Paula Dean As Rorschach Test

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By John Hubbuch

I only have watched Paula Dean for 5 minutes, but that was enough. Her faux Southern, oleaginous, treacly cornpone schtick was not for me. She does not interest me, but the reaction to her admission that she used the n-word as a youth does.  

I just got back from visiting my family in  southern Indiana. Reaction to Ms. Dean's comments and the consequent termination of her TV program and corporate sponsorships was very different than it was in uber-liberal Oak Park where it was pretty hard to find a Paula pal. Down south there were a lot more defenders of  her use of the n-word 50 or more years ago.         

I concluded that Ms. Dean's little dust up made for a kind of Rorschach test for racism. Liberals saw her as a straight up racist. Many liberals think almost every older white southerner is a racist. Conservatives saw Ms. Dean as only the latest victim of political correctness.                   

There is a further  subtlety to the discussion framed by this question: is  it racist to condemn the n-word usage by Ms. Dean , but defend her  on the grounds that everybody was racist 50 years ago. If Thomas Jefferson and Gerge Washington can own slaves and be on Mt. Rushmore and be foregiven,  then surely Paula Dean can be defended in this case. Times change. Paula's problem is that her whole down home throwback to the 50's personna and cooking style screams  racist matron. ( See the movie The Help). Many of us believe she still uses the n-word. Imagine reaction to Meryl Streep's admission that she used the n-word 50 years ago. Crickets chirping. 

The Paula Dean story is a reminder that the dark stain of slavery remains upon the fabric of our nation.


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Reader Comments

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tiffster from McKeesport   

Posted: August 6th, 2013 12:10 AM

Paula dean never interested me. Something about her, couldn't put my finger on it at the time. She did this to herself and made herself look worse for her crazy sorry videos. She has a problem a very big one to treat people like this and use the n word. How mean and cruel. How would she like it? Iam not prejudice or racist, treat all peopl with respect. She deserved what happened to her. What a phony.

Violet Aura  

Posted: July 12th, 2013 10:14 AM

Cont. about racism with Deen? What about making her answer questions live on tv versus raking her over the coals and trying to destroy what she's worked for? That seems to be the brilliant answer to racism: hit people over the head in punishment. It won't do anything but create a sense of martyrdom in those who think that way. Another thing: if BLACK employees were the primary victims of Deen, where are they in the legal process? The person suing her is WHITE. You fight for ur rights!

Violet Aura  

Posted: July 12th, 2013 10:11 AM

Well this is bizarre...I agree with OP Rez AND OP Resident 545! Deen is a racist but in my mind there are two types of racists: benevolent and angry/mean-spirited. Deen obviously considers BP inferior but she has a maternal attitude towards them, as if they are children. However, it is NOT against the law to fantasize about the antebellum South! I mean, it is truly scary that people would justify having the book throw at someone because they have a THOUGHT. How about starting a conversation...

OP Rez too  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 10:25 PM

Paula Deen's use of the n-word is the tip of the iceberg. First, that word doesn't slip out of your mouth if it isn't part of your vocabulary. And she used it in the 80s, not the pre-civil rights 60s . Secondly, recent videos show her making other questionable comments regarding her employee and other issues. Using the n-word 30 years ago could be excused if a person had grown since that time. It appears that she has not and that is the problem with her today.

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 3:23 PM

alt...the intention isn't as important as the result. Clearly the result of "anti-poverty" programs of LBJ & Dems has been to create more poverty, and to create generations of dependents. The only question is whether it was intentional. My opinion is both...LBJ & others wanted to create dependence, & some truly thought they were doing good. It may not fit your template of a benevolent nanny state, but it's easy to connect the dots between Dem racism and today's challenges in black America.


Posted: July 11th, 2013 2:27 PM

See Django Unchained, and listen to various rap artists, then ask yourself or anyone why it is okay to use this word? Oh yeah, its art.


Posted: July 11th, 2013 1:55 PM

It is good of you to tone down the LBJ quote for consumption in a family paper. What he actually said is far more daming -- of him, not anti-poverty programs. As despicable as Johnson's words are it still does not support your conclusion regarding the intention of civil rights legislation nor your original assertion regarding the effect of financial assistance to the poor and unemployed.

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 12:16 PM

alt...not paranoid in the least. Simply stating the facts. LBJ often talked about creating "200 years of Democrat voters" by making them dependent on govt for sustenance. These policies affected urban blacks more because of their concentration in large, Democrat-run cities. The white welfare recipients were mostly spread out in rural areas. Not a large enough concentration of voters for LBJ, RJ Daley, etc to care. Some left wing bigotry is soft, some hard. But it's there & always has been.


Posted: July 10th, 2013 5:41 PM

@OP Resident #545 - Your assertion that liberals "deliberately destroyed the black family" is nothing short of paranoid. About 40% of all welfare dollars are received by black people. White people are a close second receiving 39% of welfare dollars. The numbers refute your theory that public assistance is motivated by the evil of left-wing racism of the Democratic Party. Can you explain why the assistance would not debilitate white people as well?

RF Achievement  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 3:44 PM

@Tom, almost forgot. You can drop the "tea bagger" reference. It is racist. Are you a racist? Also, of note Ms Deen is a avid supporter of our current President -- interesting these things go in multiple directions. So you typical cook county solution does not fit here.

RF Achievement  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 3:41 PM

@Tom, why is it that your government background slants you so much?

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 3:29 PM

Tom, why the continued use of a gay slur at those with whom you disagree? Surely someone with your high degree of tolerance and your superior intellect could come up with a more pithy put-down without coming off as homophobic. Try harder, please.

Still supporting Paula Dean  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 1:37 PM

We, John , this moderate liberal in OP still supports Pauls Dean. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however I find it interesting to see some commenters here don't even know the facts on the Dean deposition.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 1:09 PM

There is the problem with her kicking tuxedo kittens and Dalmatian puppies for being mixed. Not to mention that hardly any of her products are vegan a clear violation of meatless Monday. The people of Oak Park do here by sentence Ms. Dean to exile in the great state of Georgia. Seriously, the culture of the South and it's cooking is as much of a black thing as it is a white thing. Some of the black folk that I work with find it odd that I enjoy many of the comfort foods that they enjoy

up to date  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 1:09 PM

Paula Dean's inability to update her thinking from what she grew up with over 50 years ago is the issue. 50 years ago it was legal to refuse to hire a woman because she was a woman. I wonder how Paula Dean would react to being told she wasn't getting a job or an endorsement because she is a woman. She's a smart woman. Time for her to come to terms with the fact that the world has moved on.

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 1:02 PM

Paula Dean is insignificant in the grand scheme, & I never like her show, her persona, or her food. That said, I don't think she's evil, just ignorant. What is truly evil & racist is the deliberate destruction of the black family by white "liberals" & the Democrat Party through "Great Society" social engineering. CHA-type housing, no school choice, & eliminating the role of fathers through welfare incentives was & is far more racist & evil than anything Paula Dean ever did. You own that, OP Left


Posted: July 10th, 2013 12:02 PM

Paula Deen's problems run far deeper. Her endorsement of Smithfield Ham, a proven animal abuser. Her schlepping of faux southern food that was really fattier versions of existing normal fare, all while having diabetes caused by the very diet that made her wealthy. Then she signs a lucrative deal with a diabetes drug, thus completing the full moneygrab cycle. So all the pancake makeup in the world can't cover up her trail of tears.

Tom from River Forest   

Posted: July 10th, 2013 11:07 AM

The "problem" was not just Deen's use of the "N" word. It was her use of that word while harboring a desire to return to the antebellum South. For goodness sakes, she wanted to host a wedding where all of the servers were African Americans in tuxes. She only didn't do it because she recognized how bad it looked. She is also an employer who forces darker black employees to use separate bathrooms from white and lighter blacks. Deen is clearly an deep set racist who gets what she deserves.

Life goes on  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 10:54 AM

I watched Paula's apologies and thought she came across as more concerned about preserving her business empire. It sounds like she treated people who worked at her restaurant poorly. Tiger Woods lost his endorsements due to scandal too. I have no problem with either one losing business deals because of bad behavior.

Betty Van Snepson from Bay City, Mi.  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 10:31 AM

Anybody that used the poem-EEnie Meenie Minie Moe used the n word! All kids in the 50's sang that poem while playing. People are liars and hypocrits that deny they ever said that word! The whole episode with Ms. Dean is a put-up job against her. She is being used as a skapegoat, Also, I always understood that taping someones phone conversation was illegal.

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