It's easy to do. Skepticism aside, you just decide that the crap you heard when you were a kid was wrong. You decide that the bitter lady across the street was wrong. You decide the local Archie Bunker was wrong. One day you realize the teacher you had years ago who, so matter of factly, discriminated against the minority student in your class (thinking they were just being kind) was an idiot. You remember back in the day, when your father's boss spewed a lot wicked, racist crap; and you shake your head in wonderment that what he said was common every day language and attitudes of the time.
You come to realize the "N-word" doesn't describe the target as much as it describes the person who uses it. You look around your life and realize that bigoted people say bigoted things and you no longer believe in bigotry. You mark a mile stone when you squirm inside when you hear and see racism. You' mark another when you speak up when you hear or see racism.
It really is that simple.
You decide racism is wrong; and change what you say and do accordingly.
You make a conscious decision to not be a racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic jerk. You then look around and see treating people differently based upon "appearance" based labeling is wrong. Somewhere, you come to realize that belittling and marginalizing people simply due to their appearance makes no sense at all.
Ok, some of us had parents that were more enlightened than their peers and my parents surely fit that mold. Neither of my parents were overt racists, but they did have racial ignorance and that can be just as bad as overt racism. They took pains to correct any overt racist attitudes they saw in their children, but they didn't correct what they didn't see. Yes, I was admonished and nurtured to be tolerant and open minded, but they were also products of their 1940's youth. Mixed racial messages were the norm of the 60's and 70's and I tried to assimilate them the best I could. I chose to discard racism.
I thought I was doing well until a friend pointed out that my simple assumptions on many things were a product of racial and ethnic bias. They clearly pointed out how I use and rely on white privilege. The idea that I was still a racist deflated my balloon; but once you commit, you can't quit. It's a daily choice. One day at a time, I consciously rid myself of the bad training I heard daily when I was a kid. I dispose of it every time I see it and ask people to point it out to me when I don't. Can I screw up? Yep, I'm a work in progress. Am I still a racist? Less so every day and I'm sure there will be a comment or two pointing out how this entire post is racist or smugly white privileged. It probably is. I am white. I was raised in a small town that was 95% white and have a lot of racist bullshit to ditch. The point is I'm working on it and Paula Deen is clueless about how pervasive racism is.
Paula Deen didn't lose her job because she used the "N-word". She lost her job because of how she defined herself in using it. “Yes, of course,” Deen admitted to using the racial slur during her deposition. Like the N-word is just an every day word. Her insensitivity could hardly have been more apparent. I don't buy this "cultural difference" business. She knows better. She's seen that the bigotry she was raised with is wrong. Of Course! You don't use the N-word! It's hurts people's feelings! It's wrong! It doesn't do anything other than create bad mojo.
When Paula Deen thought it would be cool to have an all black wait staff dressed up as slaves [face palm]; her insensitivity was flipping unbelievable to me. How Paula Deen did not realize that celebrating slavery would be received speaks volumes about her ethnic tone deafness. Assuming all white people would see that visual as romantic is absurd and it totally dismissed any other perspective (ethnic or otherwise). The fact that she had no empathy or ability to look at her presentation from another point of view shrieked not only ignorance but de facto racism. Something she is unable to recognize in herself.
Why she didn't settle this case before the deposition is beyond me. You'd think her lawyer would have realized she would depose badly and advise her to settle, but again, it tells you who Paula Deen is. She doesn't see that she's done anything to apologize for. You can see it plain as day in her YouTube apologies. She didn't internalize her life's lessons that racism is wrong. Cultural Difference doesn't cut it. She doesn't think about racism. She doesn't see it. She denies her racism and she apparently doesn't understand why racism is wrong. Maybe, Paula Deen will turn around and really see racism for the malevolent force it is and change.
It's her choice and high time she makes it.