WASHINGTON, June 26, 2013 – Racism is alive in America. Cooking maven Paula Deen revealed that recently when it was exposed in a lawsuit against her that she didn’t think using the word “nigger” was offensive. In a May 2013 deposition, Deen acknowledged she considered hosting a plantation style wedding for her brother 2007 with all the “fixings” of the pre-Civil War south, including a black male only staff, dressed like a “bunch of little niggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties.”
I wonder if Deen planned to whip the black men the night before to get them into the character of slaves and have them greet the wedding guests “welcome Massa and mam.”
Deen abandoned the idea like the Food Network, Smithfield and the Four Seasons are abandoning her. Deen isn’t the first white person who’s used such racist words. The word nigger isn’t cool for anyone to say, black, white or other. I write about this with regularity and asked why MSNBC host Toure Neblett wasn’t fired in 2012 when he accused presidential candidate Mitt Romney of engaging in the niggerization of President Obama?
What’s striking about Deen’s racist fiasco is she still hasn’t really apologized for her behavior. Appearing on the Today Show, Deen said she was “heartbroken” and had to comfort crying friends who know she’s not the bad person people accuse her of being. The crocodile tears she shed during the interview didn’t warrant much sympathy, as she declared, “I is what I is and I’m not changing.” This is the problem. Deen refuses to take responsibility for the heinous things she said and throws up the excuse it was 30 years ago. But evidence shows otherwise.
Instead of simply ending the interview with a sincere I’m sorry, Deen blamed her demise on, “There’s something evil out there that saw what I worked for and they wanted it.”
The only evil is the behavior exhibited by Deen.
We no longer live in the painful time of segregation where blacks in the South were killed and called nigger with impunity, which is why anyone uttering the word nigger today is so distasteful.
Unlike Deen, the Supreme Court realizes that thankfully America today isn’t what it was 30 or 50 years ago when Congress was forced to pass the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to ensure all Americans had unfettered, non-violent access to the polls. The high court ruled preclearance section of the Voting Rights Act, which required southern states who had a history of engaging in voting discrimination to get approval from the Justice Department before making any changes to voting practices, was now unconstitutional. Prior to the act being passed, racist governors in states like Mississippi and Alabama not only made blacks take literacy tests to register to vote but also beat and killed them for trying.
Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965, about 600 men, women and children marched in Selma, Alabama demanding Governor George Wallace stop his violence against blacks who attempted to register to vote. In his book Shocking the Conscience, Simeon Booker wrote, as protestors began their journey from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama: “The marchers didn’t have a chance … before the order was given and the troopers advanced on them, shoving them back, knocking them to the ground, beating them over their heads and backs with nightsticks. Then came the tear gas, shot directly into the clusters of retreating, terrified marchers, while more troopers charged in on horseback, knowing them down, and galloping over their bodies,” (page 255).
This isn’t the south of 2013. As Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”
Roberts noted in 1965, Mississippi, one of the states that required preclearance, had 70% of whites registered to vote and only 6.7% of blacks but in 2004 blacks outnumbered whites in voter registration. He added this new reality was true in five of the six states included in Section 5, preclearance, of the Voting Rights Act. This means states can move forward with changes to election procedures such as voter ID laws or voting hours, without prior approval from the Justice Department
Today’s so called “civil rights groups” howled it will harm minority voters. Even though for the first time in history blacks voted at a higher rate than whites in 2012 than whites, groups like the NAACP say blacks can’t be expected to get voter IDs or comply with voting hours like whites. In today’s modern world where blacks manage to get IDs to drive, fill prescriptions, board planes, check out library books, buy alcohol, etc. it makes no to say blacks can’t manage to have the proper ID to vote. Black advocacy groups would be wise to examine their priorities. Why are these groups treating blacks like children, brainwashing them daily that they can’t be expected to achieve anything in life without the government’s helping hand?
The biggest civil rights issue facing blacks today is the economic slide we’ve been on as a race since President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” More blacks are in prison than whites; more blacks are born out of wedlock than whites and more blacks are poorer than whites.
Martin Luther King Jr. fought for blacks to be treated as equals not so we could be living in 2013 “still blaming the white man” and providing excuses for why we blacks just “can’t be expected to overcome” and achieve like our white counterparts. In many ways black civil rights advocates, from the NAACP to the Congressional Black Caucus, are like Paula Deen, clinging to a racist past they can’t seem to shake.
Both need to live in the reality of the present.
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