Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Double Standards

Indulge me for a moment and watch this short video, entitled "What Kind of Asian Are You?"

Silly that we are so quick to judge appearances isn't it?  And quick to be offended when it's pointed out to us, too!

Why is it so hard to just accept a person for what they are right now?

Yes, this is my blog post about Paula Deen.

I think it's probably fair to start by telling you that I grew up in a sheltered time and place.  The racial mix in my home community was mostly white, white and white.  It's notable that there were a few people there with Hispanic roots and exactly 2 of my schoolmates were Native American.  The only black people I saw until I was well into my high school years were on television, and as a child I was not entirely certain that their color wasn't as pretend as the program they appeared on.  I'm sure I heard some of the adults around me use racial slurs to describe these actors because I am familiar with the words even though they don't evoke any strong emotions in my psyche.

The first time I saw a black person, I know I stared.  I tried not to, but it was awfully hard not to be fascinated by a complexion the color of smooth, rich, milk chocolate.  And I admit I wanted to touch their face and know for myself that they were real.  I didn't.  But I sort of wanted to.  Later on in my adult life I asked myself if I was racist because of my lack of exposure to people of this particular ethnicity. Ultimately I decided no, I am not a racist.  I am not racist because I don't view a person as good or bad, better or worse, or any other comparison, simply because of what shade of brown their skin happens to be.  I connect to people on the level of the heart... by their character, not their appearance.  If you have dark hair and eyes, yes I see it.  But it's just part of who you are in the same way that my brown-ish hair and blue eyes are part of me.

But, I guess not everyone sees it that way.  There's a double standard in America.  And it troubles my heart.

And this is where Paula Deen comes in.

Paula Deen is a celebrity chef from Savannah, GA.  She is currently being crucified in the media because she admitted in a legal deposition that she had used the word "nigger" in a private conversation with her husband almost 30 years ago after she'd had a gun shoved in her face by a bank robber while she was working as a teller.  The robber was a large black man.  That incident isn't even the meat of the lawsuit for which she was being deposed, but came from background questions to determine her attitudes toward other people.  It is, however, what the popular media has chosen to focus on almost entirely.

One word.  Spoken decades ago in a moment of stress, fear and anger determines your character forever.  Seriously?

Admitting to that one word seems to be enough in some minds to destroy her and everything else she has accomplished.  No kudos for being a poor single mother who pulled herself up by the bootstraps and built a wildly successful business empire?  No mention of the charity work and support provided because of that success?  No one cares about the jobs she created in her community?  Apparently none of that matters because she once said a word that is banned from the vocabulary of people whose skin is the same shade as hers.

Contrast that with today's so called primarily young and black "ghetto culture" where the same word is a common reference to one's comrades.  Turn on some rap music, which seems to be anthemic to them, and really listen to the words.  Yes, you might think your ears are bleeding and you might walk away so offended you twitch for awhile, but it is very educational.  Did you hear people who look like Ms. Deen referred to as "whitey" or "cracka?"  Did you notice how every woman is a "bitch" or maybe the extended vowel version "be-otch?"  If that's not double standard enough, did you catch how "nigger" and "nigga" is bandied about as a reference to one's own self and one's friends?

Except that it's not funny, it's almost laughable that anyone can point a finger of condemnation toward Paula Deen for having said it once a long time ago.  Why is the word acceptable in one circle but not the other?  That's the double standard.  And it should not be tolerated!  That it is, I believe, is one reason racism lives on.  A reason why people with different skin tones can't quite lose their distrust of each other.  Something as simple as language will divide black from white and keep the goal of one equal America just out of reach.

And that makes me tremendously sad.

End the double standard.

And look at the sum of a person's life before you condemn them.  Counting back on my fingers, I'm guessing her comment was made somewhere around 1986.  Are you the same person today that you were in 1986?  I know I'm not.  In that much time, I would hope that she's learned and changed and become a better human being, too.  And I'd hope that I'm not judged today by a stupid comment I said then.

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