Paula, Paula, Paula……

As someone who was born and raised in the South, one thing that we pride ourselves on is our ability to “throw down” in the kitchen. Dinner time has become a staple in our families as it is our time to showcase our cooking skills at the table. Collard greens, yams, peach cobbler, fried chicken, and cornbread filled my heart and my stomach with pure bliss and satisfaction. And Paula Deen, you’ve brought many of these traditional Southern dishes to us on television. And until the other day, I was an avid fan of the little piece of home that you provided for me every time I turned on the Food Network and heard your sweet, southern voice that caused even a “yankee” to smile.

But you disappointed me and many other people who have admired your southern cuisine recipes for years. Really, did you think that we’d give you a pass? Did you think that we’d be okay knowing that you use the n-word as if that word is not offensive to an entire race of people? Did you think that we would overlook the underlying racism that you’ve clearly attempted to conceal from the media? Your naivety is showing, much like your subconscious bigotry.

Did you think it’d be cute to have black people serving you at a wedding and to refer to them as slaves? You thought that your peers would find this humorous and entertaining? You thought it’d be fun displaying blacks as if they were in a 1910 minstrel show? Well I don’t think the African American community finds the exploitation of black people in the least bit humorous or entertaining.

I can only hope that you’ve learned from this incident and that the rumors of discrimination and sexual harassment in your workplace are not true. I do know that you were raised in a time where segregation and discrimination was very prevalent in the South, but I do not completely excuse you because of that. As a matter of fact, I think that you should know better, as a well-traveled national icon, and do better. I hope that you have realized that while your upbringing does have some impact on your development, it certainly does not have to dictate who you are.

But I also don’t completely blame you. I think that you can work to prevent stigmas and racial stereotypes and project a more positive image for fellow southerners. It does raise the question of how much a person’s upbringing affects you mentally. History has taught us that it can affect us quite a bit, but our past does not have to define us. We can take the good elements and run with them and leave the bad where they were…in the past.

After all, the past did teach you everything you know about that divine bread pudding recipe.

How Do You Feel About the Controversy Surrounding This? Do You Forgive Paula Because of Her Southern Upbringing? 




5 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Paula Deen


  1. Bonez 7 years ago

    I met a guy a few days ago, he is Caucasian, and he use to work for Paula in her Savannah restaurant a couple years ago and he told me of how she didnt let blacks work in the restaurant just back in the kitchen because she didnt want people thinking she liked blacks. As a result of this she got sued and ended up hiring a black gay man as a waiter just to quite down people and cover both bases (blacks and gays). Being from the north this was disturbing that not only is she prejudice but also she is scared that people would think that now that shes mainstream that she might like blacks and gays and goes out of the way to show her prejudice is just disgusting.

    1. Lessons From Happy Hour 7 years ago

      That’s a shame. Well I’m sure she, like everyone else is starting to realize that times are changing. This country is starting to become more accepting and embracing of people of all races and sexual orientations. She’s realizing that she can’t have whatever prejudices she had in the past bc things aren’t the way they were then, now.

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  3. Happy Person 7 years ago

    What great commentary! Being a Southern girl, I can totally appreciate the way you kneaded the verbal dough to describe the “buttery” bigotry that still exists in what was dubbed a post-racial society.

  4. Pingback: Paul Deen: “I is who I is and I’m not changing.” | LESSONS FROM HAPPY HOUR