Racism in America isn't so much on the surface anymore, it's hidden in the weeds and cobwebs
What a week! So many happenings out there on the Americascape; entertainment news, sporting news, and political news – it’s enough to make your head spin, if not surely explode. What I found particularly interesting is how some of these life happenings so easily mesh. Let’s just put the peel back on the onion and see how some of these happenings mesh so beautifully and ironically.
First up, Paula Deen! This week it was revealed that Paula Deen and her brother were being sued by a former employee for sexual harassment and racial discrimination. The case came to court and when called to testify, Paula Deen with the true innocence of a Southern Belle, exposed herself as a woefully ignorant racist. I will not rehash the details here, there are all types of venues on the web where the specifics can be found, all I will say is that I am all set to forgive her. Yes, I said “forgive her.”
Follow my logic on this; it will tie into more important happenings later. If Paula Deen was so gloriously delusional, pathetically misguided, and confessed her sins in such a straightforward and matter-of-fact manner, all the while denying that she is a racist, then in her head, her words and actions were not racist.
Clearly they were to anyone with a firm moral grasp on reality, but to our charming Southern Belle, this was just life as she understood it, and she did (in her head) nothing wrong. The reality was probably just about starting to sink in as she lost sponsors and dollars. Maybe, just maybe, she was at best misinformed about the tolerance people have for what should be a long past attitude.
Closely on the heels of Paula Deen’s mishap came the craziness in Texas to put an end to a woman’s right to choose. Also right up there, the Supreme Court cleared a few major hurdles for the LGBT community to live and share their lives like anyone else. The Supreme Court also put affirmative action on the road to obsolescence and turned back the clock on the Voting Rights Act. These two happenings are of significant interest to me, and tie back into the Paula Deen fiasco with an almost surreal ironic twist.
The Supremes have basically issued judgments that America is now in a post racial world and that factors involving race are not necessarily relevant to things such as voting rights and college admissions. If we extrapolate from that and sprinkle in a little Paula Deen, it basically posits the premise that some people are still racist, but not racially motivated to act on it.
Paula Deen might be racist, but she still hired minorities, would still allow minorities into her school if she had one and she would not limit anyone’s right to vote, but does any reasonably sane person believe that? Let’s not forget that Paula Deen played with the idea of a plantation party where she could use black men as props… I wonder if they would have had a whipping post, or hanging tree?
The Paula Deens of the world don’t even realize they’re racists, and that they judge people primarily on the color of their skin, their religion, and ethnic background. Once they are made aware, they believe it is perfectly reasonable for them to have done so.
Hours after the voting rights decision, Texas moved to implementing a law that they were expressly forbidden to implement under the Voting Rights Act. That move was done by willfully ignorant policymakers whose only goal is to be elected or re-elected. The sad part is, moves to curtail voting rights will propagate throughout the southern states, and the wheels are already in motion in some.
I like to believe that Paula Deen’s ignorance is somewhat less odious than a politicians deviance and that Paula Deen probably would blanche at the thought of people’s voting rights being taken away. But that would be assuming that the rich, savvy, world-traveling southern belle, Paula Deen is truly clueless.
The crux of the matter is that in one corner, we have Paula Deen; irrevocably unenlightened. There are those in that same corner, possibly like Paula Deen (since I believe the only thing she has ever fought for is to keep America obese) who have fought to keep their power over others. In the other corner are those who have fought to turn the tide on matters of equality and inequality; people who have fought to keep the flood waters of ignorance, hate, and recklessness at bay throughout the years.
Are there enough people knowingly or unknowingly like Paula Deen out there to cause a severe amount of damage to the freedom, civil rights, and human rights? And are there enough good, decent people to counteract them and continue to fight for justice for all?
Think about it, how many Paula Deens are out there making decisions on who gets a job, how people are treated at work, who gets into school, who gets health care, what “value” should be placed on a human life? How many people as unaware as Paula Deen are there who believe it is their right to treat people with little or no respect based on their skin color, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender? While thinking about it, remember, she did not feel as though she was doing anything wrong.