PAULA DEEN AND THE N-WORD
Note to Paula Deen: The use of a racial epithet is not a “mistake.” A mistake is parking your car on the wrong side of the street on street cleaning day because you forgot to look at the sign. A mistake is looking down when you should have been looking straight ahead and walking into a phone pole. On a larger scale, a mistake could be investing in the wrong stock and losing a lot of money. Or buying the wrong house and getting stuck with it. Racial epithets were invented and designed to dehumanize people, to reduce them to objects, to make it easier to deride, hurt, or even kill them. I had a friend in high school who went to Vietnam. After his training he began writing letters that were peppered with an epithet used to deride the Vietcong. It’s how he was trained. It was deliberate. The military wanted these boys to kill, and dehumanizing the enemy seemed like a good tactic.
Racism lives deep beneath the skin. It crawls through the veins. There are people who can hide it for years, even decades. but eventually it comes out. People don’t want your apology, Paula. They want to know that you’re doing spiritual surgery on yourself to understand how this came to be, and to rid yourself of the poison that has apparently coursed through your veins for many years. If that ever happens — and I’m sure everyone hopes it will — you probably won’t need to say anything. It will be obvious.