, for continuing this behavior, for hiring light skinned blacks for the front of the house and relegating dark-skinned blacks to the back of the house. That she wanted tap dancing, middle-aged black men to serve at her brother’s wedding. That she continually called one of her employees “the little monkey”. And that the two of them are being sued not by a black person, but a white woman.
What does all of this mean? I’d love to call it all ignorance, but aside from the making of excuses, it’s much deeper than that. Since Obama has been elected a lot of racism has reared its ugly head. And somehow, perhaps with the advent of social media, it’s become ok. It’s not ok. Just as it isn’t ok to say a rape is the woman’s fault. Or that Asians are exotic. Or that Mexicans are all illegal. Or that all Jews should be exterminated.
If when reading this I make you angry, you should think about that for a minute. Why? Why are you angry at reading why you shouldn’t ever use racist language or make excuses for a woman who has? I’m not angry at you for defending her, but I am saddened by how many of you don’t get it.
And for the record, I don’t think the word should be used by anyone. It’s a huge misunderstanding of both the context and the history when people use it. Makes them sound ignorant and stupid about their own history. It is, however, unlikely that the complete annihilation of the word will happen. And while I don’t think it should be used, I’ m not for censorship, either. It should stay in Huckleberry Finn purely for the fact if we continue to clean up our books and writings (and even gangster rap, if you get right down to it) then we do get to this point. Where we forget. Forget that the Civil Rights movement happened only 50 years ago. Forget that some people are still fighting. Forget that some people are vile just because.
Paula Deen is not a hero and she is probably not really a villain either. What she is is a public figure who fucked up royally and is now trying to cover her ass. I genuinely hope that this is all some crap drug up by a disgruntled employee just for the fact that she had to have been doing this for years and people let her get away with it for such a long time if it’s all true. And that is frightening. Because that means we really haven’t learned from any of our mistakes.