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"Inappropriate and hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable."
June 22, 2013 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Last month, Paula Deen gave a deposition (full transcript) for a discrimination lawsuit brought against her and her brother by a former employee. In it, she stated that "of course" she had used "the n-word" in the past and responded to questions regarding a "very southern-style wedding" in which the servers would be "professional black men doing a fabulous job." This week, Deen recorded, posted, and then made private three slightly different videos of apology. The Food Network has since announced that it will not renew her contract when it expires at the end of this month.

Deposition excerpts, tweets from stood-up Today Show folks: Huffington Post

TPM: When Paula Deen Tried to Cook a "Sambo Burger"

Previously on MetaFilter:
Paula Deen as new spokesperson for diabetes medication.
Paula Deen: Gastro Ghouls 'n Fear Fritters
Paula Deen as wacky meme subject.
posted by houseofdanie (366 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm glad her contract's not being renewed. That was beyond the pale.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:58 AM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


From the deposition:
Lawyer: What about jokes, if somebody is telling a joke that's got --

Deen: It's just what they are, they're jokes.

Lawyer: Okay. Would you consider those to be using the N-word in a mean way?



Deen: That's -- that's kind of hard. Most -- most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks. Most jokes target -- I don't know. I didn't make up the jokes, I don't know. I can't -- I don't know.

Lawyer: Okay.

Deen: They usually target, though a group. Gays or straights, black, redneck, you know, I just don't know. I can't, myself, determine what offends another person.
There's so, so much to dig into here--"most" jokes she's heard, maybe, as the very very least example--but oh God I do not have the time, strength, or at this point, emotional fortitude. Ultimately, all I can do is wait for people like this to die.
posted by tzikeh at 9:59 AM on June 22, 2013 [21 favorites]


> "We’ll call it after you—the Sambo Burger. You know—Sam, Beau. Sounds great, doesn’t it?’”

...

This is a line from the new season of Arrested Development, right?
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:59 AM on June 22, 2013 [57 favorites]


In the background, I think, is the fact that Food Network has a history of wanting to keep its celebrity costs low. The network believes it has developed a successful formula for original programming, and that formula doesn't rely on a host having any individual quality. Paula Deen is one of a few at the top, along with Bobby Flay and Alton Brown, that it's almost surprising Food Network has kept around this long.
posted by cribcage at 10:00 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hadn't been following this controversy at all.

I'm stunned. Especially since Deen showed such a sense of horror when she discovered her ancestors were slave owners a while back.
posted by magstheaxe at 10:03 AM on June 22, 2013


Sometimes the flesh peels back and we can see the monster within.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:03 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Food network fired and then rehired Robert Irvine for lying about his work history, so I assume they'll just wait for this to blow over and than give Paula Deen a new show.
posted by Harpocrates at 10:03 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am not sure how depositions work. Was this her Lawyer tossing her softball questions that she was using to destroy her reputation?
posted by chemoboy at 10:03 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes the flesh peels back and we can see the monster within.

Still tastes like chicken.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:04 AM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


In a slightly tangential thing, I have two daughters aged 6 and 9. Consequently, fart and poop jokes are a thing.

I'm stymied as to how I present to them Blazing Saddles, which coming out in 74, I recall, I would have been 7 when I saw it, and there wasn't a whole lot of 'controversial' about it AT THE TIME.

Now is a very different time. And while I'd love to share with them The Campfire Scene, I just can't really figure out how to explain the rest of the movie. So I just put it off until they're older.
posted by mikelieman at 10:08 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


As long as Bill Maher doesn't get involved in this, we should be alright.
posted by zoo at 10:11 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


as an extension of her learning about her slave owning ancestors - here she discusses how hard it was on her great+ grandpappy for all the "workers" (slaves) to leave his plantation after the war.

and just in case you skipped over the southern wedding because the n-word stuff is awful enough - a quote :
“I mean, it was really impressive. That restaurant represented a certain era in America…after the Civil War, during the Civil War, before the Civil War…It was not only black men, it was black women…I would say they were slaves.”
it's really not a surprise to me that she's racist - i have lots of paula deen type characters in my family - but it is a little surprising that her years of media training hasn't taught her to hide it better.
posted by nadawi at 10:12 AM on June 22, 2013 [27 favorites]


I've worked with her before, at the food network.

1.) She's exactly the same on-camera as off, more notably so than any other celebrity I've met or worked with.

2.) And please don't take this as defending her at all, but from watching this unfold and from my brief time around her, I believe she was brought up with the understanding that a good, positive attitude is more important than anything, and thus just assumed that everything was fine as long as she, herself, didn't see any hate or harm in it.

Clearly she is wrong.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:12 AM on June 22, 2013 [56 favorites]


Talking Points Memo posted excerpts from Deen’s 2006 autobiography detailing early racially-charged incidents within her life, including an encounter she had when she was 10 years old with a frequent babysitter, a black woman who, on one occasion, brought her daughter along while watching Deen:

“That child had many big, fat blisters on her hand, probably from helping out her momma,” Deen wrote. “Something about those blisters just attracted me and I remember hitting those little hands with a bolo bat, and it busted her blisters good. It was pretty satisfying. I don’t know why I did it. I have a hard time thinking I did it out of meanness. But her mother — I can’t remember if she slapped me across the face or she spanked me or both – but either way, now I know I sure had it comin’.”

Deen said in the book that after telling her mother and grandparents about the incident, her grandfather had the woman arrested.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:12 AM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


> Now is a very different time.

I run a classic movies ('40s to '60s, mostly) program at the library where I work. I decided to go with old films because that way I wouldn't have to worry about patrons being offended by swearing, nudity, etc., but what I'd forgotten is that a lot of them can be, shall we say, culturally insensitive by today's standards.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:14 AM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


The article saying "Oh, she's from a different generation" is bullshit. My father's two years younger than her, grew up in a very racially segregated Chicago with parents and live-in grandmother who were major racists (they forbid him from listening to Elvis Presley because that was "n- music"), and while he's not exactly the most savvy person about his own privilege, he's certainly not tossing around racist epithets on a regular basis and is generally appalled by racism.
posted by jaguar at 10:15 AM on June 22, 2013 [24 favorites]


"We’ll call it after you—the Sambo Burger. You know—Sam, Beau. Sounds great, doesn’t it?"

The only way she could even begin to convince me that this isn't retconning history is if it had been spelled Sambeau the whole time.

Also in that TPM article she managed to trump the "some of my best friends are black" cliche with "some of my friends were the children of my black nannies." Impressive.
posted by komara at 10:16 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


chemoboy, normally in depositions it is the adversarial attorney deposing you.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:16 AM on June 22, 2013


I hope her career boils away until it is reduced to nothing.
posted by Renoroc at 10:18 AM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


But you guys, she has a black friend! In the video that nadawi posted, she points him out, and tells him to move so that people can see him. Because he's standing against a black wall.
posted by acidic at 10:19 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Most -- most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks.

Oh... god. I want you to know as a native Southerner that I am both really not surprised by this and facepalming something awful right now. That really takes the cake in terms of embarrassing the whole region.

I will say, there is a little part of me that sees this in kind of the other direction... focusing on the network instead of Dean, there is this thing in our culture now where it's really totally ethically accepted for a corporation to make lots of money off of someone's labor or talent and then just drop them like a rock, whenever, for whatever reason, as soon as you don't need them anymore. At will employment, etc. It makes me a little ill. You knew who this person was, so a pure CYA firing really doesn't impress.
posted by selfnoise at 10:20 AM on June 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


and thus just assumed that everything was fine as long as she, herself, didn't see any hate or harm in it.

...

"Something about those blisters just attracted me and I remember hitting those little hands with a bolo bat, and it busted her blisters good. It was pretty satisfying. I don’t know why I did it."


there is something downright chilling about those two comments right next to each other.
posted by nadawi at 10:21 AM on June 22, 2013 [35 favorites]


As I said to a colleague the other day: we could probably do worse than to have the spokeswoman for casual racism also be the spokeswoman for type-2 diabetes.
posted by R. Schlock at 10:21 AM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's a shame what Paula Deen has done to herself here. Savannah is a regular getaway spot for my family, and we make a point of eating at her restaurant while visiting. It really is a great place, but it's going to be damn tough to justify going back after this.
posted by deadmessenger at 10:22 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


there is this thing in our culture now where it's really totally ethically accepted for a corporation to make lots of money off of someone's labor or talent and then just drop them like a rock, whenever, for whatever reason, as soon as you don't need them anymore.

It's not as if she wasn't generously compensated. Unlike, you know. A slave.
posted by acidic at 10:24 AM on June 22, 2013 [28 favorites]


this thing in our culture now

from the beginning of hired celebrity, embarrassing your bosses/making your fans upset has been a reason to lose that position. a conversation about at will employment is certainly an interesting one but doesn't really have any bearing on this case. she had a contract that was ending - they didn't fire her. honestly, they probably leaked some of this to keep from renewing the contract - but her struggle is not the worker's struggle.
posted by nadawi at 10:25 AM on June 22, 2013 [27 favorites]


we could probably do worse than to have the spokeswoman for casual racism also be the spokeswoman for type-2 diabetes.

In that type-2 diabetes is also a shameful moral failing?
posted by wreckingball at 10:28 AM on June 22, 2013 [23 favorites]


Maybe she should/could have used the phrase my 94yo grandmother used when referring to colored persons: sugar baby
posted by robbyrobs at 10:29 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Roxanne Gay at Salon: puts Paula Deen in context. In essence, it shouldn't be surprising that an older woman from a racist part of a racist country would be racist. Sad as hell, but not surprising.
posted by chrchr at 10:31 AM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


it's really not a surprise to me that she's racist - i have lots of paula deen type characters in my family - but it is a little surprising that her years of media training hasn't taught her to hide it better.

The interesting thing about all this is that it's not really related to statements she's made in the media. It's statements from a deposition for a suit related to discrimination. Which sort of cuts straight to the heart of the "solution" to racism being for people to just try not to say blatantly racist things in front of other people. Sooner or later, those crisp, buttery chickens come home to roost.

Also, did anyone really think that Paula Deen was specifically anti-racist or anything? She's white, 60+ and from Savannah, Georgia. Nothing she's said is unusual for people of that demographic. Which isn't to say that this can be excused by that fact, but I mean, what were people expecting?

If anything, I hope this situation can be a teachable moment that, yeah, a lot of southern heritage is about racism, and unfortunately you can't pick and choose and retcon the ugly out of existence.
posted by Sara C. at 10:32 AM on June 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


See, there's house burgers and then there's back yard burgers.
posted by Teakettle at 10:32 AM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Sambo's is a restaurant, formerly an American restaurant chain, started in 1957 by Sam Battistone, Sr. and Newell Bohnett. Though the name was taken from portions of the names of its founders, the chain soon found itself associated with The Story of Little Black Sambo.
posted by 445supermag at 10:32 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I grew up in Ohio in the '50's. The racism INSIDE the houses was full on. It still is, I never go back because of it. Oh they like having big football players and winning the high school basketball trophies all right but that is where, for the most part, it ends. The poor areas in Columbus with the sad yards, rusted fences and windows by US Plywood, the parked older cars with the weeds around the tires are a marked contrast to the communities in a vast circle around the core of the city where the white population has fled and set up THEIR lives. This is, I am sure, common in the rust belt and certainly is in West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. Such a waste for so long, based mostly on the idea that making white poor and lower class folks fear blacks taking something from them while all the time the real thieves are the much whiter upper classes profiting from the fear and distrust created in the '40's post war when the real industrial impact needed a pliable supply of labor and a sub class to do the jobs nobody would do and to pay them less and less and then blame THEM for the situation.
posted by Freedomboy at 10:34 AM on June 22, 2013 [29 favorites]


It's a shame what Paula Deen has done to herself here. Savannah is a regular getaway spot for my family, and we make a point of eating at her restaurant while visiting. It really is a great place, but it's going to be damn tough to justify going back after this.

I'm from Philly, birthplace of the cheesesteak. There's two competing shops across the street from each other that each claims to be the best in the city, Pat's & Geno's. It's a rivalry famous well beyond the city limits. When people ask me which one I'm loyal to, for me there's no question. I only eat at Pat's, because Geno is a racist. He even has a sign at the order window saying you must order in English. Paula's racism may not be as deliberate as Geno's but I kinda hope it'll have an impact on her restaurant's bottom line.
posted by scalefree at 10:37 AM on June 22, 2013 [30 favorites]


Savannah is a regular getaway spot for my family, and we make a point of eating at her restaurant while visiting. It really is a great place, but it's going to be damn tough to justify going back after this.

A lot of locals recommend Mrs. Wilkes Dinning Room. Even President Obama went there when he visited Savannah.

As a Savannah local for the past 10 years, I'd say Deen is quirky woman who's heart is probably in the right place overall, but she's blind to race relations. But a lot of the city's inhabitants are.

If you're looking for awesome eating in Savannah, some of my personal favorites are Zunzi's, Toucan Cafe, Sweet Potatoes, Randy's BBQ and the Crab Shack.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:39 AM on June 22, 2013 [23 favorites]


When I was a kid my parents had friends in semi-rural southern Ohio we stopped visiting because, holy shit, the racism.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:42 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm stymied as to how I present to them Blazing Saddles

Culture changes. A hundred years ago, an entertainer could get up on almost any stage in United States and use the word "nigger" in the act, and nobody would bat an eye. But if that same act included the words "hell" or "damn," the entertainer would have been fired on the spot and not allowed back on that stage. Today it's the reverse. Most of us think the current standard is right, and 100 years ago most people would have said their standard was right. I sometimes wonder what ordinary aspects of our language today will horrify the audiences of 2113.

But culture doesn't change uniformly. Some people are in the forward ranks, and some people lag behind. There are progressive places and regressive places. Reading the transcript of the deposition, it's clear that Dean is lagging. I'm not being sarcastic here. "But that's just not a word that we use as time has gone on. Things have changed since the '60s in the south. Any my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel of mean behavior ... As well as I do."

So she gets the idea that some language isn't acceptable anymore -- if you use it in a mean way. She still doesn't get that she shouldn't use that language in jokes.

"Blazing Saddles" is a product of its time, and it uses the language for humor. Forty years ago it was considered hip and hilarious. Today it obviously makes some people uncomfortable. In another 40 years, who knows?

Paula Deen is a product of her time. She learned what she was taught. Apparently she's learned a little more over the years. I imagine she can learn still more. I suspect she's learning something right now.
posted by Longtime Listener at 10:43 AM on June 22, 2013 [33 favorites]


Yeah, I think all that is way too complicated for a seven year old and you probably just shouldn't ever show them Blazing Saddles.

Not that nobody should ever watch that movie, or it should be banned or something. But I think it's perfectly OK to decide, "Despite the wonderful poop humor, this movie is not appropriate to for me to show my children." Let them find it for themselves when they're old enough to discover media on their own.
posted by Sara C. at 10:47 AM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


My parents are people in their 60s from the South. They're not particularly enlightened, either. I have no idea if they're ever used the N-word, but I know that if they're were asked about it in a deposition, they would know better than to answer like that.

She might be a product of her time, but you really can expect better even of old people from the South.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:47 AM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


"Mrs. Wilkes Dinning Room.

Do they have boothes and johns?
posted by klangklangston at 10:48 AM on June 22, 2013 [30 favorites]


"Blazing Saddles" is a product of its time, and it uses the language for humor. Forty years ago it was considered hip and hilarious.

I beg to differ here. Mel Brooks was trying hard as hell to be controversial:

"The film's original working title was Tex X, in honor of Civil Rights leader Malcolm X. It was changed to Black Bart, after the film's African-American character. Neither title sounded quite right. According to Mel, the title Blazing Saddles came to him as he was taking a shower one day. He immediately told his wife, Anne Bancroft, the title and she liked it. Blazing Saddles it was."
posted by three blind mice at 10:49 AM on June 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


It's important to remember that the blister-breaking episode occurred when Paula was 10 years old and that the sins of 10-year-olds really shouldn't be held against them more than half a century later. What a 10-year-old does after having grown up, however, should be examined.

When I was that age (half a century ago) I used the 'N' word--not knowing what it meant and having never even seen a black person. All the kids in the neighborhood used to do "eenie meanie miney moe..." without having any more idea what any of it meant than the "Ollie Ollie oxen free" that we also used to say.

So I guess that if I were to be asked during a deposition whether or not I'd ever used that word, I'd be quoted as saying, "Yes, but..."
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:50 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't think Paula Deen is a monster. I think she's stupid.
posted by feste at 10:50 AM on June 22, 2013 [21 favorites]


Honestly, Blazing Saddles has a much better relationship with race than a lot of media made now. While I might not show it to a seven-year-old, I'm actually kind of disappointed about how current media largely treats racism as a solved problem, and would never have that kind of intense critique of white racism as a central part of a comedy. (Similar to how I'm annoyed that the abortion sentiments of Fast Times at Ridgemont High are now deprecated.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:51 AM on June 22, 2013 [37 favorites]


leftcoastbob, yeah, I agree with you regarding children. However, what's telling to me about the story is that while Paula instigated the violence, the lesson she was "taught" was that the babysitter's spanking retaliation got her fired.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:53 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's the wide eyed ignorance with which she tells the blister story or talks about how sad it was that her great whatever grandfather couldn't keep slaves any more or discusses the beauty of the antebellum south. there's a strain you can carry there without condemning the sins of a 10 year old.
posted by nadawi at 10:54 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am not sure how depositions work. Was this her Lawyer tossing her softball questions that she was using to destroy her reputation?

According to the CNN link above ("full transcript"), plaintiff Lisa Jackson's attorney was posing questions to Paula Deen.

The interesting thing about all this is that it's not really related to statements she's made in the media. It's statements from a deposition for a suit related to discrimination. Which sort of cuts straight to the heart of the "solution" to racism being for people to just try not to say blatantly racist things in front of other people.

Agreed. I also agree with the "What did people expect from Paula Deen?" sentiment, and that includes Food Network. And I think Deen's admission is interesting compared to, for example, Mark Fuhrman's denial that he (ever? in ten years?) used the word. It almost gets into Bill Clinton territory: Are we angrier if they admit the wrongdoing, with or without apologizing, or if they deny it and then we discover they lied?
posted by cribcage at 10:54 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Which sort of cuts straight to the heart of the "solution" to racism being for people to just try not to say blatantly racist things in front of other people.

I think for many people, not just of her generation but in general, the only thing they feel is necessary in order for them to tick the little "probably not a racist" checkbox in their minds is to not actively commit violence against minorities.
posted by elizardbits at 10:57 AM on June 22, 2013 [33 favorites]


My parents are white folks in their 60s from the south. They remember when their home state closed the public schools to get around Brown, and they remember how long it took for them to reopen after Griffin v. Prince Edward County School Board. I've never ever heard them say the N-word or any other racially derogatory name, except when I would overhear one at school and ask them what it meant. So yeah, no excuse for Paula Deen.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:58 AM on June 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


for me it's absolutely not just the word - it's her whole history of dealing with race. and yes, it's the deposition - but a deposition that touches on things she did for work, the southern wedding - and that touches on her media persona and career. she wasn't just making these missteps during a deposition (that her high priced lawyer should have prepared her far better for), she was making these missteps in public which is why she had to admit to them.
posted by nadawi at 10:59 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Paula Deen knows the difference about when to not use the word. She isn't brand new. If it was actually a part of her inability to code switch, she would not have made it as far because she would have already used it publicly. No white person in America blatantly uses the word ni***r unless they mean to or want to. She needs to be punished for it. Her being honest about isn't a heroic act. That's a foolish notion in and of itself. She isn't living in a plantation culture and she isn't to be excused because she's a Southerner. She deserves every bit of public backlash for her private blacklash."

I'm not sure what the "honky" argument in that piece is referring to, but I thought this paragraph's point was worth noting. The idea that she "wouldn't know better" is silly. She knows better.
posted by jaguar at 10:59 AM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


In related news, the Food Network just greenlighted Bobby Deen's new show "Not My Mamas Racial Slurs".
posted by dr_dank at 11:03 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


My parents are people in their 60s from the South. They're not particularly enlightened, either. I have no idea if they're ever used the N-word, but I know that if they're were asked about it in a deposition, they would know better than to answer like that.

Ever? It would be amazing if they had not. But you've hit it on the head. The right answer is "I'm sure I must have as a child. But I stopped using it because my parents and teachers told it was a 'bad word.' Then, as I grew up, I stopped even wanting to use it because I came to understand it." The issue isn't that someone who learned how to use words in 1950's Georgia used to use that word. The issue is that she doesn't understand, even in 2013, that (especially) a public figure can't treat it as a being no big deal.

But she's a "monster" as some here are calling her? Come on. She may be a privileged or befuddled old fool, but is blundering privilege and living in a bubble enough to slap that label on someone?
posted by tyllwin at 11:05 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


it shouldn't be surprising that an older woman from a racist part of a racist country would be racist

I read that article earlier today, and I disagree. In 1967, Paula Deen was 20. There was quite a bit of public discourse about racism in that timeframe, notably from her generation and the one slightly older than hers. When she was 20, there was the Detroit race riot. MLK was making speeches. This was 12 years after Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus. Three years after the Civil Rights Act. She was fully aware of how repulsive her words were.
posted by Houstonian at 11:05 AM on June 22, 2013 [20 favorites]


I think that Blazing Saddles, though it uses the n-word, is super progressive. Like the whole movie is making fun of racists. I suspect that Paula Deen is not doing the same thing. You have to look past just what words are used in speech and grok intent.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 11:06 AM on June 22, 2013 [22 favorites]


She might be a product of her time,

She was 21 when MLK was killed. She wasn't born in 1908.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:09 AM on June 22, 2013 [26 favorites]


Here's the complaint for the civil action brought by Lisa T Jackson.

It's strange and sad. Lisa Jackson was hired to replace a general manager that was sleeping with the staff, and when Paula Deen found out, she fired him and hired Jackson, in a restaurant that was not profitable. Jackson had been hired as a hostess six months before. Deen awarded Jackson even more responsibility toward the end of her employment.
posted by the Real Dan at 11:13 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


A lot of locals recommend Mrs. Wilkes Dinning Room. Even President Obama went there when he visited Savannah.
If you're looking for awesome eating in Savannah, some of my personal favorites are Zunzi's, Toucan Cafe, Sweet Potatoes, Randy's BBQ and the Crab Shack.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:39 PM on June 22 [+] [!]


Thanks for the tips! I've actually eaten at Toucan Cafe, it's not far from the hotel we normally stay at there. My wife and daughter eat at the Crab Shack on most visits as well, although I don't do shellfish so I typically drop them off and go get a bite out on Tybee somewhere. I've gotta check the others out next time we're there.
posted by deadmessenger at 11:13 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think that Blazing Saddles, though it uses the n-word, is super progressive.

There's no "though" about it. It was co-written by -- and initially meant to star -- Richard Pryor fer cryin' out loud. Its use of "the N-word" is best understood in that context; as a slap at those who use the word. Progressive is a mild word for it. There is no more anti-racist film in existence.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:14 AM on June 22, 2013 [76 favorites]


The issue isn't "all white southern people are racist therefore Paula Deen is racist", but more like "many white southern people are racist, therefore it's not terribly surprising that Paula Deen is racist."

I know white southerners around her age who participated in the Civil Rights Movement. I know plenty of white southerners even older and more ignorant who do not casually throw around racial slurs.

But at the same time, no, I can't say that I'm surprised to hear that Paula Deen is racist.

My lack of surprise doesn't excuse anything. It's just... I'm not surprised.
posted by Sara C. at 11:15 AM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


yeah - my granny was born in the 30s and lived a hard blue collar life first in the midwest and then in the south, married to men who owned their own businesses (so even though she worked for them, it wasn't really a job out of the home). she is a product of her time and i will gloss over her indiscretions from time to time (and even she stopped using that specific word 20ish years ago).

paula deen is a far sight younger than that and has a pretty expanded social reach. she didn't just fall off the turnip truck in some sort of time shifted freaky friday holodeck accident.
posted by nadawi at 11:15 AM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think that the blister-breaking story shows how wholly internalized racism was for her at a young age. As a little kid, you meet another little kid for the first time and your first act is to maliciously cause that other little kid pain for your own amusement? This isn't the kind of thing you really do unless you really believe that this other kid isn't even something you recognize as a human being.

Even without the casual racism it's a horrible story, because a child treating an actual animal in that way would also be disgusting, and a disturbing sign of a fundamental lack of human empathy.
posted by elizardbits at 11:16 AM on June 22, 2013 [59 favorites]


Perhaps I need a bit of clarifcation here - in her deposition, is she admitting to past use or current use? I think she is saying that she find usage of the N word now is clearly not acceptable now. I only ask this as shouldn't someone be allowed to learn as they move forward? We all have our arcs of learning about what is right and what is wrong.

When I was in college - I had a friend who really turned me when he figured out I was gay (and this was at a time that I could barely admit it to myself). Nothing was said to my face - but I am pretty sure he said that I was dirty faggot behind my back. It made me very sad. But if I saw this friend again today - I would know that he would feel pretty shitty about happened. He probably has gay friends now. I am not pissed about this. Perhaps I should be - but I am not. We were both stupid back then, but now we are not. Shouldn't we okay with this?
posted by helmutdog at 11:20 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Mrs. Wilkes Dinning Room.

Do they have boothes and johns?


We shared a cocaine and stripper encrusted office once, so I'll forgive your ill timed humor sir this once.

THIS ONCE.

Next time, you'll taste the back of my gloves. GOOD DAY, SIR.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:21 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


> As a little kid, you meet another little kid for the first time and your first act is to maliciously cause that other little kid pain for your own amusement?

To be fair, little kids are not exactly in a perpetual state of grace, even without internalized racism goading them along. The first time my niece met the daughter of a friend of mine she just straight-up punched her in the face because she wouldn't give up a toy.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:22 AM on June 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


Right, but for better or worse you outline the punching motivation - wouldn't give up a toy. Going by Deen's version of the tale, the other little girl did nothing to prompt the bat-hitting other than existing. I agree little kids can be unmitigated shitbags on a regular basis but I think there is a distinct difference between "kiddie conflict prompts kiddie violence" vs "i'm going to hurt you to see what happens".
posted by elizardbits at 11:27 AM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


Martin Luther King spoke to a huge crowd in Albany, Georgia, in 1961. The next day he was arrested there. Paula Deen was 14 at the time, certainly old enough to be aware of what was going on in her small city of 55,000. She says she only had black classmates in high school. That had to be quite a few years after the 1954 Brown decision. Without digging more deeply I would venture to guess that there are private schools in that area that were founded in the wake of Brown as "Segregation Academies." Even if she stayed in public school she surely knew plenty of kids who attended such schools.

Indeed, here in Savannah, where I've lived for the last three years, many of the private schools were founded during that same period and most of them still educate a predominantly white student body. Many white parents who are ok with sending their young children to integrated schools send them to these private schools once they reach middle or high school. The result of this is pitiful education in most of the city's secondary schools. Low graduation rates, unqualified teachers, overcrowding abound. Parents who pay private school tuition fight taxes that might improve schooling for other people's children. One side effect of this is that the schools continue to provide young people willing to work for low wages in the "hospitality" industry and keep the tourists happy.
posted by mareli at 11:34 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


helmutdog, the complaint is about events that occurred between 2005 and 2010. I'm comfortable with Paula Deen being held accountable for that.
posted by argonauta at 11:34 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I only ask this as shouldn't someone be allowed to learn as they move forward?

we aren't talking about the far reaching past.
According to the complaint, Jackson began working for Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, a restaurant run by Hiers, in early 2005 and left in August 2010 due to the inappropriate behavior she said she was subjected to in her time there
and the southern style wedding thing happened in 2007 - which, with or without the word, is really fucking awful.
posted by nadawi at 11:34 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Holy hell - that complaint. First page has Paula Deen saying something about "putting a woman in a man's job," and it just gets worse from there. The dream wedding - "But we can't do that because the media would be on me about that." And the African-American staff having to use different entrances and restrooms than the white staff. And and and... ugh.
posted by queensissy at 11:34 AM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think it's hard for people not from The South to understand this kind of paternal, kind-hearted racism. Deen's deposition doesn't describe violent, hateful, cross-burning racism. It's not even particularly mean-spirited. It's meant as fondness, a weird sort of respect even. It's terribly pernicious and awful and absolutely deserves to be called out and chastised.

I grew up in Houston and while I'd like to think no one I know would be so disgusting as to do a slave themed wedding, it's not unimaginable to me. I don't think it would be seen as completely beyond the pale; the good white folks I grew up with might cluck their tongues a bit, but then go along with it anyway.

Racism in general is awful. The South post-slavery is unimaginably awful to slave descendents, is still awful, and will not truly recover for a long time if ever.
posted by Nelson at 11:38 AM on June 22, 2013 [29 favorites]


helmutdog, it also read, to me, that she still thinks using racial epithets is ok as long as it's not "mean-spirited," for example, in jokes.

Which pains me to even type.
posted by jaguar at 11:41 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd like to think no one I know would be so disgusting as to do a slave themed wedding, it's not unimaginable to me

Wasn't there an FPP a few years back about a Confederacy-themed wedding photo story on a "beautiful weddings"-esque blog? IIRC the blog post itself was taken down after a day of internets outrage.
posted by elizardbits at 11:44 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


there was a South African apartheid themed wedding with black servants and "safari" white colonialists.
posted by sweetkid at 11:45 AM on June 22, 2013


I guess it was not as I remembered, but still grotendous.
posted by elizardbits at 11:46 AM on June 22, 2013


Yay, consequences!
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:47 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh. Hey look at how evil I am everybody! Yikes. There should be a class in grade school where everyone just writes on the board "the Internet doesn't forget" 500 times.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 11:50 AM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sambo's is a restaurant, formerly an American restaurant chain, started in 1957 by Sam Battistone, Sr. and Newell Bohnett. Though the name was taken from portions of the names of its founders, the chain soon found itself associated with The Story of Little Black Sambo.

Holy cow, I had a childhood memory of going to a Sambo-themed restaurant, but I'd grown to think it was some weird mental pastiche I'd generated from the book and the theme parks and restaurants we'd go to on family vacations. It was real.

Next you're going to tell me that there really was an airline called Top Banana and they had yellow airplanes, right?

She was 21 when MLK was killed. She wasn't born in 1908.

I'm not sure if citing a time when a famous black man who worked for racial equality was killed is the best contrast to previous ostensibly more racist times.
posted by weston at 11:52 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "Sometimes the flesh peels back and we can see the monster within.

Still tastes like chicken.
"

Lard. You mean Lard.
posted by symbioid at 11:53 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Heh. Hey look at how evil I am everybody! Yikes. There should be a class in grade school where everyone just writes on the board "the Internet doesn't forget" 500 times.

It wouldn't have helped her to know it. Remember the 2012 presidential election campaign, where it became incredibly clear that Mitt and Ann Romney have values and a worldview that is utterly skewed and distinct from most of the rest of society? It's the same thing here. Paula Deen very plainly, from the deposition, simply does not understand that making racist jokes and replaying racist tropes and treating black people poorly are racist or that people would have a problem with them. Well, maybe she does now, but it took a public information campaign directed squarely at her to get there.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:55 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Lard. You mean Lard.

Oh, y'all, it's butter. Aren't y'all even trying?
posted by tyllwin at 11:55 AM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


And with this world being how it is we end up with ugly as shit articles such as this one: Paula Deen fans vent their outrage at Food Network. Their outrage. Sometimes I wonder if the Klan's got some sort of über-successful recruitment program I'm not aware of.
posted by item at 11:56 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


"The real reason Paula Deen's in the news is not because she's racist, but because she broke the unwritten rules about how to be racist now." -- Teju Cole
posted by tzikeh at 12:00 PM on June 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


Also: Food Network Facebook Page Inundated With Angry Paula Deen Fans; Here Are A Bunch Of People Demanding Paula Deen Be Left Alone
posted by item at 12:00 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's hard for people not from The South to understand this kind of paternal, kind-hearted racism. Deen's deposition doesn't describe violent, hateful, cross-burning racism. It's not even particularly mean-spirited. It's meant as fondness, a weird sort of respect even. It's terribly pernicious and awful and absolutely deserves to be called out and chastised.


Yeah, this. What is maddening about it is the people who are this way truly don't understand what is wrong with their views. To be fair, many people who are this way will treat people of other races kindly, but nevertheless, they are still seeing people of other races as The Other. Not as humans equally made in the image of God as they are, deserving of the same respect as themselves....

Maybe, just maybe, some of this kerfluffle over Paula Deen the Butter Queen will cause some of these folks to think. But I doubt it. They will probably moan and groan about how mean and unfair the Food Network is.

(Oddly enough my mom used to love Paula Deen and her cookbooks-until the day that my dad bought her Deen's autobiography. Apparently Deen must be something of a potty mouth; in any case, Mom was totally turned off by Paula ever since. Go figure.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:00 PM on June 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


Sambo's was definitely real. I ate there as a child. They were like a Denny's, and a good place for pancakes. They had this picture painted on the wall, of a little Indian child (Sambo was from South India) eating pancakes with a tiger. You'd probably remember that painting if you were there as a kid.
posted by Houstonian at 12:01 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Like Muslim-hating Juan Williams I am sure Fox News has an opening for brave truth teller, Paula Deen. After all, The Liberal, Anti-South Media Is Trying To Crucify Paula Deen
posted by munchingzombie at 12:01 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reading about the specific complaints involved in the lawsuit (as described in the linked article) it seems that Deen's real negligence was in not reining in her brother, who seems like the real asshole here.

Jackson, who has filed the lawsuit, worked for Hiers, Deen's brother, and her complaints are about his behavior and workplace (harassment, racism, showing up drunk all the time); Deen is involved because she failed to address the hostile work environment when it was repeatedly brought to her attention (as half-owner of her brother's restaurant), and because she demonstrated racist attitudes in a few conversations.

This excuses none of her racist perspectives, however soft or genteel they might be, and I'm not surprised the TV company who employed her is no longer interested. But I think the real vitriol in this situation is properly aimed at Hiers, who as described seems a pretty horrendous person.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:01 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also, the South has no monopoly on racism, folks. I've lived in several distinct regions in the U.S. after being raised in the deep South, and have unfortunately found a colorful rainbow of racism and other variants of otherizing everywhere I've lived.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:04 PM on June 22, 2013 [32 favorites]


I know it is easy to jump on bandwagons, but looking at the load they are carrying doesn't hurt sometimes either.

The words we used to use represent the ideas we used to have, which, being anachronistic, and on that basis incorrect, are an inevitable faux pas in their current usage. The impact that these lexicographical missteps have is correlated with the extent to which inferences involving minimal scrutiny are predicted. Minimal scrutiny is what is expected from television audiences. Television is slave themed. It exhibits the symbols of slavery and bigotry in many dramatic or even comedic contexts. The television medium itself exists largely due to our compliance in referencing simple ideas in our purchasing habits.

When you are all done feeling sick to your stomachs about a word and some vague symbolism which was most likely brought to your attention more because Paula Deen is an easy target for jokes due to her weight/food choices, maybe we can approach honest discussion of real things?

Never mind, I was just thinking of the old the days of mefi, before the (censored) took over the internet. (Just replace censored with whatever racist comment you think that I was thinking, ok?)
posted by flyinghamster at 12:04 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some of the reactions people have to this story are understandable due to sloppy reporting. The first couple of stories I read said she had been asked if she ever used the word "nigger" and she said yes. That was it. I said to my wife "there has to be more to this" as she had read the same and it didn’t make sense to either of us. Context matters. Was she singing NWA lyrics? The stories I read didn’t specify.

Monster? That’s a little dramatic and self serving. She’s a mild racist and lives in a bubble, as we all do. I think she’s wrong, not evil. There’s a difference, it’s not black and white.
posted by bongo_x at 12:07 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


When you are all done feeling sick to your stomachs about a word and some vague symbolism

I'm sick to my stomach about the actual actions of Deen's brother, and Deen's failure as business owner to stop them once they were brought to her attention. Don't paint with such a broad brush and assume this issue is about mere words or even ideas.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:08 PM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


When you are all done feeling sick to your stomachs about a word and some vague symbolism which was most likely brought to your attention more because Paula Deen is an easy target for jokes due to her weight/food choices, maybe we can approach honest discussion of real things?

What the hell are you talking about? Do you really believe that this is because of her weight and not because a major media figure has been shown to be a hypocritical racist?
posted by item at 12:08 PM on June 22, 2013 [22 favorites]


Television is slave themed. It exhibits the symbols of slavery and bigotry in many dramatic or even comedic contexts.

Yeah, I'm gonna need a cite here, a modern one.
posted by item at 12:10 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm surprised no one's mentioned how Twitter jokesters went nuts over this during the past two days with #paulasbestdishes and #pauladeentvshows . The Root online magazine called the phenomenon, "playing the dozens via hashtag".
posted by fuse theorem at 12:10 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Never mind, I was just thinking of the old the days of mefi, before the (censored) took over the internet. (Just replace censored with whatever racist comment you think that I was thinking, ok?)

Also, I didn't know one could be passive-aggressive in an internet discussion thread, but that right there is masterful.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:10 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Context matters. Was she singing NWA lyrics? The stories I read didn’t specify.

Try the ones linked in this post.
posted by Houstonian at 12:10 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


nadawi: "it's the wide eyed ignorance with which she tells the blister story"

Yes, exactly. Deen says "I have a hard time thinking I did it out of meanness." Well golly gee willikers, ma'am, why do you think you did it? Out of fuckin' *kindness*?

Anyone with the tiniest shred of self-examination knows and will admit the times as a kid that he or she was a little dickhead. I was low on the pecking order in grade school, but I was cruel to the lower kids (in the same way that beat-down white folks will often be racist as hell just to prove they're not *the* bottom of the barrel). I know I was a jerk as a kid, and I'm not particularly self-aware.

Deen's blister story shows just how painfully un-self-aware she is. It's Dunning Kreuger levels of blissful ignorance. Hell, it's an aw-shucks down-home facade on top of Dick Cheney levels of self-unawareness.
posted by notsnot at 12:10 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


The impact that these lexicographical missteps have is correlated with the extent to which inferences involving minimal scrutiny are predicted.

Reframe, sir or madam!
posted by thinkpiece at 12:11 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The first couple of stories I read said she had been asked if she ever used the word "nigger" and she said yes.

To me it was that she said "yes, of course" and that she seemed to just take for granted that most jokes are inherently targeting a racial group. It speaks to a worldview.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:12 PM on June 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


really, seriously, for me (and a lot of people) it is not the word or when she used it or what the specific jokes were. the word made the headlines but it's not the whole story by a long shot. if you think someone said the word and we're all ready to banish her over only that you haven't read the links in the post or the comments here.
posted by nadawi at 12:13 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sometimes I wonder if the Klan's got some sort of über-successful recruitment program I'm not aware of.

In the next 5 days, possibly within 48 hours, the highest court in the land is widely expected to toss major parts of affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act into the trash. The Chief Justice spent a good part of his career attempting to do this, and at least one other Justice repeatedly says that discrimination is worse because we're not letting racists/misogynists/homophobes/etc in power sort it out for themselves. This follows the better part of a decade of minorities' rights being rolled back at every level of government in the name of "deregulation" and non-existent "fraud" all over the country, not just in the South (although they are the model for both the laws and the language). But because it's not officially active minority-bashing, it's all OK, as people like Deen seem to think.

The KKK doesn't need a recruitment program, they have a modern political movement and party to do it for them is what I'm saying.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:14 PM on June 22, 2013 [54 favorites]


flyinghamster: When you are all done feeling sick to your stomachs about a word and some vague symbolism

It's not symbolism, and it isn't vague. It's about as far from vague as you can get.

which was most likely brought to your attention more because Paula Deen is an easy target for jokes due to her weight/food choices, maybe we can approach honest discussion of real things?

There's plenty of honest discussion going on, and until you mentioned it, no one had commented on her weight. This has been "brought to our attention" because of the facts of the case, not whatever sideshow issues you seem to believe did it.

Never mind, I was just thinking of the old the days of mefi,

Oh, please, you joined in 2007.
posted by tzikeh at 12:14 PM on June 22, 2013 [21 favorites]


> Food Network Facebook Page Inundated With Angry Paula Deen Fans

Deen has that screaming-on-the-inside look particular to people who have to smile for a living.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:18 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Food Network Facebook Page Inundated With Angry Paula Deen Fans

Yeah, Food Network should never have allowed her to build up such a level of fame and tie her so closely to the network. At this point, whatever they do, they're going to end up offending a lot of people out there. That also makes me think of FN's other face and Mefi's favorite chef, Guy Fieri and his sexist and homophobic remarks he's made in the past.
posted by FJT at 12:26 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was actually a fan of hers, we even made her crab dip a few years back. Color me disappointed.

(side issue: Food Network will have to find another southern style chef now I guess. I know they have the Neelys, but I went to their place in Manhattan and was disappointed. )
posted by jonmc at 12:28 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


He even has a sign at the order window saying you must order in English.

それは人種差別行為?
posted by Tanizaki at 12:28 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Guy Fieri and his sexist and homophobic remarks he's made in the past.

I can't decide if his abrasive personality is the foil to distract us from his terrible food or vice versa.
posted by elizardbits at 12:29 PM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


I am reluctant to ask, but it's been bugging me:
Maybe she should/could have used the phrase my 94yo grandmother used when referring to colored persons: sugar baby
What? I think I'm missing something. I don't get what the etymology might be. Wouldn't "[something-that-is-not-white] baby" be more... I don't know, I don't want to say "appropriate" or anything like that, but more... uh... more... understa- no... uh... explicable?
posted by Flunkie at 12:30 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Careful, Flunkie. You might have trouble unsticking yourself from that one.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:34 PM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


What? I think I'm missing something. I don't get what the etymology might be. Wouldn't "[something-that-is-not-white] baby" be more... I don't know, I don't want to say "appropriate" or anything like that, but more... uh... more... understa- no... uh... explicable?


Sugar babies might be a more polite way of saying nigger babies, which some candy's used to be known as in the '40s and '50s.

Or it's just the usual connection between something dark colored (i.e. chocolate or licorice) and the darker skin of black people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:39 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or it's just the usual connection between something dark colored (i.e. chocolate or licorice) and the darker skin of black people.
But sugar is white. Is perhaps "sugar" also commonly used to mean "chocolate" or "licorice" in some regional variety of English that I'm not familiar with?
posted by Flunkie at 12:40 PM on June 22, 2013


also the candy "sugar babies" is brown - and i can see a thought process that goes from tar -> molasses -> sugar. there's a lot of ways to get to that term...
posted by nadawi at 12:42 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


flunkie - have you seen the sugar babies candy?
posted by nadawi at 12:43 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


sugar can be brown...

I really hate the food descriptions for non white skin in the first place - "mocha," "caramel," blah.

also the candy "sugar babies" is brown


yea.
posted by sweetkid at 12:43 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]



Sambo's is a restaurant, formerly an American restaurant chain, started in 1957 by Sam Battistone, Sr. and Newell Bohnett. Though the name was taken from portions of the names of its founders, the chain soon found itself associated with The Story of Little Black Sambo.


Associated? There were pictures around the top of the walls showing the story of Little Black Sambo in the Sambo's pancake restaurant I recall from my childhood. I seem to remember though that "Sambo" was an Indian-subcontinent child with a turban (who tangled with a tiger), not a US Af-Amer.
posted by telstar at 12:46 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


sugar can be brown...
Oh, that's true. I guess I think of white sugar as being much more common, though, and typically wouldn't refer to brown sugar as just plain "sugar", whereas I'm not actually sure that I've ever used the phrase "white sugar" before this very post.

Again, is just plain "sugar" meaning "brown sugar" a regionalism I'm not familiar with? Or perhaps a usage that used to be more popular than it is today?
posted by Flunkie at 12:46 PM on June 22, 2013


omg - i just took a look at facebook comments posted up thread - and i just have to say that "conscrewed" is my new favorite misspelling/mishearing of a word.
posted by nadawi at 12:47 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


the outrage I'm seeing around this.. It rings hollow. Like people putting dots in obit threads or something. I really can't see tearing her down over the quoted passage.

There is a whole Joe Paterno thing going on with how she is protecting her brother. I mean this here is some truly offensive shit:
According to the complaint, Jackson began working for Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, a restaurant run by Hiers, in early 2005 and left in August 2010 due to the inappropriate behavior she said she was subjected to in her time there. In the deposition, Deen said she owns half of the corporation that operates Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House. Jackson also said she did some other work for Deen’s company and a restaurant she runs. The complaint alleged “racially discriminatory attitudes pervade” Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House where Jackson claimed African-American employees were required to use separate bathrooms and entrances from white staffers. Jackson also said African-Americans were held to “different, more stringent, standards” than whites at the restaurant and that Hiers regularly made offensive racial remarks.
So she should be called to account for that. But some Food Network "celebrity" admitting she uses the word nigger occasionally?
Of course I've never said that word, I've never said fuck either, or cunt or bitch or fag.

And yes, that story about her abusing the other girl when she was 10, that is creepy. Specifically the part where she isn't able to admit that it was a cruel horrible thing to do, and that she doesn't see how fucked up the situation that followed was.

Outrage over racist jokes told privately (not talking about her brother here, talking about her)? I guess it comes from the same place as "NSFW" warnings when no pubes and no nipples are visible. She doesn't sound like somebody I'd like, she doesn't sound like somebody I'd watch, but the reaction feels disingenuous to me.
posted by Chuckles at 12:50 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


One headline that I'd love to see any moment now, and which would go a long way toward redeeming her in my mind:
PAULA DEEN TO SUPPORTERS: STOP HELPING ME
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:50 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


I seem to remember though that "Sambo" was an Indian-subcontinent child with a turban (who tangled with a tiger), not a US Af-Amer.

Huh. The only etymology of the term I'm familiar with is the word "zambo" which is a colonialist spanish (maybe portuguese?) term denoting a mixed race person of african and native american descent.
posted by elizardbits at 12:51 PM on June 22, 2013


I really can't see tearing her down over the quoted passage.

it's almost as if there's more to the story than the headline making part...
posted by nadawi at 12:52 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


There were pictures around the top of the walls showing the story of Little Black Sambo in the Sambo's pancake restaurant I recall from my childhood. I seem to remember though that "Sambo" was an Indian-subcontinent child with a turban (who tangled with a tiger), not a US Af-Amer.

As a kid I always associated it with The Jungle Book. I loved sitting at the counter so I could look at all the pictures.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:53 PM on June 22, 2013


(I mean, yes, I'm aware of the story of "little black sambo" but I thought it was derived from the same source)
posted by elizardbits at 12:53 PM on June 22, 2013


sigh... yes, long-time reader, and yes, I have been a member for 5 years, ages in internet time, and long enough to witness substantial chaos.

i read the articles and the comments, and trudged through the testimony. i made a comment, myself, based on a number of things.

but i must not understand the 'real issue' going on... because quite frankly, i can't. i am still a human being, and it is hard to get over how ill i feel upon reading some of the comments made here. i have enormous compassion for paula deen who has courage to be honest and carry on despite constant mocking.
posted by flyinghamster at 12:54 PM on June 22, 2013


one of the other things that has been bothering me, again beyond the word, is that when asked when she might of used it she told a story about a black man putting a gun to her head a long time ago - like, she was searching for examples that excused it - how she was justified - a certain air of "how dare you question me on this - a black man did a bad thing to me once!"

ugh to her and ugh to her defenders and ugh to the people who say we're pretending to be offended.
posted by nadawi at 12:56 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


For what it's worth, here is Helen Bannerman's 1899 story of Little Black Sambo.
posted by Longtime Listener at 12:56 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pointing out that a thing that someone said or did is a racist thing to say or do is not "constant mocking".
posted by elizardbits at 12:57 PM on June 22, 2013 [36 favorites]


I seem to remember though that "Sambo" was an Indian-subcontinent child with a turban (who tangled with a tiger), not a US Af-Amer.

Sort of. He tangled with a tiger in the jungle, and later art showed him in a turban, but the original art was sort of a "gollywog" style used mainly to caricature African Americans.
posted by tyllwin at 12:57 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


choices, maybe we can approach honest discussion of real things?

I don't think the South is ready for an honest discussion about slavery and plantation society. Maybe give it another 100 years.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:58 PM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


i have enormous compassion for paula deen who has courage to be honest and carry on despite constant mocking.

what on earth
posted by sweetkid at 12:59 PM on June 22, 2013 [32 favorites]


i didn't realize the south was a singular entity that had conversations as a group collective...you might be thinking of the borg. it's an easy mistake to make.
posted by nadawi at 1:01 PM on June 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


I seem to remember though that "Sambo" was an Indian-subcontinent child with a turban (who tangled with a tiger), not a US Af-Amer.

My grandparents had the children's book version of "Little Black Sambo," and it was a total blackface caricature (like this) of a boy being chased by tigers, eventually running around a tree so fast he (or they, can't remember) turned into butter. Terribly racist, as I realized when I discovered it again years later. (And my grandfather was a minister!) But even through the racist WTF, I remember thinking "tigers? why tigers?" Perhaps the story is Indian in origin; this would explain the tigers.

This children's book was not a rare tome. Sambo's restaurant was TOTALLY themed on Little Black Sambo.

(and now that I think about it, why butter?)

[on non-preview: Longtime Listener's link to the original story is indeed the one I was thinking of. In a...vividly...illustrated presentation.]
posted by LooseFilter at 1:02 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


You all know about garbage in, garbage and that it doesn't apply only to computers. Think what a Southern woman heard in her formative years. It is still in her memory. Her parents and society taught her to discriminate. Disclaimer: I have never seen her show, and agree with those who think firing her is CYA by the network.
posted by Cranberry at 1:02 PM on June 22, 2013


I don't think the South is ready for an honest discussion about slavery and plantation society. Maybe give it another 100 years.

I understand that it’s OK when you make sweeping negative generalizations about groups of people, you’re on the side of Right. I wonder if other people feel like that?
posted by bongo_x at 1:03 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Enormous compassion for Paula Deen! I've heard everything! She's been pushing poison for years, with nary a thought to the impact her recipes and food choices have on the health of the children in states with the highest obesity rates in the nation, including hers. She's been cackling and screeching all the way to the bank, and since the second I laid eyes on her, heard her, I couldn't grab the remote or turn the page or click fast enough. Disingenuous oozes from her. Her apology videos are, ugh, desperate.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:03 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's almost as if there's more to the story than the headline making part...

So why are we stuck talking about the meaningless headline?

I don't think the South is ready for an honest discussion about slavery and plantation society. Maybe give it another 100 years.

That might just be MetaFilter's problem too, I guess :)

Yeah, Food Network should never have allowed her to build up such a level of fame and tie her so closely to the network. At this point, whatever they do, they're going to end up offending a lot of people out there. That also makes me think of FN's other face and Mefi's favorite chef, Guy Fieri and his sexist and homophobic remarks he's made in the past.

I do wonder how anybody watches Food Network, but my mom is addicted to the stuff. She is pretty picky about who she'll watch though..
posted by Chuckles at 1:04 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


i am still a human being, and it is hard to get over how ill i feel upon reading some of the comments made here. i have enormous compassion for paula deen black folks who has need to have courage to be honest and to carry on despite constant mocking the stubborn persistence of vile racism into the 21st century.

FTFY, FFS
posted by R. Schlock at 1:05 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is why smarter celebrities settle lawsuits.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:06 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


So why are we stuck talking about the meaningless headline?

we aren't? there's quite a bit of discussion here about lots of stuff besides her joke vocabulary.
posted by nadawi at 1:06 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have to agree, it's intellectually lazy to attack people for doing racist things from behind the comfort of our computer screens. The real heroes are those who get out there in public and say what's on their minds even if it happens to be super racist, and who can still hold their heads up high despite all the negativity hurled at thhahahaha I'm sorry I can't
posted by en forme de poire at 1:07 PM on June 22, 2013 [31 favorites]


i am no longer going to be posting on mefi because of the prevalent racism.

i even bought a shirt, oh well.
posted by flyinghamster at 1:07 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is why smarter celebrities settle lawsuits.

Yeah, I'm surprised she didn't settle just to avoid the deposition. Her lawyers had to know she'd be asked about this sort of thing.
posted by Area Man at 1:08 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah Sambo's was real place when I was a child in the 70s in Massachusetts. We'd go there often for family meals. And agreed, it was like a Denny's, so much that my first encounter with Denny's in Florida was basically "this is like Sambo's, okay, except with no theme."
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:09 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


i didn't realize the south was a singular entity that had conversations as a group collective...


Sorry, that was a really awful comment. I don't think most Americans, to use another over generalization, have thought that much about America's roots in slavery and plantation society. African American history seems to have been practically deleted from our history books, and I think this may have something to do with explaining how this sort of racism persists.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:10 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]



African American history seems to have been practically deleted from our history books

"Deleted" seems to imply that it was there in the first place.
posted by sweetkid at 1:12 PM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


I favorited a few things higher up in the discussion that had a common theme of "Paula Deen is from the south, and from a different time; As a southerner, I've known plenty of people who said racist things -- older relatives, etc..."

I wondered if maybe it was in the vein of "good ol' boy" racism that I have encountered over the course of my life, among similar types of people. Sure, that sort of racism is abhorrent and disgusting, but it is very "garden variety" to me.

It wasn't. The complaint that was linked to here contains some of the most disgusting treatment of African-Americans and women I've ever read.

Thanks, The Real Dan, for posting this. This woman deserves no sympathy.
posted by nohaybanda at 1:13 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


i could totally agree with that, Golden Eternity - i will say that as a life long southerner, i've given the topic a lot of thought. watching how the teaching of slavery/segregation focused on the rightness (or justified wrongness) of the south gave me an early critical eye for "facts" in textbooks. i think there are quite a few people like me and i don't think it's easy to draw geographic borders around people who take bigotry in and either accept it or reject it.

thank you for revisiting your intent with your comment.
posted by nadawi at 1:16 PM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


flyinghamster: i am no longer going to posting on mefi because of the prevalent racism

It's true, MeFi is a hotbed of disgruntled KKK members, failed BNP candidates for the European Parliament and German neo-nazis stifled by the fact that they're not allowed to fly the swastika in the Potsdamer Platz, and we all express our frustrations by posting about how much we hate ethnic minorities on MeFi. Indeed, at this point in time, I've given up on plotting to firebomb the local curry house in favour of being an obnoxious dickhead on the internet.
posted by Len at 1:17 PM on June 22, 2013 [15 favorites]


Yeah, flyinghamster seems to be posting from an alt-universe where we all have goatees.
posted by Justinian at 1:19 PM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]



It wasn't. The complaint that was linked to here contains some of the most disgusting treatment of African-Americans and women I've ever read
.

Yeah. How can you have compassion for Paula Deen, her brother, etc after reading that.
posted by sweetkid at 1:19 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


So I searched flyinghamster in this thread and read all the comments and the responses and I don't understand his argument or why he is upset. Can someone explain to me what's going on?
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 1:28 PM on June 22, 2013


i am no longer going to be posting on mefi because of the prevalent racism.

i even bought a shirt, oh well.


Is this some kind of performance art?
posted by kmz at 1:28 PM on June 22, 2013 [16 favorites]


i didn't realize the south was a singular entity that had conversations as a group collective...you might be thinking of the borg. it's an easy mistake to make.
posted by nadawi


Growing up in the South you quickly learn that you are, in fact, one entity, completely inseparable from each other. I don't know much, but I'm confident of three things:

1. The South has a LONG way to go. Despite what you might read in this thread, it's gotten better, but no where near where we need to be.

B.. Racism is EVERYWHERE. I've done a lot of traveling in the states, and anyone that is quick to point out racism as being a Southern thing should probably work on erasing the racism in their own neck of the woods first.

III. If it takes the South 100 years to rid the region of blatant racism that is an embarrassment for the entire region, it will take another 100 years for the act of condemning everyone that lives in the South as racist and backwards the minute one person shows their ignorance to vanish.

So 200 years from now I'll be happy... and dead.
posted by justgary at 1:32 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah. How can you have compassion for Paula Deen, her brother, etc after reading that.

I really didn't know what I thought about all the discussion here and the media hoopla. It wasn't something I was really trying to think about to hard. Then I read the complaint and it pretty much pushed me into the I have little sympathy for what is going on direction. I expect that if the FN read that complaint, even with it only being one side of the story would be enough to declare her and her extended business interests a hot potato that they just don't want to try handling.

It is disgusting even if only half of it is true.
posted by Jalliah at 1:32 PM on June 22, 2013


Ooohhh....I think I get it now.

Flyinghamster I think people are making fun of her weight not because she's fat but because she's fat and offers food/cooking advice as if she knows what the hell she's talking about. Plus she's a racist. It's like if someone believes that the earth is flat published a book on quantum physics and expected to be taken seriously. When the racism comes out (the flat earther also believes in lizard people) it seems a return to form of not being able to properly cogitate reality. At least that's the way I approach my thinking of her and this situation.

Oh and when I say "fat" I mean "type 2 diabetes obese" which is a direct result of her cooking style which, if practiced, makes human beings fat and sick. So, yeah, "fat" as in "spreading the disease" fat.

tl;dr dumb people going to dumb.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 1:36 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


That complaint makes some reading; as a business this restaurant would fit in at least as well in Ukraine as the American south. Even apart from the harassment and abuse charges this Bubba Hiers seems like an incredible piece of work. And what a great goddamn name he has given the topic of throwback racism.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:36 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


the reason that i defend myself should be obvious. i hold a minority opinion in these comments. the reason i will not contribute in the future to mefi threads is due to other posters' personal hostility. i joined the site with an assumption that it was too peripheral to become another medium for personal attacks.

discrimination based on skin or gender is not ethical or legal. i feel strongly about this. trash-talking paula deen is a disservice to the actual case as it is presented. how much blame is her brother, the main offender in almost every incident, getting in comparison to paula deen herself? every negative word about paula deen is an obfuscation of the primary unethical party indicated by the evidence in the court documents.
posted by flyinghamster at 1:37 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


For those who don't feel like reading the complaint, or might think that this should be solely about Bubba's (Paula Deen's brother) issues and attitudes --
Paula Deen placed Ms. Jackson in charge of food and serving arrangements for the wedding of her brother Bubba Hiers in February 2007. When Ms. Jackson asked Ms. Deen what look the wedding should have, Ms. Deen replied, "I want a true southern plantation-style wedding." Asked by Ms. Jackson what type of uniforms she preferred servers to wear, Paula Deen stated, "Well what I would really like is a bunch of little niggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around." Paula Deen laughed and said "Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn't it? But we can't do that because the media would be on me about that." (emphasis mine)
Yes. That's why you can't do that.
posted by tzikeh at 1:39 PM on June 22, 2013 [17 favorites]


she is the owner of the establishment, she condoned his actions, she has plenty of dirt on her hands, he is only employed because of her, and she was able to do that because of her massive media empire - doesn't seem to be obscuring the unethical party at all.

as to your weird allegations about the community, i don't think i'm alone when i say whatever you're complaining about isn't immediately obvious. you have failed to really make your point and then got mad that none of us understood you.
posted by nadawi at 1:41 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]



Flyinghamster, while it seems to be true that the majority of the complaints are directed at her brother, the document also made it clear that the business interests as a whole were centrally directed by the family and that Deen was involved in that.

I suppose you could make an argument that she was pretty clueless to all of it going on and in that way is innocent due to ignorance but from what I know about her as a business person, beyond what is stated in the documents makes it pretty hard to believe that she is/was that ignorant.

It's a family company. Deen may be the celebrity face that is easy for people to relate to and is getting more flack. It's her company and her responsibility. She was called in to testify for a reason.
posted by Jalliah at 1:43 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Morgan Freeman:

Gates: What is it about the South that is different for a black person
than the North or the West?

Freeman: I think we built the South and we know it. ..... Traveling around the country and living in different places I could never see that any place was better racially than Mississippi.

Gates: You never experienced racism as a kid in the South?

Freeman: Yes, of course I did. That's not the point. .... You aren't going to find any less racism in the North. It's going to be more insidious and more painful. Because you are given to think, "Oh, it's different here."

posted by justgary at 1:43 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


for those who are disinclined to just believe a complaint, please refer to the original post or back to a previous comment i made, which is paula deen's own telling and still wholly damning.
posted by nadawi at 1:44 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


How can you have compassion for Paula Deen, her brother, etc after reading that.

I try to have compassion for everybody, including people who have done things far worse than what Deen has admitted or been accused of. "There but for the grace of God..." Not to derail too far, but you want a real mindtwist? Forget about Paula Deen and Bubba Hiers, and try feeling compassion when somebody has harmed you in such a justifiable-homicide-as-a-response kind of way.

Compassion is one lofty, complex m#%$-f@! concept. I'll let you know in forty or fifty years if I've mastered it, but I do feel like trying helps me to be a better person.

This is why smarter celebrities settle lawsuits.

Yeah, it's a little bizarre. You wonder if Food Network had a clause in Deen's contract about treatment of potential lawsuits. If not, surely they will from now on. I suggested upthread the network might not be heartbroken to stop paying Deen's salary, but surely this isn't how they wanted it to happen. It hurts their properties.
posted by cribcage at 1:44 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


She didn't settle because she is arrogant and believes she is insulated from consequences as a result of her money and celebrity. She believed she could front and win, that her jus' folks shtick would neutralize her racism, and help her shuck and jive away her brother's crime.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:54 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


flyinghamster, I think the point that Paula Deen's brother should be a bigger part of the conversation here may have some merit, though as others have pointed out I would disagree that Paula Deen herself is just a minor player here, or that her own comments aren't shockingly racist. However, as far as I can tell, that's pretty different from the point that you were originally making.

Also, with respect to personal insults, while I thought what you have been saying in this thread has been pretty out-there in WTF-land and I don't apologize for criticizing it, I want to be clear that I don't hold you any personal ill will. I really don't know anything about you other than what you've posted here, and I think I probably agree strongly with you about racial discrimination.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:54 PM on June 22, 2013


I just read the text of the complaint.

I don't think there's any need to argue with the Deen defenders. Anyone who could read that complaint and then wonder why people are angry at Paula Deen and all the management of the Deen family of businesses, well, there really isn't anything to say to them.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:57 PM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


Think what a Southern woman heard in her formative years. It is still in her memory. Her parents and society taught her to discriminate.


Look, I heard all that in MY formative years and worse. My parents were racist, their friends were racist, etc. etc.

I have NEVER been racist. It made my stomach turn then, and it makes it turn now. Yes, she grew up with that, it was the default in our society, but she is responsible for her attitudes and words NOW.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:57 PM on June 22, 2013 [19 favorites]


それは人種差別行為?

If you follow the link you'll see that it is.
posted by scalefree at 1:58 PM on June 22, 2013


Anyone who could read that complaint and then wonder why people are angry at Paula Deen...

No, that's not the way it works. Anybody can allege anything in a complaint. If a complaint were all it took to prove guilt, we wouldn't need to bother with all that other court stuff. What condemns Paula Deen is her own testimony.
posted by Longtime Listener at 2:03 PM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Did I miss the part where complaint = facts?
posted by ambient2 at 2:20 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


If 30 60+-year-old well-intentioned, intelligent, small-town white Southern women registered for your "Please make me not be a racist" workshop, what would you teach them?

Look, I don't want to watch Paula Deen on TV, and I guess it comforts me to know that other people won't be exposed to her either -- but she's a hard-working person who probably wants to make other people happy and doesn't feel a lot of hate. What do we do with people like that if we don't want to just tell them "don't bother"?
posted by amtho at 2:28 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


> No, that's not the way it works. Anybody can allege anything in a complaint.

> Did I miss the part where complaint = facts?


JESUS, yes, I fully understand it COULD be a pack of lies. Yes, I understand how courts and the legal system work extremely well. Yes, I understand that this is just a complaint.

But did you read it? Did you read the supporting material? Yes, this isn't "legal" until a court rules on it - but what is your opinion of the accuracy of the complaint itself and the other supporting material?

We're not a court here - what's your best judgement?

It baffles me that so many people can apparently read all of this material and say either, "Well, I have no strong opinion on whether this is true," or even, "Paula Deen is being persecuted."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:29 PM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


all you have to do is read her own words - her own descriptions of the events - to come to the conclusions many have reached. i don't understand why people keep insisting this is some sort of smear job. she admits fully to wanting to hire black people to play slaves for her darling antebellum party. she thinks that a good portion of humor has to include racial insults. she bust open her nanny's daughter's blisters for shits and giggles (and then told all of us that story later). she's super sad the slaves didn't stick around to help her ancestor on his plantation.

i am inclined to believe the complaint just because deen's own (and to her, favorable) telling of it is so bad. but you don't have to believe the complaint to think she's pretty freaking racist.

and the idea that this is some sort of aw shucks racism is so gross - she's worth multiple millions of dollars. her and her family own multiple restaurants and she has written multiple books. she employes a lot of people. one wonders how she treats the ones who aren't white. one wonders what the management structures look like at her various businesses.

one of my favorite details from this is that it's a white employee bringing the lawsuit - paula deen thought she was in safe company to spew her bullshit, but you can't judge people on their skin color - something she really doesn't understand.
posted by nadawi at 2:45 PM on June 22, 2013 [28 favorites]


I saw this somewhere else as a proposed NY Post headline:

Butter Nut Squashed.

She's despicable. But I do worry that she so fits the classic racist profile that she once again makes it easier for the rest of us to feel righteous without much cause.

When George Zimmerman is convicted and sent to jail and public opinion is as united as it is in opposition to Deen, I'll be impressed with how far America has come.
posted by spitbull at 2:47 PM on June 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm late to the thread so forgive the re-derail. (Is that even a word?) I was born in 74, the year Blazing Saddles was released. I saw it when I was young (7 maybe 8) and loved it. I was raised with Mel Brooks movies, but this movie in particular has one of my favorite throwaway moments. Gene Wilder refuses food and then gulps down a bottle of "red eye." Cleavon Little says "A man does not eat and drinks like that? He is going to die soon." And Gene Wilder looks at him and says "When?" It's a great comedy because even the little moments are so well done.

I disagree with people saying you shouldn't show it to your kids until they are older or maybe not at all. It's pretty obviously mocking racism from the first scene when Cleavon Little leads his fellow railroad workers into a lovely acapella version of "I get no kick from champagne" while the white overseers totally make asses of themselves singing "The Camptown Ladies." While there's a lot of comedy, the movie has some vital messages about corporate greed pairing with politics and the importance of inclusivity in a community. I'd say the message is still very important and accessible.To me, the hardest thing to explain would be Lily von Schtup and her song. (I didn't get the reference FOR YEARS, I still thought it was funny though.)

(ends re-derail)
posted by miss-lapin at 2:47 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also, can we please please call Dave Chapelle to the microphone for his commentary on this?
posted by spitbull at 2:48 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lupus_yonderboy: I said what condemns her is her own testimony, not the complaint. What part of "condemn" makes you think I have no opinion or that I think Paula Deen is being persecuted?

I've seen enough court cases to know better than to take a complaint at face value. Some of them turn out to be dead-on accurate. Some turn out to be fiction. Many turn out to be somewhere in between. I can't read a complaint and offer much of an opinion of its accuracy unless its contents seem self-contradictory. So, yes, we go on to the supporting material, including Deen's own testimony. Her testimony makes her look racist, and clueless about why that's so bad as long as she doesn't say things in a mean way.

I have some sympathy for people who need to unlearn crap that they were taught in their formative years. I'm still discovering things I need to unlearn. It's especially hard when you live in a culture that keeps reinforcing the very thing you need to untangle from your brain. It can take years, and that's if you are trying. Deen doesn't seem to be trying too hard. I hope getting kicked off the network is the cold splash of water that makes her take a good look at herself.
posted by Longtime Listener at 2:51 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that oftentimes, when a story involving both racism and the south is making headlines, there are always a few comments made by people from the south asking everyone, essentially, not to rush to judgement. This can range in tone, all the way from people who sound legitimately worried that they'll be judged guilty by association in a way that they don't deserve, to people who sound like they've got a pretty damn big chip on their shoulder about the whole thing, like they were just waiting for the next time somebody spoke dismissively of the place they came from.

This whole Paula Deen story has prompted a little bit of the same range of responses, and it's really got me thinking, because I've making fun of her for years. The main incentive for this is that it annoys my mother-in-law, who is a big fan, but as I said in the recent thread about the KKK member, it's also kind of rooted in my suspicion that Deen has hugely exaggerated her own dialect in order to foster a certain kind of media persona.

As this story has developed, I've tried to figure out: so what? I mean, why would that bother me, even if it was true? And all I've come with in answer is that I'm not aware of any other part of the US that people are prone to brag about coming from. Like, I don't hear people going on and on about the proud traditions of their ancestors in Wyoming. NYC, maybe, is prone to that sort of geographically-based loudmouthed combination of pride and grievance, but not nearly to the same extent.

And so, to the people in the South who are hurt to hear their home besmirched, I want to say: I know that not everybody down there is racist. Heck, I know that not everybody white down there is racist. I've got relatives down there who aren't. But to an outsider, making a big production out of your Southern heritage tends to sound like nostalgia for a pretty fucked up way of life.

I know that isn't always what it is, but in this case, for Paula Deen, it seems like that's exactly what it was. It's so goddamn on the nose that I almost can't believe it.
posted by Ipsifendus at 2:59 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


If 30 60+-year-old well-intentioned, intelligent, small-town white Southern women registered for your "Please make me not be a racist" workshop, what would you teach them?

Yeah, so, this is my entire adult life as a native southerner who moved north but still has family and friends in the south whom I visit several times a year.

Popular thoughts expressed by me to my racist family members, pretty much constantly:

It's not OK to use racial slurs ever for any reason, even if it's "just a joke" or in private.

Even if you know a member of Group X who thinks that slurs used to describe Group X are no big deal, it STILL isn't OK to use them.

"[Important person in my life] is [a member of Group X]. It really offends me when you talk that way about [members of Group X]."

Oriental is a rug, not a person.

It really offended my friend Y when you asked him intrusive questions about his race/religion in front of everyone. It's not polite to talk about race or religion at the dinner table.

You know how you would be offended if a stranger asked you how much money you make? That's how other people feel when you ask them where they're really from or if their parents are illegal immigrants or compliment how articulate they are or tell them you "don't see color".

There's also lots of blatant non-laughing and fake-dumb "wait I don't get it..." at bigoted jokes.

Also lots of just plain sticking up for the side of not being racist in conversations about race. I remember a relative expressing worry that I'd have biracial kids someday, and whether it would be right to bring such children into the world because they would never "belong" anywhere and be hated by everyone. I just set them straight about how there are lots of biracial people who grow up to be perfectly normal* and not universally reviled by all humanity, and lots of places in the world where nobody cares about that.

A lot of the time, just hearing that racism is not the default setting can be a big teachable moment for people who've built their entire framework around it.

*"The president is biracial, and he seems to have done OK in life!" is a popular favorite nowadays, though I face the conversation less than I did when I was dating a non-white person a couple years ago.
posted by Sara C. at 3:14 PM on June 22, 2013 [16 favorites]


And all I've come with in answer is that I'm not aware of any other part of the US that people are prone to brag about coming from.

Texas, California, and the NYC tri-state metro area come to mind.

I actually remember arriving at college orientation week, and being in some kick-off assembly where the res life staff were all "WHO'S FROM THE EAST COAST????" and "WHO'S FROM THE WEST COAST???" and everyone was bonding over that and I felt really left out, being from neither coast.

So, yeah, of course regional boosterism exists in the US, and it's by no means limited to the South.

That said, I think white culture the South has a monopoly on this idea that this sense of regional boosterism is sacred protected "heritage" never to be questioned at all under any circumstances or allowed to change in any way. And, to me, as a southerner, I'm pretty sure the legacy of racism has a lot to do with that. For most other people, it's more like, "JERSEY SHORE IN THE HOUSE!!!!" or bickering about whose burritos are better, not threatening to secede over how closely the state flag is allowed to resemble the flag of some slave-owning traitors.
posted by Sara C. at 3:20 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Next you're going to tell me that there really was an airline called Top Banana and they had yellow airplanes, right?"

Hughes AirWest was the Top Banana in the West.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:26 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did you know my last name ends in a vowel? You would if I spelled out what comes after the D.

Did you know my father was from Sicily and my mother from Calabria?

No you didn't, but I do.

Did you know I left the gun and took the cannoli?

I've never had a gun and I haven't had cannoli in years

Did you know My friend's name starts with O'?

No, he's not an alcoholic, and he was never in a fight in his life

Did you know my friend's name ends in ski? He's not very bright you say?

He's a retired professor who taught at a major university.

Can we now get around to the ethnicities its still okay to spout stupid jokes and stereotypes about?

(end derail)
posted by tommyD at 5:11 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


probably none unless it is the joke-maker's own
posted by elizardbits at 5:14 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


When George Zimmerman is convicted and sent to jail and public opinion is as united as it is in opposition to Deen, I'll be impressed with how far America has come.

Where were you a few weeks ago before jury selection? You could have saved them all a lot of time.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:28 PM on June 22, 2013


I'm spending the weekend visiting family in the south (Arkansas) and it's been cringeworthy to sit at the nursing home dining room watching the Paula Deen thing on TV while black CNAs feed old white people. I'm creeped out by how many of the black staff at my grandmother's nursing home call her "Miss Betty." Especially knowing how racist she was before she ended up being taken care of almost exclusively by black women. The (mostly black) staff at my hotel is also much more deferential to me than service workers at home. I don't know how to react to it at all. It's a different world here.
posted by desjardins at 5:35 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


To me, her monetizing of her diabetes is more vile than her private racist joking-around. I think it's possible for people to tell racist jokes but still be fundamentally decent in their dealings with people of different ethnicities (although I know nothing about her, so maybe she treats people awfully, too).

But for her to promote unhealthy foods to an adoring public, and then when eating said unhealthy foods causes a bad health condition, for her to think "gee, let's see how I can profit off of this ... since fans of my food are likely to have this condition ..." -- well, that's just being unabashedly evil.
posted by Unified Theory at 5:39 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


although I know nothing about her, so maybe she treats people awfully, too

Did you read the complaint? It alleges, among other things, that Paula Deen knew that the female general manager (Lisa Jackson) of her restaurant was being subjected to: porn coming in on her shared email account with the co-owner (Deen's brother), porn distributed at staff meetings, being paid less than male staff members with similar responsibility, being shut down every time she asked for more money (because Deen's nephew would object), being told that women shouldn't make more money than men, sexist jokes about blow-jobs, and an inability to find anyone in management, including Paula Deen, who would take her complaints about subjecting her supervisees to racist, sexist, and just plain odious conditions (like black staff members being forced to use the back door and being fired from the front of the house) seriously.

The suit very much alleges that Paula Deen treats people awfully. Not as awfully as her brother does, probably, but still... awfully. In most US companies, an owner who hears complaints about sexual and racial harassment but chooses to do nothing is liable. Paula Deen should be held liable for these complaints.
posted by jaguar at 5:48 PM on June 22, 2013 [15 favorites]


John Oliver Savages Paula Deen Over ‘N-Word’ Controversy: She Might Just Be Suffering From Type-Two Racism
posted by homunculus at 5:52 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this is not about one word, a few tasteless jokes or "kind-hearted" racism - this is about enabling an environment of flat out ugly treatment of employees (as alleged in the complaint).
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:08 PM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


When George Zimmerman is convicted and sent to jail and public opinion is as united as it is in opposition to Deen, I'll be impressed with how far America has come.

You might want to wait until after GZ's trial before talking like that. Presumption of innocence and all that. For form's sake, if nothing else.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:52 PM on June 22, 2013


Paula Deen fired from the Food Network? Would this be a case of... Just desserts?
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:14 PM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Would this be a case of... Just desserts?

Close the thread up guys
posted by en forme de poire at 7:20 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Joey Michaels: Would this be a case of... Just desserts?

en forme de poire: Close the thread up guys

For an eggcorn? Not on MetaFilter, we won't.
posted by tzikeh at 7:23 PM on June 22, 2013


Yes, she grew up with that, it was the default in our society, but she is responsible for her attitudes and words NOW.

This is the wonderful moment where I get to fully agree with St. Alia. I hail from the swampy fug of Beaumont, TX. My father grew up there amid open racists who were otherwise the salt of the earth. He grew up in a segregated world, with black people working as house servants and expected to be second-class citizens, calling Brazil nuts "n- toes" and all the rest of that crap. He is the same age as Paula Deen, and imbibed the same lessons and tropes. He is now an avowed anti-racist and has been since he became an adult in 1966 or so.

There is no excuse, folks. All Americans have had a mass media for some time. They have had access to the arguments for and against racism, and have had the opportunity to become extremely well versed in racial politics, should they choose to. If anything, people who want to remain racist and provide themselves some cover pull this mantle of "oh, but it's just my Southern culture" over themselves as a protective membrane. Well, puncture it. They've had the same opportunity to observe, think, and make decisions as the rest of America had over the last half century. They have made personal choices within that matrix, and they can be held fully accountable for those choices, no matter what their individual context was growing up. This excuse was the one their parents' generation used, and it's getting pretty darn thin for people who were teens into the 1960s and simply cannot claim that their unthinking racism was just normal and accepted. They knew it was not acceptable when they personally witnessed civil rights and anti-lynching campaigns coming to their schools and cities.

Paula Deen's style is part of the problem. She willingly took her place as part of the problem, because she had a wonderful slot in the power structure and it was working for her. It's completely fine to expect her to own up to that.
posted by Miko at 7:35 PM on June 22, 2013 [16 favorites]


In Savannah, Many Defend Paula Deen from Critics
posted by Miko at 7:47 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this is not about one word, a few tasteless jokes or "kind-hearted" racism - this is about enabling an environment of flat out ugly treatment of employees (as alleged in the complaint).

I think it almost goes without saying that anyone of her stature in her line of work is going to be an awful, awful, awful human being. I mean, how could they not be? Fuck Paula Deen, even the fucking name makes my flesh crawl. I hope she dies in obscurity and disgrace.
posted by Unified Theory at 8:42 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it was the second apology video that was shot in a kind of nondescript office with a paper towel roll in the background and maybe a soft drink can? I thought that was so funny and interesting. It kind of revealed the panicked nature of Deen's apologetic YouTube warblings. Nobody could be bothered to remove the detritus from the background?
posted by Unified Theory at 8:48 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


my suspicion that Deen has hugely exaggerated her own dialect in order to foster a certain kind of media persona.

You are not alone. I'm from Georgia and I've always thought she lays it on a little thick. Actually, y'awl, a lot thee-uck, y'awl. She's not so down home that she doesn't know the word "schtick," I'm betting.


I'm creeped out by how many of the black staff at my grandmother's nursing home call her "Miss Betty."

Don't be. It's not a racial thing, at least not mostly. It's more an age thing. It's just the dialect. They'd call a black woman "Miss (firstname)" too, and so would young white workers.
posted by tyllwin at 9:14 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think it almost goes without saying that anyone of her stature in her line of work is going to be an awful, awful, awful human being. I mean, how could they not be?

I actually work for someone who, while not at Paula Deen level quite yet, is sort of on the path to becoming that kind of public figure.

My boss has her issues, as does everyone on the planet, but she's good people. As an employee I feel that I'm treated fairly, and if she's a virulent racist it's very well hidden.

I've known plenty of people who are on TV for a living, and it's the same spread of good people vs. dicks as any other field.
posted by Sara C. at 9:25 PM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think it's hard for people not from The South to understand this kind of paternal, kind-hearted racism.

So the whole Uncle Tom's Cabin thing isn't standard fair in schools in the States?
posted by juiceCake at 9:53 PM on June 22, 2013


It's not standard fare or standard or fair, no, though our state fair is a great (or at least fair) state fair.
posted by item at 10:46 PM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


"eenie meanie miney moe..."

I honestly never knew that this rhyme led to the n-word. That is not how I learned it.

I'm horrified to be anywhere near the rhyme. And then I read this:

Sambo's was definitely real. I ate there as a child. They were like a Denny's, and a good place for pancakes. They had this picture painted on the wall, of a little Indian child (Sambo was from South India) eating pancakes with a tiger. You'd probably remember that painting if you were there as a kid.


...and I realize that I learned the rhyme this way: eenie meanie miney moe, catch a tiger by the toe...

And at the mention of Denny's being just like Sambo's minus the theme, I recall that Denny's had to pay out $54 million to settle a racial bias suit in the 1990's. they required black customers to pay before getting their meals, charged them more, and gave them longer wait times.

I know racism exists. I know a lot of it is hidden and unspoken, ... but until this moment, I didn't understand how saturated we all are in it.
posted by vitabellosi at 11:57 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


it sounds like her deposition was a mess. clearly her lawyers didn't prepare her, at least not well.

i think what deen tries to do is divert whatever stereotypes are inside of her by making them "positive" (the black waiters at the antebellumesque restaurant were 'professional', etc.). but talking with a black employee like that is sure to cause trouble ("see how non-racist i can be by saying explicitly racist things, but with a positive twist?") so i don't know what she was thinking there.

the other problem she created was going into that disposition, talking like this as if all is well and should be forgiven ("see? it's positive racism. it's not even an issue".)

i don't know if she lost the suit or not, but going in there thinking she could just explain things from her point of view obviously backfired. i'm sure being sued is stressful and of course the plaintiff can paint less damning situations in a negative light, but she should have understood how very little sympathy people have with such speech these days. even if it was "jokey" and wouldn't offend you or me it clearly offended someone. and the situation makes her look horrible when brought into the light.

collateral consequences aside, deen is nearing 70 and i'm sure has a nest egg put aside. and food network might have canceled the contract anytime, unflattering deposition or not.
posted by camdan at 12:38 AM on June 23, 2013


Q Have you ever used that term as a way of describing making someone feel better, to massage them?

A No, I massage my meat and I massage my husband sometimes, but that's about the only time I use that word.

[p. 54 line 11]
"I knew that they had been massaged into what Lisa and Bubba wanted them to -- I mean, Lisa and Karl wanted them to think." [p. 62 line 7]

lol.
posted by ctmf at 2:39 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


By the way, lawyers: what's with all the "Objection, you can answer" stuff in the deposition? Did they decide after saying "objection" that they changed their mind, it wasn't objectionable after all? Or is there a thing where that gets them something later, being on record as objecting to the question?
posted by ctmf at 2:48 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it almost goes without saying that anyone of her stature in her line of work is going to be an awful, awful, awful human being. I mean, how could they not be?

That's a pretty broad brush. Knowing (as acquaintances, granted) Colicchio, Lakshmi, Batali and a few other food industry stars, I very much disagree.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:27 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


In Savannah, Many Defend Paula Deen from Critics

Yes New York Times, visiting Paula Deen's restaurant will reveal a lot of her defenders. However, it does tend to be filled with people from out of town, which hints at where a lot of the defense of her comes from.

Deen, and more specifically her restaurants, are seen as major tourist stops, i.e. she brings in money to the local economy. People are willing to forgive a lot of others if they believe their own welfare is connected to particular person or industry.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:22 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


In Savannah, Many Defend Paula Deen from Critics

Wow. Those are terrible defences.
“But what’s hard for people to understand is that she didn’t mean it as racist. It sounds bad, but that’s not what’s in her heart. She’s just from another time.”
Trans.: She's not a racist. She just says and does racist things. But she doesn't mean them.

Another time? She didn't step through a wormhole from 1880. She lives in the present. She lived through the fucking civil rights movement for pity's sake.
“You still hear people talk that way if people think they are in a group of like-minded people,” said Richard Hattaway, 56, who lives just outside Savannah.
Trans.: She's usually only overtly racist when she hangs out with her racist friends.

Yeah, that's a great defence.
“She’s a cook,” Mr. Hattaway said. “She’s not a Harvard graduate.”
Trans.: ???. Jesus, I don't know on this one. Does Harvard do a course on this? BASIC HUMANITY 300 - How Not To Be A Racist Piece Of Crap?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:56 AM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


People are willing to forgive a lot of others if they believe their own welfare is connected to particular person or industry.

Maybe, but if so then a lot of the rationalization of that self-interest is tied up with an ongoing refusal to think even a little about race, language, and Southern history.

I actually don't see a lot of forgiving going on there. Most of the pull quotes are arguments that there's nothing *to* forgive.
posted by kewb at 5:59 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


By the way, lawyers: what's with all the "Objection, you can answer" stuff in the deposition? Did they decide after saying "objection" that they changed their mind, it wasn't objectionable after all?

In depositions, there is no judge present to rule on objections at the time they are made. So the lawyer puts his/her objection on record, but the witness can go ahead and answer because it will be decided later by the judge whether the objection should be sustained or overruled. Witnesses, when they hear objection, think they can't answer but usually they can. (Exceptions would include obviously privileged matters.)

(Usually in litigation it never gets to the point that a judge has to rule on these objections.)
posted by Unified Theory at 6:03 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy cow, I had a childhood memory of going to a Sambo-themed restaurant, but I'd grown to think it was some weird mental pastiche I'd generated from the book and the theme parks and restaurants we'd go to on family vacations. It was real.

I have this memory too. We would go to one of the restaurants in Florida while visiting family. I looked it up and they all had closed by the end of 1982. I was 5 years old. The fact that this is one of my earliest memories of life is messed up and is pissing me off.

If you want a picture of life in the Jim Crow south and how brutally awful it was for African-Americans, read "Devil in the Grove" by Gilbert King. It's about 4 men in central Florida brought up on false charges of rape and how the NAACP and Thurgood Marshall were involved in the defense. It's a real wake-up call and is making me realize that sweeping the history of vicious racism and lynchings under the rug allows people like Paula Deen to delude herself that her folksy style of racism isn't hurting anyone.
posted by artdesk at 6:24 AM on June 23, 2013


Trans.: She's not a racist. She just says and does racist things. But she doesn't mean them.

Pretty much, yes. She's not a bad person, but has obviously done or said bad things. To completely define by those bad things is short sighted. That's often the problem with calling someone "racist" these days, there's no nuance. Racism has been elevated to be an unspeakable evil, so after being tarnished with that broad brush, people and their defenders immediately deny or run from the label. Sure, they've said or done some things, but nothing as bad as an actual racist.

Trans.: She's usually only overtly racist when she hangs out with her racist friends.

It's not uncommon for small groups of people to say things they wouldn't say in front of large group or people they aren't close friends with. That doesn't make what is said in the small groups right but it's not odd to acknowledge that dynamic occurs.

Trans.: ???. Jesus, I don't know on this one. Does Harvard do a course on this? BASIC HUMANITY 300 - How Not To Be A Racist Piece Of Crap?

Paula Deen isn't a highly educated or worldly person. Though she's attained a certain amount of success, at heart she's still a simple person who hasn't thought about much beyond her narrow word view. None of that makes what she said right, but it is an explanation why this particular person says and thinks such ridiculous things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:04 AM on June 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


"Blazing Saddles" is a product of its time, and it uses the language for humor. Forty years ago it was considered hip and hilarious.

First season of The Kids in the Hall included a skit with Mark McKinney in black face playing an old bluesman. I think this was 1988? After cocking my head to the side and raising an ear, I couldn't help but imagine shit they'd take on the blue if they were to try that in 2013. The skit wasn't all that funny, but god Bruce McCulloch makes a handsome woman.
posted by echocollate at 7:54 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


We would go to one of the restaurants in Florida while visiting family. I looked it up and they all had closed by the end of 1982.

I wonder how the Sambo restaurants relate to Po' Folks, which I remember eating at in the 80's and maybe into the early 90's in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

HOLY SHIT PO' FOLKS STILL EXISTS GUYS.

I guess if anyone wants to have an uncomfortably race/class tinged casual dining meal, and the waiting list for a Lady And Sons reservation is too long, they know where to go.
posted by Sara C. at 7:55 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Racism is monstrously evil; the problem is that people respond to questions about racism by trying to avoid *being* racists rather than trying to think about and avoid *perpetuating racism*. Among people who perpetuate racism, there's only a vanishingly small proportion that actually, vocally self-identifies with racial ideology.

I'd agree that Deen is simple and unreflective; I'd also agree that this exactly why she has a history of expressing racist sentiments. Excusing that out of sympathy or self-interest seems misguided at best. Maybe one lesson here is that racism doesn't happen because of some population of Evil Racists who are fundamentally not like the rest of us Good People.

This isn't really about Paula Deen's soul, it's about "Paula Deen," the trademark and franchise, which is now associated with rather explicitly racist sentiments. Trying to move "Deen" from one category to the other as if the human person is at stake and not an exercise in brand maintenance doesn't really address the real problem. Paula Deen will still be rich, assuming she's not a fool, and Savannah will survive.
posted by kewb at 7:56 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wonder how the Sambo restaurants relate to Po' Folks, which I remember eating at in the 80's and maybe into the early 90's in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

I remember Po'Folks. We ate at the one in Jackson on occasion when I was a kid. Still trying to digest several stale Moon Pies. Kind of low-rent Cracker Barrel (another unfortunately named eatery). Same rustic Americana kitsch.
posted by echocollate at 8:02 AM on June 23, 2013


(To contribute to the PoFolks derail, I worked as a server there when I was in college, in like 1990 or 91 or so, in San Diego, of all places. I still have my first-name-whittled-on-a-woodchip nametag, which I saved to remind myself later that that experience really did happen and wasn't some awful nightmare where servers had to affect "country" accents and refer to drinks as "bellywashers." In my defense, it was a step up from my previous waitressing gig, at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour and Restaurant, which was its own special endless birthday party announcement hell.)
posted by mothershock at 8:26 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


responded to questions regarding a "very southern-style wedding" in which the servers would be "professional black men doing a fabulous job."

I attended one of these weddings back in the 1990's. It was in NC. The rehearsal dinner was at the home of a wealthy southern matriach. As a northerner I never experienced anything like this before. We were served exclusively by black men. I could see that the people working in the kitchen were exclusively black women. This struck me as southern protocol. And for the first time I saw racism as protocol. I recall feeling extremely uncomfortable in that moment. I was part of something (the protocol) I knew was wrong but I had no choice but to play along and be gracious and polite as if this was all completely normal. And it was for my southern hosts. I see Paula Deen as an older woman who was born and raised within that protocol--her culture. It probably didn't strike her as hateful in anyway. It is what she knows. And that isn't meant as a justification or dismissal. Given her status she should have been foreward thinking enough to question that protocol---which I assume is dying a slow death. But evidently she didn't get the memo.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:26 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but done in a completely tone deaf way.

Actually, restaurants like Po' Folks probably illustrate pretty well the situation with all this southern "heritage". I think nowadays anywhere else in the country, and with any other cuisine, culture, ethnic group, etc. when you open a restaurant you very clearly think through the branding strategy so as to avoid offending people before they even walk in the door. But something about southern culture among southerners in the south de-emphasizes those kinds of strategies and instead insists that it's perfectly OK to open a redneck fast-casual restaurant chain and just straight up call it Po' Folks. And make the restaurants look like shacks. And fill the place with a bunch of insulting poor-white-trash imagery.

In fact, the genius of Cracker Barrel is that they figured out how to distill the problematic stuff out of that Down Home Country Cookin' brand and make it palatable to people all over the country. Which is why they have a bazillion locations, but there are now about five Po' Folks, all in the deep south.

(All of the above it wouldn't surprise me terribly much to discover that there's a pizza place in New Jersey called Guido's that embraces all the worst parts of d-bag Jersey Shore culture. But I doubt it would become a big chain.)
posted by Sara C. at 8:27 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


“You still hear people talk that way if people think they are in a group of like-minded people,” said Richard Hattaway, 56, who lives just outside Savannah.

Speaking of which, after the apology is recorded and she's surrounded only by her retinue, what do you think she's saying about the sort of people who have pushed her into this, and what vocabulary do you think she's using to describe them?
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:51 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


FWIW, if you enjoy your sanity, avoid the Food Network Facebook page comments. Holy balls.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:08 AM on June 23, 2013


Actually, restaurants like Po' Folks

Someone remembers this joint, from the late '70s or early '80s? What a flashback. And the place didn't last very long. Or not for long in many places. I found a "Po Folks" site with eight places in Florida.

You still see the cheeseball "drinks served in canning/Mason jars" that it featured, however. No weirder than any one a dozen places with farm implements on the wall, though. People didn't drink out of canning jars in any Days of Old.
posted by raysmj at 10:40 AM on June 23, 2013


i drink out of mason jars in the here and now. They don't break when my cats "accidentally" knock them over with tails or paws, unlike other glasses.
posted by sweetkid at 10:42 AM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh, probably the reason the ones are left in Florida is that Burt Reynolds was a key investor in that operation (which was part of the reason he had major financial issues for a while there).
posted by raysmj at 10:43 AM on June 23, 2013


Our local moonshine comes out of the hollers in Mason jars. You can't put that stuff in just any old thing.
posted by maggieb at 10:52 AM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


It was really confusing when I lived in Sweden, to hear the word sambo used so often. There it is short for "Samboende" and means a couple that lives together without being married
http://blogs.transparent.com/swedish/swedish-relationships-%E2%80%93-the-sambo/
posted by melissam at 11:09 AM on June 23, 2013


Yeah, moonshine still comes in quart Mason jars.
posted by notsnot at 11:12 AM on June 23, 2013


i have a canning jar sitting next to me - it had iced coffee in it. i take shots out of jelly jars. i'd say a pretty big percentage of cupboards around here include much of the same. i don't consider it folksy or related to southern pride - they're just glasses that can double as leftover jars. some of them even have handles. and you can get them for cheap at the end of the summer.
posted by nadawi at 11:19 AM on June 23, 2013


You still see the cheeseball "drinks served in canning/Mason jars" that it featured, however. No weirder than any one a dozen places with farm implements on the wall, though. People didn't drink out of canning jars in any Days of Old.

Yeah, I had a beer in a mason jar at Pappy & Harriet's on a recent weekend trip to Joshua Tree. It's not really the "drinking out of mason jars!" "fry everything!" "hang a pitchfork on the wall!" aesthetic that I have* an issue with, though. I mean, a lot of restaurants that don't have classism problems do that stuff. I can get behind the down-home simpler times good ole American road food concept well enough.

It's the fact that the place is called Po' Folks! And it's designed to look like a shack! And nobody thought this was weird or that they should maybe try to be less obvious about the whole thing.

That said, there's at least one bar in Manhattan called Trailer Trash or the like, serving drinks in mason jars, with a screen door and astro-turf and pink flamingos. And if you think about it, that's sort of worse. I mean, at least Po' Folks more or less caters to the demographic it mocks.

Oh, probably the reason the ones are left in Florida is that Burt Reynolds was a key investor in that operation (which was part of the reason he had major financial issues for a while there).

REALLY? You don't say. My grandparents are friends with Burt Reynolds from his pre-Hollywood days. I wonder if this is why we seemed to go there ALL THE GODDAMN TIME when I was a kid, anytime we were in a town that had one. Which is why I still remember it and think about the concept from time to time.

*I should mention that, A) I only have memories of eating there on family vacations when I was a kid, and B) I have no great problem with Po' Folks, it's just, oy vey, really?
posted by Sara C. at 11:19 AM on June 23, 2013


If you come to my house and it's not an arranged gathering and I offer you wine, I will almost certainly serve it to you in a small jam jar. I prefer them to wine glasses so they'll be clean and ready to go and, unlike the wine glasses which sit mostly unused on an exposed shelf, not need to be dusted off.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:29 AM on June 23, 2013


People didn't drink out of canning jars in any Days of Old.

What about that line in Blue Suede Shoes about how "you can drink my liquor from an old fruit jar"? Carl Perkins couldn't have just pulled that out of thin air.
posted by jonp72 at 11:31 AM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Po' Folks

I have never heard of this place before but the name really cracks me up in an Oh The Wrongness way.
posted by sweetkid at 11:31 AM on June 23, 2013


Moonshine was, I would guess, stored in mason jars. But people never regularly drank iced tea and, hell, cokes out of mason jars. That's a chain restaurant thing. I'm seeing it with sangria and crap now, for gosh sakes. (It's a "rustic chic" thing, apparently.)
posted by raysmj at 11:50 AM on June 23, 2013


Moonshine was, I would guess, stored in mason jars. But people never regularly drank iced tea and, hell, cokes out of mason jars. That's a chain restaurant thing. I'm seeing it with sangria and crap now, for gosh sakes. (It's a "rustic chic" thing, apparently.)

I guess I was hallucinating all those years with my family in Mississippi. Because we sure as hell did drink all sorts of beverages out of Mason jars. I don't think there were regular glasses in my grandparents house until I was a teenager.
posted by cooker girl at 11:53 AM on June 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


I asked both my catholic Louisianaian " hunting made up a large chunk of our meals growing up" friend and my Alabamian " parents were back to the land Jewish hippies" friend and they both reported drinking out of mason jars growing up.
posted by The Whelk at 12:29 PM on June 23, 2013


( and my fancy pants arts friend in Queens drinks out of old glass jars cause what you're gonna throw them out? Wasteful! )
posted by The Whelk at 12:30 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


what's it like being WRONG raysmj

(joke)
posted by sweetkid at 12:32 PM on June 23, 2013


That said, there's at least one bar in Manhattan called Trailer Trash or the like, serving drinks in mason jars, with a screen door and astro-turf and pink flamingos. And if you think about it, that's sort of worse. I mean, at least Po' Folks more or less caters to the demographic it mocks.

It's called Trailer Park and it has the best tater tots in the city and champange in a can, I'm pretty sure it's mocking like how John Waters is mocking- it feels very fun and they have an Elvis impersonator some nights. Who doesn't love Elvis? no one, that's who.

Plus it's like, the only decent place to eat or drink for blocks and blocks cause Chelsea is so damned soulless and lousy.
posted by The Whelk at 12:34 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, I grew up in rural Miss. I have standing, damn it! Haha. (I didn't want to touch the Paula Deen thing earlier, for many reasons. And she's a celebrity, knew what she was getting or stepping into by now, etc. She's not going to hurt for money for the rest of her life, unless she hires Burt Reynolds as a financial adviser. My heart does not bleed for her. Anyway, thanks for the amusement.)
posted by raysmj at 12:34 PM on June 23, 2013


Oh oh oh- there is fancy-pants, artyfully designed BRANDED moonshine in the general stores here in Maine. in that it's neutral corn liquor in a mason jar that has been filled with blueberries or strawberries that have left to go white while infusing the liquor.

Which somehow feels waaaay more offensive just on a cost issue alone. Isn't the point of infusing tasteless cheap liquor at home is cause its really cheap and easy? If you had the money wouldn't you buy actual flavored liquor? Flavored liquor that doesn't have bleached white berries taking up valuable volume in the bottle?

It baffled me. I am baffled.
posted by The Whelk at 12:39 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


( also Trailer Park isn't branded southern, it's branded 50s-60s kitsch, it looks like what my Aunt Who Never Left New England's apartment looked like. but I digress. )
posted by The Whelk at 12:41 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fancy " moonshine" branded liquor.
posted by The Whelk at 12:46 PM on June 23, 2013


I think it's hard for people not from The South to understand this kind of paternal, kind-hearted racism. Deen's deposition doesn't describe violent, hateful, cross-burning racism. It's not even particularly mean-spirited. It's meant as fondness, a weird sort of respect even. It's terribly pernicious and awful and absolutely deserves to be called out and chastised. It's pernicious, this racism that doesn't seem mean-spirited, but yearns for the days of colored waiters, colored help, etc. It may shake its head at cross-burning, but will seat those cross-burners at supper, still smelling of smoke, because they're just high-spirited, you know, they're basically good guys at heart. It absolutely supports and shelters racism. Nostalgia for that past is nostalgia for cheap labor, and the hierarchy that moves you upward because you're white. Isn't it nice to have people to look down upon?

I feel a little sorry for Deen, because she's been forthright, but I feel so much worse for the woman who filed the complaint, and the rest of the non-white staff. I love this from the Root She sold herself as this sweet, old lump of butter and sugar: all Southern drawl and kindness, sass and catchphrases, always a little more mayonnaise or butter or cheese. She was a grandmother to us all in her insistence on making fatty food more fatty and sweet foods just a bit sweeter. I always thought she was turning it up for the cameras. It turns out that she really is the old South, which stands out like the bruised parts of the banana. Deen is a business owner, and it's pretty hard to own a business and not know that you can't discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, color, sex, age, disability status or religion. This doesn't sound like a few poor choices in jokes; it sounds racist as hell.

at heart she's still a simple person who hasn't thought about much beyond her narrow word view That's why the penalties are proportionate to her economic status. She's a successful celebrity whose career is very likely substantially over. She won't go to jail, and she'll only be tarred and feathered metaphorically. A few families won't invite her over anymore, but that probably happened as soon as she got divorced.

Deen's not a lot older than I am. I grew up in a racist world and vaguely remember Catch a N___ by the toe before it got changed to Catch a monkey by the toe. I watched the race riots on tv, watched Martin Luther King's funeral, Bobby Kennedy's funeral, listened to the news about segregated schools, busing, equal rights affirmative action, etc. There's no way not to know about racism, especially in the South. The longer I think about Deen's genteel, Southern, socially acceptable racism, the more pissed off I get.
posted by theora55 at 12:52 PM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


i don't consider it folksy or related to southern pride - they're just glasses that can double as leftover jars

Yeah, the majority of my glasses are Bonne Maman jam jars. They're studier than regular beverage glasses and they're FREE ONCE YOU EAT THE JAM.

I actually conflate this with eastern european frugality more than I do with southern-ness but I am obvsly coming at this from the ny jew pov.
posted by elizardbits at 1:06 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also honey jars. They still say "honey" on them.
posted by sweetkid at 1:07 PM on June 23, 2013


Yeah, the majority of my glasses are Bonne Maman jam jars. They're studier than regular beverage glasses and they're FREE ONCE YOU EAT THE JAM.

I actually conflate this with eastern european frugality more than I do with southern-ness but I am obvsly coming at this from the ny jew pov.


Most of my glasses are mason jars. I get a lot of canned things from Mom as well as use them for storage so always have a lot and the large ones hold enough water that I'm not having to go back and forth a lot to fill it. They're also sturdier them most glasses I could get at the same price.

I'm Canadian so I doubt it's a southern US thing. I dunno it just makes sense to me. They're here. I have lots and they hold stuff just like any other glass.
posted by Jalliah at 1:10 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]



Oh and the eenie meenie miny moe rhyme.

Grew up on the west coast of Canada in the 70's. This was the kids go to rhyme for choosing things and people. I remember clearly that's this how my sisters and I ate smarties. It was catch a 'tigger' though. We thought it had something to do with Winnie-the Pooh and imagined catching Disney's Tigger.

Wasn't until years later that I found out it's real origin and was horrified and what the original word was.
posted by Jalliah at 1:16 PM on June 23, 2013


Did you ever see this mockumentary on what the country would look like if the South had won? It's jarring; it has flaws but still worth watching.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0389828/?ref_=sr_1
posted by etaoin at 1:31 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Back in the late 50s--early 60s in my lily-white area of Northern Minnesota, we said the eenie meenie miny moe rhyme with "catch a n****r by the toe." ("If he hollers, make him pay $50 every day.") None of us had a clue what the N word meant and didn't know what the rest of the rhyme meant. (I still don't know what the rhyme means--if anything.) We didn't refer to blacks by that name and probably never referred to them at all, having never known or even seen any.

And we referred to a certain nut as n****r toes, never having heard of a Brazil nut. Again, we had no idea that it referred to a race.
posted by leftcoastbob at 2:04 PM on June 23, 2013


But people never regularly drank iced tea and, hell, cokes out of mason jars. That's a chain restaurant thing.

No it's not. It's an "I have eight million canning jars" thing. You'll see it wherever people have lots of canning jars and not a lot of money, especially when they want something sturdy to drink out of when they're working outside. It has also been noted that water tastes wetter out of a canning jar. Not sure why that should be but I agree!

People who have eight million canning jars also use them for vases, bulk dry goods, leftovers, screws, buttons, and many other things. They're just a useful container that's always there (because you're always opening a jar of something you canned and then it takes a while for it to migrate back out to the root cellar so there's always a few clean and empty ones hanging around).

This experience based on life in the PNW, not the South.
posted by HotToddy at 2:10 PM on June 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


i'm so glad so many people drink out of jars! i felt like i had stepped into some alternate dimension! if it's not the canning jars or jelly jars at my grandparents place, it was the thick walled dimpled iced tea goblets or the metal glasses that were super extra cold from being kept in the fridge.
posted by nadawi at 2:25 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I drank out of both Mason jars and Welch's jelly jars when I was a kid, at my folks' house, at my aunts' and uncles' houses, and at my older relatives' houses.

Lots of the DIY/urban-homesteader/whatever types I know, both in the south and up north, drink out of Mason jars, and so do plenty of the Garden & Gun/Oxford American types.

(Also, here are some things that are a thing: the Cuppow, Fancy Redneck (their slur, not mine) Wine Glasses, the Mason Shaker, the Portland Press, and the information that the threads on a Hario hand grinder fit a widemouth Mason jar.)
posted by box at 3:07 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


My father prefers his iced tea in a jar, which drives my mom's sense of decency crazy and has for 40 years.
posted by Miko at 3:09 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shit, in my household growing up, our juice glasses were empty Armour Dried Beef jars. One of my parents' favorite comfort foody meals was *erp* creamed chipped beef. (Which would have been spelled 'cream chip beef.') We weren't poor by any stretch - but part of the reason we weren't was my folks' inbred frugality.

I'll leave that anecdote here rather than any recounting of their racial awareness. Both were products of white flight from Gary, IN, in the late 40s, and they moved from that environment to racially segregated Dallas a week after getting married, only five months before Kennedy was shot a mile away from their apartment.

I'd much rather admit to drinking out of beef jars than to describe the attitudes towards race they were brought up with, and which we're somehow solidified when they moved to the south as very young adults.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:42 PM on June 23, 2013


Yeah, the Mason-jar-as-a-glass was definitely a Whole Earth Catalog sort of thing, among whatever else.

But something about southern culture among southerners in the south de-emphasizes those kinds of strategies and instead insists that it's perfectly OK to open a redneck fast-casual restaurant chain and just straight up call it Po' Folks. And make the restaurants look like shacks. And fill the place with a bunch of insulting poor-white-trash imagery.

I dunno. There's been a huge reclamation of "redneck" as a term and as a culture, which has gone hand in hand with the commercial growth of country music. I grew up in Wisconsin, when it was exclusively pejorative, and I'm continually astonished at how people around here have adopted it. We even have a "Redneck Fest" (some years, may be permanently defunct now).
posted by dhartung at 5:59 PM on June 23, 2013


Most of my glasses are Mason jars as well, I’m drinking out of one right now. But I remember my southern relatives using old jelly jars and the like for drinking. Canning jars cost money and were for canning.
posted by bongo_x at 7:12 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Back when I lived in Florida I ate at Po Folks a few times. Good biscuits.

I'm puzzled what folks here would think that restaurant would have insulted anyone. (I am also puzzled when northerners are shocked I was not offended by the movie O Brother Where Art Thou.) Maybe you have to have grown up here to understand, I don't know. I always saw Po Folks as...well, if Hee Haw was a restaurant instead of a tv show it would have been Po Folks. That's all.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:14 PM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


My dad grew up in the Deep South. When I was a kid, slurs of all kinds sprung forth from his lips. He evolved from that to a man who has renounced racism. Hell, he voted for Obama last time! (in Ohio, to make damn good and sure "that carpetbagger Romney" didn't get the job.)

I would never have believed you if you had told me in the 1970s that my father would someday stop being a racist and gladly vote for a black man.

If he could do it, then Paula Deen can, too.
posted by double block and bleed at 9:13 PM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


No it's not. It's an "I have eight million canning jars" thing. You'll see it wherever people have lots of canning jars and not a lot of money, especially when they want something sturdy to drink out of when they're working outside.

In the Olden Times, poorer people didn't own much glassware. They drank from a dipper or ladle in a bucket.

That said, it's really only in recent times that poorer people would be drinking any non-alcoholic beverage that wasn't water, at all. All the mythology around sweet tea is much more recent. In fact, a lot of Southern Traditions are not terribly old at all.

Additionally, no matter how poor you were, no way in hell come hell or high water would you EVER serve a guest out of a canning jar. No commercial establishment would have dreamed of such a thing, either.

The notion of being served a drink from a jar in a restaurant is extremely new. As is the notion of people entertaining guests and serving them from repurposed jars.
posted by Sara C. at 9:21 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm puzzled what folks here would think that restaurant would have insulted anyone.

I don't know if you ever put this together, but Po' Folks means "poor folks".

As in, it's a restaurant that glorifies the experience of POOR PEOPLE. For money.

I don't think it's horrifically offensive or anything, it's just... not really done among people who are actually trying to make money running a chain of restaurants. Because while it might not be personally offensive to this or that individual, the chance of the name and branding/trade dress making some people uneasy is there. So why not call it something that isn't a gigantic can of worms waiting to bust open?

I think that's the difference between southern and non-southern ways of thinking about this stuff. Southern culture defaults to "well I don't personally find it offensive, therefore of course this is a legitimate choice!", whereas the rest of American culture defaults to "we will probably make more money if we try not to offend people before they even walk in the door."
posted by Sara C. at 9:29 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also FWIW I grew up in Lousiana and drank out of jelly jars, not Mason jars.

There was actually a brand of jelly that came in what amounts to an 8 oz juice glass, with dinosaurs and other popular childhood imagery printed on it.

I remember thinking that the whole jelly jar thing was kind of gauche, but I was an eight year old snob. I much preferred drinking out of a Mardi Gras Cup. Preferably Hyacinthians, Aphrodite, or Cleopatra, because they had pretty pictures of flowers, goddesses, and queens on them. (I wanted to link to the other Krewes, but apparently not all random semi-rural Mardi Gras krewes have websites. Who knew the Krewe of Hyacinthians was so tech savvy?)
posted by Sara C. at 9:38 PM on June 23, 2013


i'm confused about the focus of "olden times" - like, i drank out of jars my whole life, my mom didn't seem to indicate it was weird for her to do so (and i know some of the other dishes had been in grandma's cupboard since my mom was a little girl). my granny was a pretty strict traditionalist and talked about how her momma taught her how to can - granny and papa owned a salvage yard and they had an entire section dedicated to glass jars that spanned a damn long time

what are you considering "extremely new" here? because as far as i can tell from my own history (and the histories other people are reporting here), we're looking at 50 years or more. according to wikipedia, jars from their early history in the 1800s are a collectors item and not terrible hard to find, so it makes since we're actually looking at more like 100 years or more.

with your telling of thinking jelly jars were kind of gauche (something i can't remember ever feeling - i have always loved a jelly jar, with or without designs), maybe you just didn't notice how prevalent it was or ran in less dirt poor circles? i can't really speak to restaurants, and i'm pretty inclined to believe that was something that has been more popular in the last 30 years than previously, but i still wouldn't classify that as extremely new, especially when you consider dining fads.
posted by nadawi at 9:56 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought the idea of "Po' Folks" was strange when I was 12 years old or so! And yeah, my grandmother was as southern as anyone on Earth, had a giant garden, grew up poor on a family farm in the middle of nowhere, survived the Depression, etc. and never once served any of us any liquids out of a mason jar. (She didn't drink.) But then again, I never liked "Hee Haw," except for the "Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me" song. That's a great, great song. Also, "Where, Where Are You Tonight?"

Anyway... Yikes, at the turn this has taken. Hahaha.
posted by raysmj at 10:19 PM on June 23, 2013


Also, I've heard that Paula Deen was kind of off putting in her not-for-TV shows, silly and drunk, so... But, anyway, you're not going to solve racial issues by addressing celebrity breakdowns and crises, personality issues, etc. (If you want me to bring Daniel Boorstin's "The Image" and the inanity of discussion social problems via celebrity and human interest stories, I'd be glad to. Well, not tonight. Still, a discussion of that alongside one about mason jars would be a sort-of landmark.)
posted by raysmj at 10:26 PM on June 23, 2013


raysmj: those are the only two songs I can remember from Hee Haw and I'll always love them in some sad way.

Additionally, I'll throw my two cents in to the side of the debate where I've seen people drinking (water and sweet tea) out of Mason jars and offering the same to company. This'd be during my childhood, so late 70s / early 80s in Tennessee. I can't agree with "no matter how poor you were, no way in hell come hell or high water would you EVER serve a guest out of a canning jar."
posted by komara at 10:26 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It could vary by southern region! But the restaurant in question started in the late '70s. I'd never seen jars used as glassware in a restaurant before that one (not even in fish shacks).
posted by raysmj at 10:37 PM on June 23, 2013


my granny was a pretty strict traditionalist and talked about how her momma taught her how to can - granny and papa owned a salvage yard and they had an entire section dedicated to glass jars that spanned a damn long time

I'm not disputing that people canned. But beyond a generation or so ago, jars were used for canning, not drinking.

what are you considering "extremely new" here? because as far as i can tell from my own history (and the histories other people are reporting here), we're looking at 50 years or more.

Yeah, 50 years is "extremely new", when you're talking about a group of people who act like everything they revere is as old as time itself. I'd guess that all this jar drinking business isn't much older than the Great Depression, or maybe the teens or the twenties. Before that, you don't have working class rural people shopping in grocery stores for pre-processed foods.

Same for the whole sweet tea concept, or drinking a coke at all (let alone drinking soda from any vessel at all -- that's a 70s thing, with the popularity of the plastic two-liter bottle). Someone who lives on a rural farm, earning their subsistence off the land, doesn't have tea. Or ice, for that matter.

I'm not saying "nobody ever drank anything out of a mason jar until Pinterest was invented". Just that, no, it's not a traditional practice. It's a relatively recent thing, born out of supermarkets and easy access to cheap consumer goods.

Also, I maintain that not even the poorest dirt farmer in the Dust Bowl would ever serve a guest a beverage in a jar of any kind. Nor would any restaurant or bar do so. That sort of thing dates from the 90's and beyond.
posted by Sara C. at 10:43 PM on June 23, 2013


Coke was sold in bottles that you could return for a deposit. These were common in small towns (and less wasteful than today's plastic bottles--yeesh) for many, many years (pre-dating the '70s), although you wouldn't be drinking it all the time out in the country. The standard southern iced tea recipe, meanwhile, goes back to the late '20s, and its use was not uncommon, at all. But people likely didn't drink it as a daily staple, I'm sure, certainly not poor people during the Depression.

Time for bed now! Toodles. You heard people saying "Toodles" all the time in Days of Old in the Southland.
posted by raysmj at 10:56 PM on June 23, 2013


well at that last point about company you are just wrong. and jar drinking isn't just a southern thing. my husband from Connecticut reports drinking out of jars in the 70s while visiting people with his mom.my family originally hails from the Midwest. you have other people in this thread from places like the pnw talking about it being part of their upbringing. you seem to be conflating a lot of things and I don't disagree with your overall points about southern culture, but you're weirdly suck on this jar thing.

also I think a lot of family traditions are things that started in the last 100 years or less, so calling the southerners out for having traditions from that long ago that they look fondly on seems sort of odd.
posted by nadawi at 10:58 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Coke was sold in bottles that you could return for a deposit. These were common in small towns (and less wasteful than today's plastic bottles--yeesh) for many, many years (pre-dating the '70s), although you wouldn't be drinking it all the time out in the country.

Yeah, that's my point. Until the 70s, soda was sold in individual servings, so no need to pour it into a mason jar.

The standard southern iced tea recipe, meanwhile, goes back to the late '20s, and its use was not uncommon, at all.

Among well off people, sure. If you can afford tea and a freezer for ice, you can afford glassware.
posted by Sara C. at 11:17 PM on June 23, 2013


so calling the southerners out for having traditions from that long ago that they look fondly on seems sort of odd.

Not really, considering the very long Southern memory and constant insistence that everything is about "heritage" and "tradition". Drinking coke out of a mason jar is younger than integrated schools, for chrissakes.
posted by Sara C. at 11:18 PM on June 23, 2013


the south is not a monolith. our view if our traditions are not a group collective. your brush is so broad as to be offensive. I know you come from down here and have a complicated relationship with southerness as a concept, but a lot of the things you're focusing on aren't even strictly southern. even if they were, there's nothing wrong with people having a reminiscent draw to something they watched their mom, grandma, and great grandma do in the kitchen.
posted by nadawi at 11:35 PM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't see anything wrong with people being reminiscent for something they saw their grandma do in the kitchen.

But over and over, every time I realize some traditional southern thing actually has a beginning point that is within historical memory, and which can be laid out as "here is the point where people started to do this thing", it's powerful for me. Maybe that's not true for other people. But as someone who was raised to think "racism is innate", and "even the ancient greeks had slaves", and "X is what we have always done" (X being sometimes neutral or even good, but also sometimes ugly and wrong), each time I discover that there's no such thing as "always", I feel like I learn a little more truth about the world.

Thinking that your southernism of choice -- whether it's sweet tea or slavery -- exists in absolutes across all of time is what's at the root of all the bad parts of southern culture. So if that means sometimes admitting that most people probably didn't drink iced drinks until after WW2, that's fine by me. I don't need to think something is part of an unending line of heritage to enjoy it.
posted by Sara C. at 11:42 PM on June 23, 2013


I've stayed out of this one because we've already been up and down this street a couple of times in the last couple of months. Even so, there's no denying that there's a problem with racism in the food-service industry, but it doesn't start or end with Deen and it's not limited to the South.

It's Bigger than Paula Deen, David J Leonard, 21 June 2013

St. Alia of the Bunnies: “(I am also puzzled when northerners are shocked I was not offended by the movie O Brother Where Art Thou.)”
This is the thing that's had me on a slow burn since this post went up and why I've stayed out of it until now. At least here in Georgia, just about everyone understands that while we've come a long way, there's still a long way yet to go. We don't really need folks from the North or West to explain our everyday lives to us.

On the positive side a man like J.B. Stoner wouldn't be able to get the time of day in Georgia politics these days. (Not that he was ever mainstream.) Within my lifetime he ran campaign ads on the radio that ended with the jingle, "J.B. Stoner he's the man, he's the man who really can, ship 'em back." Keep in mind that's actually the least offensive part of his ads. Thankfully, those days are over.

On the negative side, true integration is still far over the horizon in the Peach State. The best we've been able to accomplish in the last 30 years or so is détente. It's not nothing, but we can and must do better.

If people are incensed about racism, I wish they would start with getting incensed about the kind of systematic and destructive racism enacted by state legislatures all across the country, not just the South. Compared to that, some old white woman admitting to having uttered a racial epithet during her lifetime is nothing.


P.S. It's a little late now, but just as a point of information the plaintiff in this case is white.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:03 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and for the record my lifetime began in the 1970s. Stoner's last election campaign, was in 1990, though by then he had toned it down a little in public.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:07 AM on June 24, 2013


Couldn't sleep so I did the next best thing and decided that I just needed to find out more about drinking from jars.

Things that I learned.

Lots of people recall grandmothers and great grandmothers drinking out of jars. Drinking sweet tea or lemonade on the porch in the summer is/was a thing. The eras talked about are 30's on to today, so 80 odd years.

Jars were used to transport liquor during prohibition. Although moonshine in jars became a stereotype and 'southern thing' liquor in jars was common in many other parts of America. There are at least several bars in various parts of the states that serve some cocktails in canning jars as throwback to that time.

In Toronto several bars serve cocktails in jars and at least one restaurant has been serving some drinks in jars for almost ten years. One chef talked about patrons nostalgia in recalling childhood memories of grandparents canning and that jars=canning=country=comfort.

A bar in Austrailia has been serving drinks in jam jars for 15 years.

People recall drinking out of jam jars and other types of jars during WWII in England.

All throughout Canada and the US (according to discussion boards) people have been using canning and other jars as everyday glasses since they can remember. Earlier generations did too. Different ones used for company. Now many people don't care and use them for both.

I found several references to the depression and family members using jars because the choice was between spending money on canning or glasses.

Drinking out of jars is definitely become an urban trend. NY has several upscale type bars that use jars for some drinks.

At some point Mason et al started making jars with handles, some with screw lids and some without. Couldn't find the date but I don't think it's super recent. People talked about using handle jars with their kids because they were easier to hold and if they didn't finished it could be put in the fridge with a lid.

The mason type jar shape with the screw lid has been around since the 1850's. In the earlier 1800's Napoleon offered a reward to anyone who could invent a way to preserve food for the battlefield. One guy invented a process that mirrors home canning methods but it was expensive. Similar techniques and jars with lids clamped with wire were used during the Civil War. Masons screw top brought canning into the home.

From what I could find there is fairly long history of drinking out of jars (related to canning or having access to home canned food) but for the most part it's what people did at home. Company saw something else. Perhaps the combination of people not caring company vs everyday as much as well as nostalgia for what they represent is why they're such a trend now with people that don't can.

Old jars can be worth a lot of money.

It's interesting. Both Ball and Mason are now reproducing some of their vintage styles of jars.
posted by Jalliah at 3:12 AM on June 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


Also, I maintain that not even the poorest dirt farmer in the Dust Bowl would ever serve a guest a beverage in a jar of any kind. Nor would any restaurant or bar do so. That sort of thing dates from the 90's and beyond.

Then you need to hop in your time machine and go back and stop me because I am telling you without reservation that it happened before the 1990s. I appreciate the points you are making about Southern culture worshiping at the Altar of the Old Ways and the tendency to put everything in front of it, but your experience is not the unified experience because there's not such a thing, and just because you didn't see it happen or want to make a point about it not having happened doesn't mean that it didn't happen.
posted by komara at 6:38 AM on June 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


Nice job, Jalliah. While I agree with Sara C. that separating historical fact from imagined history and mythology is an important task and one frequently obscured by the storytelling we do, there is plenty of evidence in material and documentary culture for drinkware and foodways that can give us some signposts about this stuff. I also happened to have just visited the Sandwich Glass Museum which is newly interpreted and gave a pretty fantastic rundown on the evolution of glassware production and adoption in the US.

Canning jars cost money and were for canning.

Canning jars also last decades, and were filled with consumables. As soon as you finish a batch of canning, you are already using up the contents of the jars. And since canning is time and labor-intensive and also a highly seasonanally driven activity, for most of the year there was a supply of jars which did not contain canned food at that moment.

My grandmother canned since her childhood during the Depression, and I know a bit about the history of canning via food studies as well. It's another one of those things which seems like it goes back forever and ever, but really does not. Pickling, through passive processes like the use of brine or cold vinegar, was the primary home food preservation technology up until the late 19th century. You can use any vessel for pickling - a lid is not even required, though it makes pickled produts more storable. For most of the 19th century, "pickles," meaning every kind of vegetable, were the main home preservation food, and they were made in ceramic crocks, stoneware, redware, and glass jars as they were available, but that was typically in upper-middle-class homes with servants who could afford the latest in homekeeping technology.

The Mason jar was invented about 1860. The technology for home canning became more cheaply and widely available on the consumer market in America in the 1870s and 80s. Prior to that, even had there been a lot of mass-manufactured glassware for canning, sugar was also much more expensive, and so the jams, jellies, ketchups, chutneys, and fruits that we often think of as the products of home canning would not have been economically feasible to produce at the household level. It wasn't until the US developed a domestic sugar-beet industry, and also that the Caribbean recovered from the collapse of the sugar-producing slave economy through the mechanization of sugar production, the the price of sugar dropped and it became an increasing component of the standard American diet.

Most people still did not can. Canning is costly, requiring equipment and a whole lot of fuel, and canned food was available on the market. It was during the food crises associated with WWI, the Depression, and WWII that more Americans began the practice of home canning. This was all part of an attempt to encourage home-based food production and divert mass market supplies to relief and war efforts. For this reason, people whose childhood took place in the first half of the 20th century understandably remembered that "everyone has always canned." In fact, it took a raft of major government-led propaganda programs to teach an already-modernizing population how to garden and how to can. Most of the people who canned out of necessity and obedience in the first half of the 20th century stopped canning as soon as the food supply eased up in the 50s. Hence its nostalgic appeal (if we'd never stopped, we couldn't be nostalgic about it!) My grandmother didn't stop. She and my grandfather operated a half-acre garden and canned the bejeezus out of it. We always had canning jars around the house. My grandfather and father preferred them for casual drinking. They wouldn't bring them to the dinner table, but they liked them because they were durable, much more than tableware, so they could be taken out to the garage or yard while working, and because they were much larger than table glasses, which is more practical for working or sitting out of doors where you don't want to go get a refill every 20 minutes.

As far as jelly glasses, Welch's jelly glasses with the promotional characters on them debuted in 1953. These were popular glasses for kids to drink out of and were part of the stable of glassware in most Texas cupboards of the working and middle class. But prior to the "character" glasses, jelly jars were usually designed to be re-used, either as storage jars or drinking vessels. So those, too, go back to the mass market revolution of the late 19th century.

Also popular in our house were the 1970s series of Looney Tunes character glasses, though those were a Pepsi promotion. We had "nice" glassware for suppers, but since the 50s, in that household, at breakfasts and lunches (more casual affairs), the houseful of kids made the jelly glasses, character glasses, and pint jars acceptable.

Until the 70s at least, Coke was a treat, but tea was very inexpensive. (My grandfather had a a bunch of Coke machines, and it was my pleasure to go along and help him restock them in the early 70s). It was a refreshing snack for when you had a dime or, later, a quarter. It was not "home food;" people drank it out, from bottles, while working or doing recreation stuff, or in a soda fountain or at a fair. Even that was a late development, as Coke was mostly drunk at fountains until the 20s when the bottle pulled ahead. Coje was only sold in 6-ounce bottles until the mid-1950s, when the larger 10- and 12-ounce bottles and even the 26-ounce bottle were introduced. The 2-liter bottle represented the transition to home consumption, and came out in 1970. (Coke references).

Meanwhile, tea has been consumed ubiquitously in the US since the early 1800s. Though a luxury product early on, it became common and easily available rapidly. The real luxury of "sweet tea" isn't represented by the tea leaves themselves, but by the use of sugar - too expensive for regular use until the late 1800s - and ice. Lemonade also became a much more popular and accessible treat after the 1870s, when trains began to link the country together and ship a regular, reliable supply of citrus fruits. Once the price of sugar plummeted and ice became easily available to all households (through delivery before home freezers), iced tea went from being a once-in-a-while party or fair treat to a home-based treat. History of sweet tea.

You don't need a freezer to maintain a supply ice, you just need an icebox, something that was fairly common by 1900. If you didn't own an ice box, you bought ice for special occasions, put it into a tub and chipped it as needed for cold drinks or ice cream. It lasts more than a day despite some shrinking if kept in a shady place.
posted by Miko at 8:19 AM on June 24, 2013 [17 favorites]


And we referred to a certain nut as n****r toes, never having heard of a Brazil nut.

I knew Black people in the South who called them "n-----r toes" as recently as the 1960s and early 70s.

we had no idea that it referred to a race.

Not sure if serious.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:34 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]



I really hate the food descriptions for non white skin in the first place - "mocha," "caramel," blah.


I have a foundation I bought in Sweden which is called 'Milk'. The next lightest shade is 'Cream'. Usually the palest shade is called 'ivory', regardless of whether it has a pink or yellow undertone, and it's really confusing. I wonder if this works with foundations called 'caramel' etc.

Also, I have little idea who Paula Deen is except that she made a recipe that consisted of adding butter to peas. I'm learning a bit about the South, though.
posted by mippy at 9:36 AM on June 24, 2013


Ta-Nehisi Coates | The Guileless Accidental Racism of Paula Deen (with links to previous articles he has written on racism and bigotry)
posted by maggieb at 9:42 AM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have little idea who Paula Deen is except that she made a recipe that consisted of adding butter to peas

Buttering vegetables seems kind of normal to me (most restaurants do it), but to me her crowning culinary achievement was deep-fried butter balls.

posted by Miko at 9:43 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


ah, but the recipe was literally: 1 can of peas, 1 bit of butter, put peas in the bowl and put butter on them. That's not a 'recipe', that's a serving suggestion.

I suppose her analogue here might be Anthony Worral Thompson - a large chef who developed type 2 diabetes, and then started doing recipes based on that. His public fall from grace was a shoplifting incident. That, however, is easier to come back from than racism.
posted by mippy at 9:53 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


[meta] Sambo burger trial run?
[meta] Jars on Bobby Bland's bar table
posted by maggieb at 10:02 AM on June 24, 2013


Sambo, previously on MetaFilter.
posted by Miko at 10:08 AM on June 24, 2013


if that was one of the recipes on the food network site - some of those are jokes/click fodder (because people like to make fun of them, fill up the comment sections, link to their friends, etc). for instance, rachel ray's microwave bacon was apparently a joke she put on the site for a former boyfriend because at 2am after an evening of rolling around, they'd microwave bacon and eat it in bed (or something to that effect). if it was on the show, chances are it was a side dish - like she's doing the whole big meal and showing you time saving ideas to get the meal together and on the table and hot at the same time.

it's fun to make fun of those types of serving suggestions, but i know some beginning cooks - the kind of people who only had pre-packaged food growing up - who find that stuff really useful to get started. it seems so simple - empty and drain can, add butter, stir on the stove/microwave, serve - but it can give anxious beginners a place they know they can start. then you convince them that they'd be able to prep a piece of protein and maybe bake a potato and they have a meal.
posted by nadawi at 10:26 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ta-Nehisi Coates | The Guileless Accidental Racism of Paula Deen (with links to previous articles he has written on racism and bigotry)
There is a secret at the core of our nation. And those who dare expose it must be condemned, must be shamed, must be driven from polite society. But the truth stalks us like bad credit. Paula Deen knows who you were last summer. And the summer before that.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:30 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ta-Nehisi Coates' piece is good, though I still find "what do we expect" a thin excuse. It is possible to explain these attitudes away because of cultural factors. But they are still forms of racism, perhaps insidious ones because especially because they involve expressions of kindness and sympathy. (I'm referring to the kinds of statements and behaviors in the cringeworthy video).

I got into it on a folklife society's Facebook page a little (dumb thing to do) , and was reminded that it takes some hard work and focused attention to understand why behaviors that seem "nice" and "honest" ("we're all prejudiced after all") and realist and things "everybody does" are part of racism. To many people, those aspects of racism still thoroughly look like goodwill... or at least maintain the veneer of plausible deniability that has long been essential to de facto segregation.
posted by Miko at 10:52 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't get how 'cultural factors' could explain *away* racism. If cultural factors have lead Paula Deen to see black people as inferior to her, those factors may have created the racism, but they are still a part of her personality. And if she is a good person she would not want to persist in believing things, even if unconsciously.

"I feel like the South is almost less prejudice because black folks played such an integral part of our lives. They were like our family."

Often times they were technically part of the family, and if it was like a family at all it was an extremely abusive family, obviously. But if white people continued to see black people as part as family after slavery, how did segregation and Jim Crow happen so easily? I guess it is complicated, and I'm not from the South, but I sense there is some truth to Paula's statement.

I think it would be interesting to have Coates and Henry Louis Gates Jr. do a show with Paula Deen about racism in American culture. I wonder if she would be open to listening to stories of what black people went through during slavery and reconstruction, and how hurtful the casual use of the n_ as so many of us heard it all over the country in different ways growing up is. Or maybe she could share a butterball with the President and First Lady.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:12 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


And if she is a good person she would not want to persist in believing things, even if unconsciously, that were so hurtful.

people as part as family

Geez, even using the edit function I can't write.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:35 AM on June 24, 2013


if she is a good person she would not want to persist in believing things, even if unconsciously, that were so hurtful.

The way this seeming dichotomy is dealt with is to create fictions about the nature of the relationship - "family" is one, "too complicated for others to understand" is just another. It is complicated that black and white people have lived intimately together in social structures for centuries in the South, but it has been hard for white people ever to know the full truth of the nature of those relationships because they were not openly and freely critiqued for most of history. As one example, that's why The Help was controversial. It is entirely possible for people like Paula Deen to believe they have triumphed over racism because they are nice people, and care about individual black people whom they know. But that is, in part, because they don't have a nuanced understanding of systematic racism and have reduced it (as Coates points out) to the use of a word. Meanwhile, those "family" relationships came about within a structure of underlying constant threat of violence, and coexisted with them.

It takes a large degree of openness and critical thinking to take all this in, especially when one is immersed in rationalizations about it.
posted by Miko at 12:09 PM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Only here will the discussion of a topic like this range from

a socio-economic analysis of the causes and effect of slavery to

thorough and well spoken condemnation of both the individual instance in question and the society/culture that perpetuates it (with a dash of "let's be the bigger person here" and a sprinkle of "I'm out, you guys are mean and this place has changed so much") to

here's more awesome facts/quotes/historical information/writeups/op-eds about the event to

a treatise of drinking out of mason/jam/canning jars and the reasons behind such and such a trend.

Sometimes I love this place, it's fun to watch. And educational too!

And I love drinking out of mason jars. The way the ice clinks around just can't be matched elsewhere. I'm going to go home and open up a can (mason home canned that is) of green beans, eat them with my meal, and pour up a big glass of tea* to enjoy as I lounge around the house.

*Sweet tea that is. There is no other kind that should be served over ice. No, I won't fight you about it. The alternative is simply unthinkable and one day you will come back from the dark side to join us.

posted by RolandOfEld at 12:20 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do love the flavor of sweet tea and grew up on it ("house wine") but had to give it up because of the sugar content. I've made my piece with drinking it straight and kind of like the refreshing bitterness now.
posted by Miko at 12:39 PM on June 24, 2013


I like drinking out of mason jars but as a rule one should never use "drinking" jars for food preservation because frequent washing, handling and mishap can create tiny cracks and chips in the glass which may lead to shattering during processing, spoilage or even tiny shards of glass in your food.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:10 PM on June 24, 2013


I think the drinking out of mason jars conversation has been rather more heated than the racism one.
posted by sweetkid at 1:13 PM on June 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


I've made my piece

surely you mean peace
posted by sweetkid at 1:14 PM on June 24, 2013


I think the drinking out of mason jars conversation has been rather more heated than the racism one.

Nah, you only have to go up to 240 degrees and 10 psi for the ones that aren't highly acidic.

tiny shards of glass in your food.
For whatever reason, my mother thought this had occurred once when I was a child. The resulting trip to the doctor was.... unpleasant. /tmi

posted by RolandOfEld at 1:15 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the drinking out of mason jars conversation has been rather more heated than the racism one.

Yes, and I was just starting to fire off another "IM RIGHT AND HERES WHY" response and realized it was silly and stopped.
posted by Sara C. at 1:23 PM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


also we need you for Mad Men finale thread.
posted by sweetkid at 1:24 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


African-American Cooking with Paula Deen
posted by mudpuppie at 1:25 PM on June 24, 2013


Heated? Nah. Dorky detail from the past is my favorite kind of discussion.
posted by Miko at 2:45 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow mudpuppie. That was amusing to see.
posted by Miko at 2:49 PM on June 24, 2013


Coming into this late as I've been away but references to Deen's age in other forums piss me off. Not because she should be given a pass, quite the opposite. To my consternation, I'm getting older every year. At some point, I expect to exercise more of a right to dress in a manner that is not in keeping with current mores or dance like an idiot but damn, I hope people never give me a pass for being hateful because I'm old. She's what--66? You should have the good moral sense to rise above your times in the first place; there are good people in every era. But if you are the type to make excuses for ignorance at that age, you probably just had a different excuse for your ignorance at thirty.
posted by Morrigan at 6:56 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


My father is 74 and voted for Obama twice. If you had asked me if this were possible in the, say, 90s, I would have said nowaynothehellwaywhatareyoueventalkingabout.
posted by sweetkid at 7:01 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, I remember 35 year olds in Brooklyn in like 2007 saying that no way no how would anyone in America ever even remotely consider voting for a black man.

(None of them came out and said that they wouldn't, it was always about Americans or The Public.)
posted by Sara C. at 7:29 PM on June 24, 2013


Well, I'm not sure quite how to evaluate that statement. First, despite talking to literally thousands of people about the election during the 2008 election run-up, I never once heard the idea that "no how would anyone in America" vote for a black person. It has always been clear that at least some people would vote for a black person. But many a serious analyst also thought the race issue would prevent some proportion of people from voting for him. And it seems to have done. It may have surprised some lay and professional pundits that those numbers were fewer than expected, but making the observation that some people would make their voting decision largely based on race is not exactly wrong.

I'm not saying there are no people in Brooklyn who harbor racist opinions; of course there are. I just don't think that expressing skepticism about Obama's electability is proof of a racist opinion. It is proof of concern over American racism, yes, and such a statement could conceivably provide social cover for someone advancing an idea they don't want to openly own, but the reserve or skepticism itself is not necessarily racist.
posted by Miko at 8:07 PM on June 24, 2013


I'm talking about before the primaries, in 2007. After the Iowa Caucus, I stopped hearing "nobody would vote for a black President" in liberal-leaning circles.

Full disclosure, I wanted Barack Obama to be president after his 2004 keynote speech and was told by my "realistic" older guy friends that it might happen someday but not anytime soon. I was SO EXCITED when he threw his hat in the ring for 2008, and anytime I would bring up the prospect of him even winning a single primary to those same "realistic" guy friends, they would pat me on the head and remind me that no WAY was America going to elect a black President anytime remotely soon.

I felt more vindicated the morning after the Iowa caucus than I have ever felt about anything else in my entire life.

A congressional aide friend of mine even got me inauguration tickets in 2008 because she said that, as the only person she knew who thought Obama had a chance in hell of even getting the Democratic nomination, I deserved them.

(FWIW I agree with you that those guy friends of mine weren't Card Carrying Capital R Racists. They just lacked foresight.)
posted by Sara C. at 8:14 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I experienced the same things. People started talking about his candidacy seriously after the 2004 speech, and it was a continuous subject of debate in the popular press, whether it would be numerically, demographically, sociologically feasible for Obama to assemble the coalition of voters that would represent a victory. I think it was a reasonable discussion on the part of observers of American culture. I saw him speak during the NH primary that year, and began campaigning for him them, so I was also treated to the backlash in a first-person manner. It was certainly real. I'm as glad as you that so much of the conventional wisdom was wrong. We also did not, could not have, taken into account the statistical/strategic operation that was in place that pretty much outsmarted a lot of the former demographic conventional wisdom people were operating with at the time. It was not yet public, and it's basically what won.

In many ways the whole sequence of events was so downright encouraging that it is harder to take when you see how much viability old-school racism still has and how many people eagerly rush to apologize for, minimize, or defend it.
posted by Miko at 8:20 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, it's sad. I had just finished Photoshopping images of Mason jars into some old pics from the family album but since Sara C. went ahead and admitted that she was wrong I guess I don't need 'em anymore. Oh well.
posted by komara at 8:36 PM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


i feel like we should give you some sort of certificate of merit nevertheless
posted by elizardbits at 8:51 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


You have just earned a slow clap from me, if nothing else.

*claps, slowly*
posted by Sara C. at 8:52 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


leftcoastbob: It's important to remember that the blister-breaking episode occurred when Paula was 10 years old and that the sins of 10-year-olds really shouldn't be held against them more than half a century later. What a 10-year-old does after having grown up, however, should be examined.

A ten-year-old who uses a toy bat to break blisters on another child's hands for fun is a freaking monster.

The bullies who beat me at school at that age wouldn't stoop to that level of inhumanity. They had limits.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:20 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


ambient2: Did I miss the part where complaint = facts?
No, you missed the part where multiple, damning, racist statements from Paula Deen corroborate those complaints so strongly that it strains credulity to believe that she doesn't have discriminatory practices in her business.

Basically, you missed the entire set of FPP links, and everything linked in this thread afterwards.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:33 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


[One comment deleted; please make your point without hyperbolically accusing other commenters of holding nasty racist views, or just give it a pass.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:51 PM on June 24, 2013


I'm talking about before the primaries, in 2007.

I read that as "before the primates" and was confused. I should probably try to get some sleep.
posted by homunculus at 12:17 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fox News has hired Paula Deen. (parody)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:55 AM on June 25, 2013


I like the quote by Allen West. It's like something Allen West would actually say.
posted by sweetkid at 8:57 AM on June 25, 2013


What Paula Deen And Her Sons Tells Us About The Four Ways Racists Defend Themselves
I can see why Deen and her sons would like to live in a world where their intentions always get the benefit of the doubt, where people who call them out on their actions get treated like they’re crazy grievance-mongers, where everyone recognizes that the press just reads ill will into things like plantation-style weddings. It’s an environment that would allow them to live comfortably anaesthetized, free from having to think about how their words and actions might affect others. But contrary to Bobby and Jamie’s constant assertions that their mother is a good person, this is not what good, truly anti-racist people do. They think before they speak and act about how their behavior might come across to other people, and they weigh historical context as well as their own intent in doing so. They don’t expect or demand the most charitable interpretation of their words, and when they’re accused of hurtful speech or bad acts, they can look past their own discomfort at the allegation and try to weigh it fairly, see if there’s something to learn. This is painful. It’s hard. But it’s also far more right than insisting that the real racists are out to get you.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:18 AM on June 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Paula Deen had some good advice on Fox News about what to do when people say bad things about you. "Some things are just best left unsaid."
posted by leftcoastbob at 1:43 PM on June 25, 2013


I just finished reading a really interesting post by an african-american culinary historian who works on living history sites on this topic. It's sprawling and thought-provoking and, all in all, an pretty compelling perspective.

An Open Letter to Paula Deen.
posted by Miko at 6:04 PM on June 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


“Paula has told producers and Matt Lauer, that she would like to personally apologize to Al Roker before going on the air,” a show insider told RadarOnline exclusively. “This is something that Paula wants to do, and is very important to her.


posted by rdr at 7:56 PM on June 25, 2013


?!?

I think this is part of the problem. I'm starting to resist piling on Paula Deen now, who has become this larger-than-life symbolic figure accumulating all sorts of ideas about race onto her, but then, something like this. Why apologize to Al Roker? What does Al Roker have to do with it? He's a portly weatherman! (I think I'm quoting Jerry Seinfeld there). Is she apologizing to him because he's black? Does Al Roker need to now stand in for all black people in America as the denoument of this reality-morality play? Why not apologize to Matt Lauer? Can't Matt Lauer be offended? Is the idea in her head that it's only possible to be offended if you yourself are the referent of a racial epithet? What about everyone else who also hates racial epithets?

There's something going on in this I don't fully understand yet. I think it's reflective of a dichotomy that's still going on in her head - she thinks she offended "black people." She didn't offend "the principle of racial equality held dear by many/most Americans," she offended "black people," and so she needs to apologize to black people, even if they had nothing to do with the incidents she has become notorious for.

Maybe I'm reading this wrongly, but it seems like such an odd, left-field response, not well thought through, that still reflects a conception of people as mass undifferentiated categories who can be treated interchangeably.

It's an interesting case study. There is a thought complex going on here though I haven't fully teased out how I'd characterize it yet.
posted by Miko at 9:02 PM on June 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Miko, that Open Letter you linked is exactly all of my feelings about this whole thing and I just want to hug that guy to death and also read his blog every day forever.

Thank you for posting that.
posted by Sara C. at 9:30 PM on June 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


YES MIKO sorry for shouting, but, yes. she just doesn't get what has happened here. much like she answered that she would have never called the waiters that word because they were respectable.

i was speaking with my husband earlier - like how is paula deen gonna feel about being this racist flagpost. like, vilified, that sucks for her. but - what of the other side - the side that filled a whole 'nother cruise ship with supporters. now she has followers that have "kill the muslim president" much closer to the forefront. reading all the stuff she has said and done reminds me of a friendly racist, like my mom - that because she thinks she's not racist and that she says that she thinks all people are equal - that matters much more than the racist things she says and does. she always has a reason for being racist that makes total sense, if you ask her. it might be shocking, like it was for mccain once he picked sarah palin - to have suddenly stoked those barely covered racist fires and to realize the detractors were right, but now you're stuck with them.
posted by nadawi at 10:09 PM on June 25, 2013


Oh, look, it's all about her feelings being hurt, and how mean Young People Today Are:
"I believe that every creature on this earth -- every one of God's creatures -- was created equal," she said. She also insisted she's not racist and that there have been "some very hurtful lies said about me."

Lauer asked Deen if "given the same circumstances, would you have fired you?" She paused and then responded "No." He also asked her if she was a racist, which she also said no. "The day I used that word was a world ago -- I had a gun put to my head."

When asked whether people find the n-word racist, Deen said, "I don’t know, I have asked myself that so many times. I go into my kitchens and hear what these young people are calling each other. It’s very distressing for me. I think for this problem to be worked on these young people are gonna have to take control and start showing respect for each other."

Deen appeared extremely distressed at times, but was also adamant about her personal views and ethics. "I know my love for people, and im not going to sit here and tell everything I've done for people of color," she states. "I would never hurt anyone on purpose."

She told Lauer, "I'm heartbroken. I've had to hold friends in my arms while they've sobbed because they know what has been said about me. It's not true."

The interview ended with Deen saying, "I is what I is and I'm not changing." She references the "evil out there" and "horrible lies."
Never said it when asked by Matt Lauer, but did in a legal deposition. Wonder when the perjury charges will come down.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:08 AM on June 26, 2013


"The day I used that word was a world ago -- I had a gun put to my head."

I'm really agreeing with those who are saying this has to be about more than a word. The word is a massive red flag, but it's not about just the use of a word.
posted by Miko at 7:33 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The day I used that word was a world ago -- I had a gun put to my head."

Is there context to this? Is the "gun" the metaphorical gun of the lawsuit forcing her to reveal this or does she mean an actual gun? 'Cause to me this reads as "a world ago, I used the N-word because someone held a gun to my head and forced me to say it," but that scenario is pretty much the most unlikely thing ever, so I'm sure that's wrong.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:07 AM on June 26, 2013


In the deposition, she said that one of the instances that she used that word was when she was held up at gunpoint during a bank robbery in the 80s. So, in that instance, yes, it was a "lifetime" ago and used in a context that I think many people would find forgivable.

That said, her desire to apologize to Al Roker, the fact that she doesn't get that it's about more than the word, and her continued insistence that she is not racist (as opposed to something more enlightened like "I think that, like many other Americans, I need to strive to be better at this") imply that, yeah, she is racist.
posted by Sara C. at 8:17 AM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


She claimed the only time she said it was when she was held up at a bank several decades ago, which means she's comitted perjury by lying in a court disposition where she stated she used that word against her employees in 2010, or merely lying to Matt Lauer to make it sound like (allegedly accidental) racists are the real victims here.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:18 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The part that I don't understand is how she can make an apology video and say how sorry she was for the hurtful things that she said and then tell Matt Lauer that she never said those things. (Except some guy who had a gun to her head during a robbery even after she went out on a limb and got him a bank loan.)

I understand that when her whole world seems to be caving in she isn't thinking straight but for the love of god, someone should tell her to JUST QUIT TALKING.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:18 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Her claim is that she was mugged by a black man and that she called the mugger a nigger when talking about him to her husband.

Watching the New York Times video and that video when she discusses the "harm on both sides" that was done by the civil war is far more disturbing to me than her using the N-word. The New York Times interview shows someone acting like a unreconstructed racist when she knows she's being recorded. I cannot believe that no one challenged her on the story she told about her grandfather's loss of "workers". I can't figure if the lack of response came from her being an old woman, a celebrity, or maybe that people didn't hear just how horrible what she said was.

Maybe the claims in the lawsuit are lies but given the rest of her behavior I'm guessing that the claims are true. If they're true, then at the least she tolerated an extremely sexist and racist environment in a business that she co-owned and I haven't heard an apology for that yet.
posted by rdr at 8:27 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


the paula deen supporters have bought the "lifetime ago" think hook, line, and sinker - that's where all the 25 years ago stuff came from. she and fox news are changing history before our eyes and this will be story told 10, 20, 30 years from now - that she was lost to the PC mob over use of the word in the 80s. it's so depressing to watch this sort of thing happen again and again. at least with the internet, the history can't be completely erased.
posted by nadawi at 8:54 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Five Most Revealing Things Paula Deen Told Matt Lauer On The Today Show This Morning

The TL;DR is "Christ, what a (racist, disingenuous, intellectually corrupt) asshole."
posted by zombieflanders at 9:28 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


An open letter to Paula Deen, by culinary historian and food writer Michael W. Twitty. This one's kind of amazing. A little rambling at points, which is OK given that this is a blog post. Still, be sure to read the last two or three paragraphs.
posted by raysmj at 9:37 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I got it! She should be forced to listen to nothing but Brad Paisley's Accidental Racist for a week.

Unless that's been banned by the Geneva Convention.
posted by desjardins at 10:30 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


This morning I woke up from a dream in which some friends and I had set up camp in a stone circle which was in an oasis which was in an enormous cave, and was the only place left in North America which hadn't been overrun by zombies. We must have flown into the cave because there was a cargo plane there. Then Kate Mulgrew's voice came over the cave's intercom system and warned us that the zombies had found us, just as a single zombie appeared and started berating us for something, but I couldn't understand what she was saying. The irate zombie was Zombie Paula Deen, and she had no eyes.

Then I woke up. I may never sleep again.
posted by homunculus at 10:56 AM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think what is sad is I don't think Paula Deen really knows what she did wrong. And that in itself boggles my mind. But not as much as all the people I know that are supporting her as if she had done nothing wrong. People who I thought knew better. And I am thinking, how can we get rid of racism if people don't even recognize it when it's right in front of their face?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:09 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean, I don't want to crucify Deen and I don't think she should never work again, I just think she should honestly own up to what she did, understand why it was wrong, and STOP it. I am not in the condemnation business but I do believe in facing reality, and I don't think she's facing reality yet.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:10 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think what is sad is I don't think Paula Deen really knows what she did wrong. And that in itself boggles my mind.

My takeaway from this entire situation, really, is that Paula Deen is an exceptionally stupid person. And I mean the word stupid wholeheartedly. She's unintelligent, lacks the mental capacity to approach unfamiliar ideas, and isn't even together enough to just PRETEND she gets it and say the magic apology words that would make the vast majority of people stop giving a shit about it.

She seems like an awful person to actually talk to or spend time around. And not only if you're the sort of person she might hurl a racial slur at.
posted by Sara C. at 11:17 AM on June 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


She's unintelligent, lacks the mental capacity to approach unfamiliar ideas, and isn't even together enough to just PRETEND she gets it and say the magic apology words that would make the vast majority of people stop giving a shit about it.

Except...she did apologize in a video. Her comment under the video (all other comments are disabled for some reason) is:

Published on Jun 21, 2013


"After spending all day soul searching and trying to figure out how to deal with what I did, I recorded a video trying to do the right thing. In the end, I felt that I needed to just be myself, say I am sorry and beg for forgiveness.

What I said was wrong and hurtful. I know that and will do everything that I can do make it right. I am not about hate, and I will devote myself to showing my family, friends and fans how to live a life helping others, lifting us all up, and spreading love."

But then she opens her mouth again an un-apologizes. You're right in that she isn't together enough to just pretend that she gets it.
posted by leftcoastbob at 2:16 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Surprised no one's mentioned that Paula hired famed crisis manager Judy Smith to help her deal with this mess. (tl;dr: Smith is Black)

Paula Deen had some good advice on Fox News about what to do when people say bad things about you. "Some things are just best left unsaid."

Aren't they now...

I just finished reading a really interesting post by an african-american culinary historian who works on living history sites on this topic.

On a slightly tangential note, I'm going to assume this was typed on a smartphone because otherwise I don't get putting "African-American" in lowercase.
posted by fuse theorem at 2:58 PM on June 26, 2013


I am a lower-case american.

[NOT CAPITALIST!!]
posted by maggieb at 3:17 PM on June 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


On a slightly tangential note, I'm going to assume this was typed on a smartphone because otherwise I don't get putting "African-American" in lowercase.

It's a mistake (obviously not my normal usage since I capitalize elsewhere). Some of the keys on my laptop are sticking and misfiring and by the time I saw it it was too late to fix.
posted by Miko at 3:43 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Et tu, Caesars Entertainment & Walmart?
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:16 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, dear Wal-Mart. It's OK to rely on near-slavery production standards and impoverish your workforce while pushing their basic needs onto the public dime, but don't get racist cooties on you!
posted by Miko at 8:33 PM on June 26, 2013


Paula Deen's Downfall, Gwynedd Stuart, Creative Loafing Atlanta, 26 June 2013
Last Wednesday, the National Enquirer ran a story in print and a teaser story online claiming that Paula Deen had been caught on video in the midst of a "racist rant." Racist rant is a stretch from what it actually is — an oddly candid videotaped deposition — but, then again, what do you expect from a publication that uses so many goddamn exclamation points. It's like each one is instructing you to be outraged. But maybe outrage is warranted this time around.

During the deposition, which was taken because Deen and her brother are being sued for discrimination and inappropriate behavior by a (white) employee, the celebrity chef admitted that she has used the "N" word over the course of her lifetime. And things got decently weird when she admitted to liking the idea of hosting an antebellum South-themed wedding, replete with an all-black waitstaff in formal wear.

I read the entire transcript, and while there are more details to discuss, those have emerged as the highlights. Deen says over and over that she doesn't judge people by the color of their skin (or "what's between their legs" — gross).

But the "shocking racial scandal," as the Enquirer referred to it, blew up online nonetheless, and last Thursday, Deen issued a series of apologies via YouTube. By the following day, she'd effectively lost her job at Food Network.
N.B. Naturally, and as usual, the comments on this column run the gamut from somewhat interesting to shockingly racist. However, in this case they are illustrative of the attitudes of Georgians towards this incident in particular and race relations in general. (Hint: As I said earlier, they're not great, but better than they used to be.)
posted by ob1quixote at 1:00 PM on June 27, 2013


They will probably moan and groan about how mean and unfair the Food Network is politically-correct Liberals from the North are.
posted by aught at 1:40 PM on June 28, 2013


From what I see on Facebook, most people think Paula Deen said "nigger" one time 30 years ago and that's why this is happening and there is nothing further to the story, no restaurant, no harassment, no "recalling a certain time in Southern history."

So word police, thought police, black people say it all the time etc
posted by sweetkid at 1:46 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I seem to remember though that "Sambo" was an Indian-subcontinent child with a turban (who tangled with a tiger), not a US Af-Amer.

Maybe, but the cartoon from the 30s clearly used African or African-American racist stereotypes.
posted by aught at 1:59 PM on June 28, 2013


I knew Black people in the South who called them "n-----r toes" as recently as the 1960s and early 70s.

I'm sad to say I had relatives in rural New York state who called them that as recently as the 1970s as well.
posted by aught at 2:02 PM on June 28, 2013


Jimmy Carter says Paula Deen should be forgiven.
posted by jbickers at 2:05 PM on June 28, 2013


Drake caused this!

I don't know why they gotta pick on Drake.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:45 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love me some Jimmy Carter and his response reflects his values, but it sounds like he's among the majority who only heard that she said the n word in the past, and didn't hear about the stuff that came up in the trial. I like that he talks about her charitable program. But it doesn't sound like he had a lot of familiarity with the actual content of the flap.
posted by Miko at 4:50 PM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Drake... Blame Canada!
posted by raysmj at 5:10 PM on June 28, 2013


NYT: Paula Deen's Words Ripple Among Southern Chefs
posted by Miko at 5:20 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that oftentimes, when a story involving both racism and the south is making headlines, there are always a few comments made by people from the south asking everyone, essentially, not to rush to judgement.

You could have easily said this:

"It seems to me that oftentimes, when a story involving both racism and the south is making headlines, there are always a few comments made by people not from the south rushing to judgment."

This can range in tone, all the way from people who sound legitimately worried that they'll be judged guilty by association in a way that they don't deserve, to people who sound like they've got a pretty damn big chip on their shoulder about the whole thing, like they were just waiting for the next time somebody spoke dismissively of the place they came from.

I'm honestly trying not to jump to conclusions here, but it kind of sounds like it might be you that has the chip on his shoulder, and that you're coming from a very biased view. Which is why you're putting the chip on the shoulder of those defending the South rather than those making sweeping generalizations about an entire region.

I'm not 'worried' that we'll have guilt by association. That's a given. I'm not waiting for someone to speak dismissively of the South in these type threads, I know it's going to happen. And I'm sure I have a chip on my shoulder, and I mean this in the kindest way possible, I don't really give a damn if I come off that way, or if you think less of me. People that make sweeping generalizations about entire regions, races, etc. should be treated with disdain, and believing we should tiptoe our way around those opinions is nonsense.

I'm not aware of any other part of the US that people are prone to brag about coming from.

I disagree. Growing up in the midwest, strong New England roots, California, are all subject to very strong feelings of superiority. If you've been on Metafilter a while, you should be aware of the great love for New York City (greatest city in the world, wouldn't live anyplace else.).

I will grant you that the South handles their regionalism a little different. They cling to the past. I disagree with that. It bothers me. The South should be proud of their wonderful, unique cuisine. The South should be proud of all the music that began here. Honestly, add Texas, and if the South took back all the music it created, the musical library of the rest of the U.S. (and much of the world) would suffer tremendously.

But although I completely disagree with clinging to the past, I understand it. If I told you a comedian was making fun of a region, which would you put your money on? The South, of course. They talk funny, they're super religious, they love killing things. In many ways, the defending of Southern Heritage is just that, a defensive mechanism. If you're constantly put down, you eventually say 'fuck you' and embrace it. Again, I hate that, and the South needs to move on from this, but like I said, I understand.

Take what Sara C. said:

For most other people, it's more like, "JERSEY SHORE IN THE HOUSE!!!!" or bickering about whose burritos are better, not threatening to secede over how closely the state flag is allowed to resemble the flag of some slave-owning traitors.

She's completely right. No other part of the country threatens to secede. Also, no other part of the country is told to secede constantly. Everywhere. Many times on metafilter in a thread on the South regarding something negative you'll find a "we should have let them secede". And metafilter is a bastion of civility compared to the rest of the internet. You'll hear much worse, and more, elsewhere.

And I'm not saying being told to secede is why the South threatens to do so. I'm saying it doesn't help, it feeds the fire. I'm saying the reasoning behind this attitude is much more complicated than it seems on the surface.

---

Regarding Po Folks. I went once when I was a small child and I remember everyone raved over it. I went once more a year ago (not by choice, I assure you), and the food was absolutely awful. It made Cracker Barrel seem like fine dining. The fried green tomatoes tasted like an old freezer. So in looking at the reasons why the franchise is just barely around today, don't over-think it. They're awful.

And mason jars. Growing up and visiting my grandmother we actually did drink out of mason jars when the whole family was there for lunch or dinner. Of course, they were only used for sweet tea.

Also, I know of several places in the south that still uses mason jars. I know of a bar that serves their ridiculously priced mixed drinks in them. And recently I went to a pint night at a local pub where you got to keep the glass if you bought a pint of their beer. The glass I brought home was a mason jar with their logo. It was Lagunitas out of California.
posted by justgary at 6:07 PM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


From what I see on Facebook, most people think Paula Deen said "nigger" one time 30 years ago and that's why this is happening and there is nothing further to the story, no restaurant, no harassment, no "recalling a certain time in Southern history."

In my first comment here I said the same thing. That is the story I saw, my wife as well. And it wasn't Fox news. There’s a lot of sloppy reporting out there and that’s a big reason you see such a large defensive reaction.
posted by bongo_x at 8:00 PM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


The thing is, it's not like one becomes a racist by committing some heinous act. One becomes non-racist (to the extent such a thing is possible) through grace.

This grace comes through being raised by educated parents, by being educated by whatever means does the job. And not by just any education, by a very specific, and thank goodness widespread, but not universal, and not til recently common, type of education.

I grew up in a small town in Georgia, knew a KKK member, went to a tech college for a numbers-focused degree, and very nearly didn't receive this kind of education. I am grateful to 1970s Sesame Street, my probably-genetic disposition to be curious, and various struggling teachers for giving me a broader perspective than that of my mother (who probably withdrew me from advanced English in high school because of the teacher's ethnicity, and who has moved houses after complaining about something similar).

Had it not been for all the people to whom I was exposed, through the media and through school, who knows how I'd have ended up, though I might have the best of intentions toward everyone. Even now, I sometimes say or do things that are unintentionally hurtful even to my (same-race-as-me) friends and acquaintances, just through being tone-deaf. I try to avoid hotbutton topics, although they are important to discuss, because if I make one misstep -- bad things will happen.

How can people learn if they can't make mistakes and still be included in the conversation?

Someone that insensitive doesn't need a national TV show, but she doesn't need hate. I think this is exactly the kind of problem Christianity was originally trying to address.

Being as worldly as you all are is a gift. A lot of people have this gift now, but not everyone.
posted by amtho at 11:08 PM on June 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


This sketch from SNL is a classic. It couldn't be aired today but it shows that even 40 years ago, the N word was THE most powerful racist word in the English language.
posted by leftcoastbob at 9:21 AM on June 29, 2013


The Rude Pundit: A Defense of Paula Deen Followed By a Condemnation
posted by homunculus at 1:49 PM on June 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


her grandfather had the woman arrested

I feel horrible for laughing, but this story makes me so darn happy --- a racist with publicly racist statements ... gets busted ... and people care Why?! I don't care. Just so pleased with modern life right now.

I didn't make up the jokes

Oh, dear. I'm going to be laughing for a while, huh? Things are truly "getting better."

Thank you, Internet. This would have not been possible without you.

A Defense of Paula Deen Followed By a Condemnation

wow. that was really bad.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:22 AM on July 1, 2013


Paula Deen: Scapegoat du Jour?, Suzanne Ross, Sojourners God's Politics Blog, 01 July 2013
The brouhaha surrounding Paula Deen, the Food Network star accused of tolerating a racist atmosphere in the kitchen of one of her restaurants, has sent my scapegoat antennae vibrating. Folks are lining up on opposite sides of the issue, to either defend or condemn this Queen of a Southern cooking financial empire. Dropped by the Food Network, Smithfield Foods, and now Walmart, and with a Facebook page populated by supporters, Paula Deen’s accusers and defenders are facing off like battalions on a battlefield. Extreme polarization like this is a symptom that scapegoating is underway, so I suggest everyone take a deep breath and back away from the deep fat fryer while I offer a few scapegoating observations.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:51 PM on July 1, 2013


Paula Deen's lawyer cites the Supreme Court Prop 8 ruling in an attempt to dismiss the suit against her. (Spoiler: the white lady doesn't have standing to bring the suit.)
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:40 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really hate the food descriptions for non white skin in the first place - "mocha," "caramel," blah.

White skin gets it too - cream, milky, etc. This is kind of a strange complaint.
posted by Malice at 4:38 AM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


White skin gets it too - cream, milky, etc. This is kind of a strange complaint.

How about "fishbelly" white, then. Sadly, in the winter, I sometimes approach it myself.
posted by aught at 9:24 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


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