.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Blog of the Grateful Bear

ramblings of a freelance panentheist {"all things are in God, and God is in all things"} . . . musings on Emergent spirituality, powerlifting, LGBTQueer issues, contemplative prayer, mysticism, cats, music, healing, and more. I like my coffee and my existentialism dark-roasted.

My Photo
Location: Marietta, Georgia, United States

I'm an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), in private practice in Marietta, Georgia. My writings on queer spirituality have been published in Whosoever and several other magazines. I live in a house-in-the-woods (Bear's Hermitage) in Marietta with Leonidas (Lenny) and Guy, Mighty Warrior Cats, and way too many books.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Paula Deen and “the N-word”

I’m not a fan of Paula Deen. She made a living pushing diabetes-inducing recipes and kept her own diabetes a secret until she found a way to make money from it, by promoting Novo Nordisk's diabetes drug Victoza. Her admission of using racial slurs in the past, which is in the news this week, is not a surprise to me. She’s from Georgia, as I am, and I know there is a lot of racism here, often hiding behind jokes or behind a charming Southern Belle façade.

That’s why I’m bothered by the way news outlets and even court documents in Paula Deen's case refer to her use of “the N-word.” When we see or hear “the N-word” (or “a racial epithet”) instead of the blatantly offensive word “nigger,” we are sanitizing the racism that is a very real and very disturbing part of life in America today. We are shielding ourselves from the ugliness of racism. 

I’m also bothered by the double-standard being used in news reporting on “the N-word.” When NPR, the New York Times, and other news media report on the homophobic activities of Westboro Baptist Church and other hate groups, they quote the signs and phrases that are used by such groups, such as “God Hates Fags.” They don’t refer to “God Hates F-words” signs. 

I’m reminded of how one of the contributing factors in the ending of the Vietnam War was TV news. For the first time in history, everyday people removed from the battlefields saw the horrors of war on a daily basis, broadcast into their living rooms. War was no longer an abstraction from which they were removed; they could see its reality and its ugliness as they ate their dinner. Public opinion against the war increased. Perhaps if we stopped distancing ourselves from the ugliness of racism by censoring its offensive vocabulary, we could help increase public opinion against racism – or at least against the “acceptability” of racism in the kind of jokes Paula Deen tried to defend in her court deposition.


Anonymous Charles Kinnaird said...

As a fellow SOutherner, I,too, have a problem with focusing on the "N" word while we overlook endemic and institutional racism that exists across the country. Chris Hayes hosted an interesting brief panel discussion about this last Friday on MSNBC: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/all-in-/52280166/#52280166

11:40 AM, June 25, 2013  
Blogger Queen of the Hill said...

linguists talk about words a lot, and a friend of mine said "nigger" was the hardest word for him to say in front of a classroom, much harder than "the F-word" (you knew that phrase was already taken!). There is a difference between talking about a word and using the word in a hurtful way. Of course a lot of racism is being expressed this week without that word ever coming up. At least she was honest. The thing I like about Deen is that in this day and age she was willing to show people how to make fried foods despite their stigma.

10:07 AM, July 19, 2013  

Post a Comment

<< Home