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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Paula Deen and My Black Child


I am the mother of a black child. A child who some people in our larger culture describe with a term that dates back to the slave days. I was off-grid when this Paula Deen thing broke, so I haven't heard or read everything about the story.

But this I know. She used an inappropriate term to refer to a person of color and then initially appeared unapologetic, stating something along the lines of "it's not up to me to determine what might or might not offend someone."

Let's be clear. The N-word is offensive. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine or not determine that. Her comments and celebrity keep racism alive. The only way to eliminate the culture of privilege that Paula Deen seems to be so clueless about is to bring it into the light and name it, even at the risk of alienating others. I owe this to my son.

So here goes: She is NOT deserving of "support." Our circle of friends and family, nuclear and extended, should be a safe space from the larger dominant culture where my child will face the Paula Deens of the world. Her comments affect ALL children, white and brown.

Someone who "likes" a "We Support Paula Deen" Facebook page -- while perhaps not an overt racist -- is at minimum blissfully ignorant of the racism that still pervades this society. It demonstrates that the sense of privilege is alive and well, and that person is part of the larger dominant culture and isn't willing to be at the forefront of changing the status quo.

It demonstrates an inability to see the world through my brown-skinned child's brown eyes. It makes me question whether my child is safe within a circle that includes someone who would "like" that Facebook page.

Forgive Paula Deen if that is what you feel your religion compels you to do. But "support her"? Trust me, if your child had brown skin, you wouldn't be clicking that "like" button. That's pretty much all you need to know.

I cannot and will not stand silent. I must STAND UP for my child just as I would if my own skin were brown.

Maya Angelou has said, "When you know better, you do better."

I'm hoping now that they know better, anyone who has "liked" that page will do better and "unlike" it.



2 comments:

  1. It's painful to see that attitude close to you. I hope this encourages people in your life (and anyone else) to really do some soul searching. Racism is so much more than the extreme and physically violent expressions of hate. It's also the everyday dismissal, failure to respect others, that hurts people, including our kids. All of our kids.

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