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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.

Originally posted to JDWolverton on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 10:57 AM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for Diversity (24+ / 0-)

    It's the right choice.

    If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never has and never will be. Thomas Jefferson

    by JDWolverton on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 10:57:39 AM PDT

  •  Herein lies the difference between Rs & Ds (6+ / 0-)

    A liberal, when confronted with new information, changes his/her thinking. A conservative doubles down on what he "believes".

    Liberals, when realizing they have some kind of racial bias, exams it and changes it. Conservatives do not do this.

    O great creator of being grant us one more hour to perform our art and perfect our lives. ::: Jim Morrison :::

    by Kevanlove on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 11:11:27 AM PDT

    •  I'd love to believe this were true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JDWolverton

      but there are some on the left who are in denial about this too. They also refuse to listen.

      Hell, I'm blind to a lot of it, but am trying to get better.

      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

      by RockyMtnLib on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 01:35:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Like I said, there is the difference. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JDWolverton

        Trying to get better. They don't try to get better because they already think they are right.

        O great creator of being grant us one more hour to perform our art and perfect our lives. ::: Jim Morrison :::

        by Kevanlove on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 09:00:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can say confidently with you that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JDWolverton

          libs are on the whole better at it than cons - by miles. Still, there are too many on left of center, and even left of that, who are in denial about how big of an issue racism still is. I witnessed it within just the last hour.

          liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

          by RockyMtnLib on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 12:12:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It's like being born alcoholic. (7+ / 0-)

    If you're born into a power structure in which specific inherent aspects of your identity confer privilege - skin color, gender, gender preference, whatever - then you have to first make it to the point where you can see the reality.  And then you spend the rest of your life, one day at a time, trying to remember to adjust your societally imposed filters so that you don't simply 'go along with' the sexism, the racism, the heterosexism.

    And you fail a lot, because you're fighting against a society that reinforces those inappropriate at every turn.  Virtually every movie, every book, hell, even the way our language is constructed reinforces the notion that things like gender are important in every context, that we have to code people by their gender identity, even if we're talking about visiting an aquarium or filling out tax forms.  He did this, she did that.

    Yeah, it's easy to say 'I'm not a racist', but really all that means is you don't want to be one, and you're (hopefully) willing to fight against being one every day, to listen when PoC assert that there's a problem with a given viewpoint and give serious consideration to the notion that it might just be those racial filters creeping in on you again.

    Hi, I'm Erich, and I'm a 'recovering __ist.'

    But I won't be free of all those isms til I die.

  •  I got misunderstood recently (5+ / 0-)

    I was driving, my wife was in the front passenger seat, and our friend, a librarian at the central downtown library, was in the back seat.  I had the windows open, which of course makes it harder to hear.  

    I said, "I was going to walk to the library during lunch hour a few days ago, maybe say hello to you, but the sky was really black and I was scared so I turned back."

    She heard it as "this guy was really black" and was rather shocked and upset at what she thought was my racism.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 11:31:30 AM PDT

  •  just another ReThug nopology (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDWolverton

    Deen's "apology" was nothing of the kind.  It was some combination of excuse and self-justification

  •  Same age (7+ / 0-)

    Paula Deen is one yr older than I am  I was raised on the West Coast so my take of the civil rights era was through television and newspapers along with what was discussed at school. We still had separate water fountains,bathrooms, school and housing segregation, restaurants and entrances to public places for what was termed colored only.  I remember the only black girl in my high school that entered in my junior year and the lecture we were given as a student body as to her anticipated enrollment. I remember the slurs and upset parents when she arrived. I still have the school paper I wrote supporting housing desegregation in our lilly white middle class neighborhood.  My point to all of this is that Paula Deen can't use her Southern Culture for her behavior. It was all over the country. Those who were there or were able to be a part of the change and saw what it was like have absolutely no excuse for racist behavior either in in word or action.  It wasn't acceptable then and it certainly isn't now. She has no excuses for her actions at anytime,in my opinion. She can't say she doesn't mean anything by her actions because if I can remember all of that she surely must too.

  •  Great diary. I hope it doesn't just slide down (7+ / 0-)

    the list today because I think it could open some good discussion about an important aspect of America.

    For me, the moment you speak of came a few years ago, when I learned the story of Emmett Till for the first time.  I still marvel that I was an adult before I heard his story.  After that, I couldn't just quietly squirm when relatives or friends told racist jokes.  I couldn't just remain quietly uncomfortable anymore.  

    I'm not a jerk about it, but I let these people know that it's no more acceptable to spread their racism around me than it was for them to smoke around me.  It's just not allowed around me anymore.

    I truly believe that fighting racism is like a substance abuse recovery program. The goal shouldn't be for instant perfection.  We can't even agree on what "perfection" even looks like in this country.  But we absolutely MUST strive to do better each minute, each day, each month, each year.  Recovery doesn't start at the end of the journey.  Recovery starts with the choice to do better all the time.  

    I'm still getting there myself. Just as most addicts can always find someone worse than themselves and fool themselves into thinking they aren't that bad, we do ourselves no favors by smugly pointing fingers at Paula Deen and thinking ourselves far, far superior.  I don't need to be less racist than Paula Deen.  I need to be less racist than I was yesterday.          

    Metaphors be with you.

    by koosah on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 12:10:04 PM PDT

  •  What a great world we would have if people (4+ / 0-)

    just listened to your advice! Thanks for the great post!

  •  sadly (5+ / 0-)

    this treatment will probably harden her views.  now she can blame cultural sensitivity for losing her Food Network contract

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 01:38:41 PM PDT

  •  Your diary rings true for my experience too. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDWolverton, Joy of Fishes

    Well said. I battle the legacy of my white-bread upbringing in the same way. With time one realizes how insidious the effects can be.

  •  Her followers claim if VA and other Southern (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDWolverton

    states celebrate colonial times as does Colonial Williamsburg by showing workers dressed as slaves then her "party theme" to have workers dressed as slaves is not much different.  

    I personally believe the n word should not be used by anyone, including African Americans who say it to each other even if used in a different connotation.  I guess that's why the film Django used the word over 100 times; to remind the viewer how ugly the word is and why no one should use it.

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