Photo courtesy of

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.


  1. Wow. Great post Patti. Every point dead on.

  2. Ernest Salas says:

    Powerful note for everybody to read and apply if necessary. Thanks, Patti

  3. Dr. H says:

    I happen to live in a state where the Tea Party right wing legislature and governor (former US Senator) have systematically reduced the budget on education; made it illegal to have unions deduct contributions from one’s pay check for political campaigns; made it almost impossible for women to obtain an abortion for any reason; require a government issued photo identification in order vote; have a birth certificate in order to register to vote; legislate away funding for the arts; had my House of Representative 2nd District congressperson tell her constituents that she feels there are “great white hope” in Washington DC; have heard folks talk about how they are going “jew” down the price of something; listened a local county commissioner claim that “he was not going to “n ger” a job; had a state legislature tell his colleagues that it would be cheaper to gun down illegal immigrants in a helicopter than pass a law…

    And could go on. Paula Deen’s “N” word statement is just the tip of the iceberg in the US. She represent a deep rooted racism in the US and if NOT opposed publicly and forthrightly develops into institutional racism.

  4. Gregory H says:

    Wonderful post, Patti. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for expressing the truth so eloquently.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *