Let’s be real. If you were born in the south, and you are over the age 20, I’d say chances are about 99.9% that you have used the “n” word at some time or another in your life.
I do not consider myself a racist. I have many friends of African descent, several of whom are on my FB friends list. I’d just as soon sit down to dinner with them, or invite them into my home as I had any other person with whom I am friends. And this is coming from a girl who grew up before integration, and lived through the turbulent years that followed.
When I started 1st grade, there were separate schools, separate water fountains, separate waiting rooms, etc. for black folks and white folks. During my 2nd grade year, the process of integration was implemented, and I remember distinctly the first few black children who came to our school. I am still friends with many of them, and see them occasionally around town. I was just a little kid, and it didn’t matter to me. I was too young to understand how difficult it was for the older kids, and what I am sure was a nightmare for so many. I remember the times being unsettling... the George Wallace thing, and the Martin Luther King thing, and some of the social upheaval that followed. Back in those days, though, my school went 1st through 8th grade, so by the time we were in the 8th grade, we were all used to each other, and coexisted quite nicely - at least in my memory. I do remember in high school there being tough times, and a good bit of disparity, but then, we were out of our comfort zone in our little school here in town.
I believe that every person is precious to God, and the soul inside knows no color. The soul inside learns the culture of the home and family in which it is raised, and we all would agree that there are cultural differences among different ethnic groups. "Different" does not dictate "better", or "more important than" someone else. I believe in the equality of all mankind with respect to the value of a person. However, I also expect every person to be a productive member of society, regardless of race. Every. Person. Granted, all people are not born equally into opportunity. Most people have to create their own opportunity through hard work and determination. Every person is born with potential.
Paula Deen is just a woman who loves to cook, and has made tons of money with her shows and her books. I’m not a fan, but I don't NOT like her, either. I don’t watch her show (haha… how funny would that be…) and when I do venture into the kitchen, I certainly don’t cook like her. (and I use the word “cook” very lightly here…) My closest encounter with Paula Deen was to stand amid a throng of people in the store on Black Friday to help Whitney get a set of her cookware.
Today, though, I find myself feeling a little badly for Miss Butter.
The thing is, back before I was ever even aware that blacks and whites didn’t get along, it wasn’t considered a “bad” word. The acceptable word to describe a black person was “Negro”. Which, to my mind, seemed a bit more sophisticated than “colored”. Apparently it was a much more sophisticated word than most southerners cared to pronounce, and it evolved to the “n” word that is now hated by so many. To say someone was a “n”, back in those days, just meant they were of African descent. I’m not sure at what point it became so objectionable. Well, I guess when it began to be thrown at them with a tone of disgust. You can pretty much make any word sound hateful if you want to. It wasn’t that long ago that someone said “I love you”… and while those are the words we most love to hear… I was insulted. In many cases, it’s not “the word(s)”. It’s the intent of the heart, the actions of the person, that make the word(s) good or bad.
I've said it. And you've probably said it too. And while I maintain that back in those days I said it in the innocent way - in the way of identifying an ethnic group, I also admit that I have said it in a hateful way. THAT was also our culture. No excuses. It was wrong. They called us hateful names, too. Doesn't justify any of it, but you know... it just was what it was.
That said, I totally agree that to use the “n” word in today's world is inappropriate, and offensive. (Unless you are an African-American person. I’ve never understood why it is so acceptable, popular, even, for them to call each OTHER the “n” word, but for someone of another race to do so is considered highly insulting and unacceptable.) Example: Earlier today I read a comment on Ms. Deen’s FB page from a mom who says “…my children didn’t learn the “n” word from Paula, but from two African-American kids referring to themselves to it in the park”.
Just sayin’ … seems to me if a group of people (ANY group) does not wish to be identified with any particular label or name, they shouldn’t go around calling each other that which they find so offensive coming from another group of people.
Things had changed drastically by the time my daughter reached school age, and now even more so with my grandkids. We’ve really come a long, long way. There definitely still exists prejudice and racism, especially in the south. But to be fair, it’s not just against black people.
I expect that if mankind still walks upon the earth as we know it in another couple hundred years, the definition between races will be so fine it will be difficult to tell ethnicity without a DNA test. As generations die out, and as more and more people cross racial lines to marry and procreate, then one of these days, we’ll all be the same.
May I also add that while I do feel badly for Ms. Deen about this absurdly ridiculous lawsuit, and the ensuing media frenzy, I kind of also feel that her apology has more to do with trying to save her business than it does with saying something offensive 20 years ago. I see the image of Jimmy Swaggart crying rivers of tears on television confessing that he was wrong. Others come to mind as well. I just kinda think that if these people truly felt badly about their behavior, they’d be crying long before someone exposed their sin, or filed a lawsuit against them.
And at the risk of sounding like I am a racist – to the person who is bringing this suit… REALLY? This is your classic case of - "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen." I’m just so sick of all the PC crap in our world. Everyone wants to stand up for the First Amendment and speak their mind – until they are offended by something someone else says. I guess what really irks me is that the media, the public, the movie stars, the ACLU, the *important* people in our culture will fight to the death against anyone who says a negative word about LGBTs, Jews, African-Americans and most ESPECIALLY against Muslims. However, anyone can say whatever they want to say about a person who loves Jesus. Yes, I totally realize that there are many Christians who are goobers and do stupid things. I also acknowledge that there are a lot of believers who are haters, especially against LGBTs, and that is atrociously wrong (another subject for another post)… but people of faith are on the receiving end of jokes, ridicule, and downright hate, too. But that's okay, we really don't need the ACLU or movie stars taking up for us,
We have our own Defender. Seriously. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. If you don’t wanna be talked about badly, don’t talk badly about other folks. No matter who you are.
When I offend someone, (and I do it far more than I would like), I do my very best to apologize and make it right. As quickly as possible. But is it necessary to apologize for something that was part of everyday culture even as late as the 50s and 60s? In my opinion, no. Those were the birth pangs for some very difficult times in our nation, especially here in the south. My goodness. If I had to apologize for everything I did wrong in the last decade (much less the last five and a half decades), I'd never have time to do anything else.
If we could look in the closets of every CEO of every company, there is no doubt we'd find some skeletons. Something he or she did in the past that they are ashamed of. Do we strip them of their credentials and/or titles? Heavenly days! I don't see the E! network canning the Kardashians for their indiscretions. Rather, they are celebrated. The highest office in our land was tainted by a stain on a blue dress - yet that incident (and the lies told to cover it up) resulted in less "punishment" than is being handed down to Ms. Deen. What is WRONG with this world?
Instead of stupid lawsuits like this, that will end up costing probably millions of dollars, incite arguments and perpetuate feelings of resentment, I propose this:
Spend the money on a new textbook to be used by every school in every state no later than first grade. Required reading. Book reports and skits. The whole nine yards. It will take some time, but eventually the message will be received, and as the older generations die out, the concept will become accepted. The book?
“The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss
If you’ve never read it, stop what you are doing right this minute and either dig up your library card and go to the nearest library TOMORROW, or go toAmazon.com and buy your own copy. Read it. And read it again. Read it to your children, and to your grandchildren. And if you're blessed enough to have them, read it to your great-grandchildren.