OPINION: Controversy over Paula Deen is black and white

By Zack Orsborn,
As more and more companies drop Paula Deen like hot biscuits right out the oven, white backlash continues to engulf social media outlets, speaking out against the now 11 companies for the “wrong” they have done.

Welcome to a time where racist jokes are normalized and immediately shrugged off because they can be. And as soon as someone starts taking a stand against racist acts, like Food Network dropping Paula Deen, white people dig out their pitchforks and pretend to be experts on racial matters.

As more and more companies drop Paula Deen like hot biscuits right out the oven, white backlash continues to engulf social media outlets, speaking out against the now 11 companies for the “wrong” they have done.

But let’s look at what’s really wrong.

Paula Deen, a successful white person, reinforced the idea that it was just dandy to throw around “jokes” about people of color. Giving the excuse that she lived during segregation, you would think she would understand that discrimination and slavery are no laughing matter.

Like Paula Deen, I’ve lived in the South my whole life, and I’m no stranger to hearing the “n-word” being thrown about, laced with animosity and impertinence. When that word leaves the tongues of some Southern people, you can see it in their eyes that they couldn't care less that black people are actually people who cannot do anything about their systematic oppression.

But white people can say things like that because they are simply white. While many think racism is dead, it still exists through institutions and people like Paula Deen, who degraded a group of people by thinking it would be “lovely” to place them in slave positions. It’s funny, right? Hilarious. That has to be great for the self-esteem of black people.

Instead of arguing against the wrong done against people of color, people argue to continue this system of normalized racism.

¬Like this argument for example:

Yes. And they can. For decades, that word was used against them, and they have a right to reclaim it to use it as their own. Believe me, white people using that word is extremely more offensive than a black person saying something that has been spat in their face for years. I think you’ll be okay when Kanye West peppers his verses with the “n-word.” That’s not your word to say.

And this:

Here’s the thing. Thinking badly of another race is different from institutionalized racism, which is what actually matters. White people inevitably hold the most power and privilege in America, making it nearly impossible to be discriminated against. They will never experience what it means to get followed around in a grocery store. Or to miss out on a housing opportunity. Or to have the worst schooling. Or to be apart of the largest percentage of people to be incarcerated.

Here’s another:

Is it really that hard to not hate? Is it that hard to not want to offend someone? Instead of moping because you think are being attacked, recognize your privilege and understand who is really being attacked. Political correctness exists for a reason: human beings have feelings. I’m sorry you are secure in your nice, white skin.

I recognize that Paula Deen has not always been a successful cooking guru. She has not always held a powerful position in the public eye or had the money to support her children. Which means she should sympathize for people struggling, and let’s face, people of color have had the greatest struggle.

I couldn’t feel sorry for Deen’s teary apology on The Today Show. I couldn’t find any empathy as she made herself to be the victim while people of color have been victims of society for over 300 years. Some white people refuse to believe they are in the wrong because it’s socially accepted that white people are always right.

Images: Paula Deen Twitter and Tumblr

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