In 2002 we ran away from Illinois where we were born and raised, and started a new life in SW Florida. This blog is about me (an eccentric old artist), ROM (my Real Old Man), Isabella (our neurotic Standard Poodle) and Emmy (our crazy snake killing Jack Russell Terrier). Oh- and the neighborhood old people. Life is good in Florida!

_________________________________


Friday, June 21, 2013

Unlike Paula Deen, I Remember The Last Time I Used The N Word-

When I first read about Paula Dean's recent deposition for the lawsuit she has pending against her, I was shocked. Not just that she is a racist, but because as a business woman and a celebrity I would think she'd  have the good sense to keep her racism and insensitivity on the down low. Evidently Paula is not just racist but also incredibly stupid.  During her deposition she said she had no way of knowing what would be offensive to others- bullshit! She'd have to be living under a rock not to know the n word is offensive to many people of any color. She released a video today begging for forgiveness for her "mistake". Holding racist beliefs and uttering racial slurs is not a mistake- it's a mind set. She also has blamed the fact that she's over 60 and was raised in the south. I know many people over 60 who have lived their entire lives in the south but aren't the least bit racist. And it's not like Paula has lived in isolation- she travels all over and interacts with all kinds of people. Paula's excuses for her ugly words and shockingly insensitive remarks prove that she just doesn't get it. Her apologies and pleas for forgiveness aren't because she realizes her racism is morally repulsive, it's because she's terrified her business empire is going to collapse. Here is the video of her apology...




Paula has been quoted as saying she can't remember exactly the last time she used the n word which I think means she still uses it. I have a vivid memory of the last time I used that word...

Let me start with some background. My parents and step parents were all racist, there's no denying it. Black people were always referred to as the n word when I was a child. It wasn't until I was well into adulthood that they stopped using the n word, and even then it wasn't because they had become enlightened. It was merely because it was no longer socially acceptable, not because of a change in their hearts.

In the early years of my childhood we lived in a very small rural town in the Midwest. It was an all white community. Not only was everyone who lived there white, there were not even visitors who were another race. The only black people we ever saw were on our TV and even that wasn't often. I was probably 7 or 8 the first time I heard a serious discussion about race and it was in church. The minister gave a sermon on compassion and tolerance for people of other races. And it didn't go over well with the congregation. My mother stood up in that church and announced "I would rather see my daughter dead than to grow up to be with a nigger". Sorry for using that word but I wanted you to know exactly what she said. I'll never forget it.

I was around 10 the last time I used the n word. We had gone to visit my uncle and his family who were stationed at an Air Force base in upper Michigan. My little brother, who was 4 years younger than me, and I took a walk around the neighborhood, looking for chipmunks that our cousins told us about. I wanted to catch one to take home as a pet (I caught two on that trip). While on our search for chipmunks we stumbled upon the back yard of a black family. The mom and dad were out there sitting in lawn chairs as their two little kids were happily playing on a swing set. The parents said hello to us and gave us big smiles. Then suddenly my little brother excitedly and very loudly said " Look! There's n-----s!". I was looking at the parents getting ready to say hello back to them when my brother's words had burst out of him. I saw the smiles disappear from their faces and they exchanged a look of profound sadness. As long as I live I will never forget the look on their faces, it is etched in my mind forever. It's the day I realized what a hurtful ugly word that was and I never used it again.

I hurriedly apologized and tried to excuse my little brother by saying he was a stupid little kid. But I knew there was nothing I could say that would take that hurt look off their faces and make them smile at us again. I grabbed him by the arm and headed back to my uncle's house. When we got back to the house I burst into tears as I  told my parents and uncle what had happened. Even though the adults laughed it off and told me to stop crying and that everything was okay, I knew they were wrong. Very very wrong. I had seen those peoples' faces, there was nothing okay about it. So unlike Paula Dean, I remember exactly the day I decided to never use that word again.




11 comments:

  1. Wow talk about an aha moment. Great life story, ROH. You were a special child and grew up to be a special lady.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. Trust me, there wasn't and isn't anything special about me.

      Delete
    2. another unique and poignant life experience. Thank you for sharing. Oh, and I beg to differ, you are special, to me at least.

      Delete
  2. Thank you for sharing this. I feel exactly the same way about Paula Deen. I sent my thoughts to Food Network last night and I think they made the right decision. Listening to that lame attempt at an apology this afternoon, I was absolutely incensed. It was only a few years ago she wanted to put on a wedding with the servers dressed as slaves! She feels exactly the same way now as she did years ago. So sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you, Bobbi! Yes, many seem to think this all happened a long time ago. I believe the only thing she is sorry about is the backlash she's experiencing.

      Delete
  3. Thank you for sharing this with us, ROH. We have come far, but we yet have far to go. I don't know Paula Deen, don't have any investment in her celebrity; but the raging division caused by racism in America is exhausting & I hope somehow she manages to use this opportunity to lead those still clinging to prejudices into the light, if she can go there herself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's an issue we'll continue to struggle with for a very long time. We've made much progress and I'm confident we'll make even more progress in years to come.

      Delete
  4. What a story. Wow. Thank you for sharing it. Xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment

      Delete
  5. ROH, where are you? It's been weeks since you blogged. Everything okay with you and ROM?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry- had a family drama going on and then came down with pneumonia and sinus infection. Feeling much better now and ready to get back to normal. Or as normal as I get-LOL

      Delete

Talk To Me!