Cooking sensation and TV personality, Paula Deen is in hot water (pun intended). While being deposed in a video, she acknowledged using the “n” word (n*gger) to describe an African American robber who put a gun to her head at a bank. On the Today show, she told reporter Matt Lauer:
“It was 30 years ago. I had had a gun put to my head, a shaking gun, because the man that had the gun to my head was unbeknown to me a customer at my main office. . . That man was so frightened the day he put the gun to my head. He was a customer. I had gone out on a limb for him and gotten him a loan, and he was frightened I was going to recognize him.”
This revelation has caused an uproar against Paula Deen. The Food Network decided not to renew her contract, Walmart and a food company have dropped her as well. QVC and other companies are weighing in the matter and waiting to see how things go before making a decision. Last week, Deen was scheduled to appear in the Today Show but cancelled due to exhaustion. However, she posted a video on youtube. She rescheduled her Today Show appearance and gave an emotional explanation of what happened and asked for the forgiveness of all.
The situation is indeed grave. She used a word that has a lot of bad history. Black slaves were abused with that word. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation and civil rights achievements, African Americans were still called by that racial epithet. The word has a lot of evil behind it and I understand why some are upset and calling for her head. However, a word is a word. It is how we live our lives that define us, not what people call us.
I applaud Paula Deen for apologizing and being truthful to begin with; however, this scandal will be very hard to come back from. What is troubling is that Hip Hop artists make money by using that word and variations of it, yet their sponsors do not drop them nor is a big fuss made. I think the word’s consequences should be equally applicable to all who use it regardless of race or gender.
***UPDATE*** June 27, 2013
Target and drugmaker Novo Nordisk have just dropped Paula Deen from their business.
***UPDATE*** June 28, 2013
Sears, Ballantine Books, and JC Penney have joined other companies in dropping Paula Deen.