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  • 28Jun

    NOTES FROM THE PRESIDENT: Not surprised by Paula Deen…


    Wes Jackson is the President of Brooklyn Bodega.

    Deep down I don’t think many (especially Black, white, Latina, Asian, multiracial etc.) are surprised by the Paula Deen mess. Ultimately, we all quietly accept that inappropriate jokes are made by friends of other races in the solitude of a homogenous gathering. Some of it is venomous, some of it is ignorant, and some of it is just stupid. However, Deen’s faux pas was emblematic of so much more.

    A deep Southern drawl and typical Southern ways defined Deen’s rise. I am a Food Network watcher so I knew all her shows, and am acutely aware of her interplay with her sons and husband, all which typified the stereotypical southern experience. Her recipes were arguably silly, and frankly nothing I ever really wanted to make. They were just as over-the-top as her brand – a brand that, when considering just how “Deep southern” it was – could easily include a classic, overtly racist “Deep Southern” wickedness.

    Now having washed their hands free of the situation, it’s important to look back at how short-sighted Food Network may have been in embracing parts but not expecting the whole of the “Southern stereotype.” The channel loved it. It was good for ratings. They liked it so much they would go on to replicate the Deen charm with a Black couple when they signed up The Neelys. Another sugary sweet couple, they flirt while cooking and talk about grandma’s recipes, collard greens, and ribs. The Neelys annoyed me at first as I thought they were “Manatan Lupan’ing” it. But their recipes were actually useful and good. And I liked seeing a happy Black couple on TV especially juxtaposed with a “Love & Hip-Hop” or “Real House wives of East Bubble Ville”.

    In reading what Paula said in that deposition, the other, “darker” side of the “genteel Southern Lady” was exposed. Between the lines of ‘Hey Y’all’ is a return to the ‘old’ Savannah, Georgia. The one before the brutish Northerners came down and squelched the Southern Way of Life in the War Between The States, as my 5th grade teacher Mr. Archer used to call it. The world of white gloves and gentlemanly servers. Summer nights sipping mint juleps. You know the world where you owned Africans and forced them to work like cattle. Where racial epithets and sexual harassment was just good old fun. Deen’s comments – not unlike her brand – was a shining example of not just a time when when a slab of butter, a pound of sugar and your diabetes medicine would make everything well. But also an example of an era before civil rights, and feminists, gay marriage.

    We now live in a world where the niggers, the spics, the kikes, the whops, the Catholics, the faggots all are up there in the North. Co-mingling. Having mixed babies, fornicating and not going to Church on Sunday. Paula Deen’s comments were not meant in disrespect, but were said in an era where they can be taken disrespectfully. In antebellum America, people of all races, sexual orientation, and genders demand respect. We have the power of the pen now. Disrespect it and find yourself making You Tube videos apologizing to Matt Lauer.

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