If there is one constant in the fight against bigotry and racism, it is that the person who is a bigot or racist never believes that they are. The example of Paula Deen is actually a wonderful one. Yesterday, drowned out by the decisions by the US Supreme Court, Paula Deen reiterated that she is not a racist.
The thing is, a racist is defined not by a word, but by their actions. In fact, all bigots are defined not by the label, but by the actions that they take. Deen cried and was tearful on “Today” where she claimed that she is not a racist, but looking at her actions, that is exactly what she is. She just does not see it.
More on that in a moment.
Since her apology, Deen has lost Wal-Mart and Target as her sponsors. While her cookbooks may be flying off the shelves, her empire is largely crumbled. Wal-Mart stated that “any new orders beyond what’s already committed.” Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said for her company that “Once the merchandise is sold out, we will not be replenishing inventory.”
Caesars Palace also cut ties with her.
Home Depot has stopped selling her cookware and kitchen products. Novo Nordisk, a diabetes drug maker, said that it and Deen have “mutually agreed to suspend our patient education activities for now.”
Stories have surfaced of Deen mistreating her Black employees, and of course, using racist language.
The problem with Deen is the same one that the LGBT Community confronts on a daily basis, and the problem is degrees of bigotry. Deen likely doesn’t see herself as racist because she is not hostile to Blacks over all. She isn’t beating Blacks up. She isn’t saying she won’t employ Blacks. She isn’t calling Blacks sub-human.
Instead, she is treating them like slaves, using racist language, and demeaning them.
In a sense, Deen is like Tony Perkins. They share a certain modus operandi. Now, yes, Deen isn’t someone campaigning against Black’s having rights, but look at how they both tend to think. First of all, Deen, like Perkins, seems to believe that Blacks are not a equal as Whites in the way that Perkins tends to say that gays are not as equal as straights. Neither is actively involved in attacking or hurting people, even though they use language that demeans the people they are bigoted against.
To both, it is alright to act or react the way they do. There is nothing wrong with putting these groups down because they aren’t like “us”.
The reason I understand this is because I have my own bigotries. Now, I am not bigoted against race, but I have often found myself uncomfortable with both men and straights. The difference is, I cop to my prejudices and try very hard to not say demeaning things about men or straights even though I am uncomfortable with both. Unfortunately, neither Deen nor Perkins ever plan on being honest about their prejudices. While I am not happy about mine, at least I am honest about them.
I know that this opinion is kind of rough. I wanted to say this here and now, but I am still working on how to articulate what I understand about the issue of prejudice and bigotry not only through my own lens, but through the way it appears in society.
Simply put, though, you can be a racist or a bigot even if you aren’t as bad as someone else.