Mercy For Paula Deen, and for ourselves/Deliverance?

July 2, 2013 by  

Paula Deen at event

 As recently as September 22, The Examiner reported that Paula Deen not only headlined a cooking show in Dallas but she was received with great enthusiasm by over a thousand fans, many of whom waited for autographs and took pictures with her. Paula was grateful and tearful at her reception. The event was The Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show, held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. The return of Paula Deen did not start there. It is a case of the hearts, or perhaps the tastebuds of regular people making their own decision. With condemnation there should be the hope of forgiveness and redemption. Frankly, I am happy to witness this return to grace, not just for Paula but for all of us. One day we may need grace, especially, if we're as guilty as sin. Below is my original article, written before the turn of the tide. Forgiveness truly is divine. To seek it is one thing but to give it is an amazings gift.


It is so ironic that a word once freely used to degrade and dehumanize African Americans now has the power to inflict swift and powerful retribution on the one who used it or uses it, in private, as well as in public.

The sanitized version of the word is "The N Word." I grew up hearing the raw version, shouted from buses or passing cars. I clearly heard, "nigger, nigger, nigger." My soul shrank back each time and the fire of anger rose within me. In those days in the South, it was a rarity to talk to a white person who did not use the word, albeit, benevolently, as in "You are one smart nigger." Those rare whites who spoke to me as a person, not as a mindless faceless mass of color, had my respect, and my love. Such people as they helped my self-confidence to soar.

Those days of fearing what someone else would call me are long gone. I am as I think I am. Others do not rule my mind. We are not just what we eat. We are our environment and what we are taught, all of us. We are most of all what we think.

Paula Deen said that she used the N word after a Black man put a gun to her head in a robbery attempt. Well, after such a traumatic experience a person may say anything. At such times, we may forget our social graces. We are being pushed by primal energy to do what makes us feel strong again. From my vantage point the rush to destroy Paula Deen after her admission are acts of pure madness. They do not reflect any virtue of the business world. It  only shows us that corporations will do anything, even  toss the golden child on the fire to protect the bottom line.What happened to "stand by your man or your woman"? Deen has not been found guilty of any crime yet but alledgedly her  saying the N word sent corporations into a frenzy as they worried about their standing in the market place.

In moments Paula Deen's world began crashing down around her. One company after another abandoned her. While I salute the companies for closing ranks to protect me from the "dangerous," Paula Deen, I do not appreciate that they chose to be merciless. Deen does not merit total destruction for her choice  of words. A re-education would have done the trick. She came from a time when the word, nigger, naturally rolled off the tongues of many whites. They thought nothing of it, and we thought of nothing else.

Times are different now. I do not know but there are those who say Deen lacked tolerance for people of various cultures and orientations, and said as much openly in her workplace.


However, even people who are not at all racist in practice will speak of different cultures in unflattering terms when they are among friends and family. They are exercising freedom of speech. They do  not censor themselves on their home turf. Educated, sophisticated African Americans do this, too.

We now have a Black president in The White House. Serena and Venus Williams rose to the top of the Tennis world and Tiger Woods established a place in History in the field of Golf, and there is so much more. We can speak for ourselves.

My sense is that African Americans could forgive and forget Paula Deen's misstep and go back to watching her show. I base this statement on an unscientific poll I conducted before I wrote this piece. Nearly everyone was willing to forgive her and let her continue her work. One person, a minister said, Paula Deen is black. There is no other way she  could fry chicken so good. The minister was being Scientific. Forgiveness is the legacy of Black America, after all.

Nat Turner was my great, great uncle. I am no fan of lynching. It seems to me that Paula Deen is being lynched. I am taking note of those companies who are simply following the leader, to destroy her.

Where was this indignation and protection when we really needed it?

I hate the N word...nigger but I would hate myself even more if I was so vengeful as to promote the ruin of a person for simply using it out of their own ignorance.

I was arrested in 1969 for my part in an orchestrated sit-in. Though there had been hundreds of participants on the campus of Queens College. Most ran at sight of the police. Although I was a young Journalist, I stood with the symbolic few who had allowed me to stay with them for the full duration of the 5-day take-over of the Social Science building.

The arrest force was made up of 500 Tactical Police officers. I was the only Black person. The protest leader of Students for a Democratic Society called for the group to surround me. They wanted to protect me. Later when we were separated I entered hell. I volunteered no information as the police  interrogated me, My father had taught me, "If you are ever captured, give nothing but your name, rank and serial number." I was stoic.

Suddenly it happened. The police officers attacked me with their fists. What really hurt to  my soul was as I noticed the American flags stitched to their uniforms, all I heard was the negative mantra, "nigger."  At that moment I felt that I did not count as a human being in my country. The police were suppose to serve us all but in that moment in time they were trying to strip me of my manhood. I would stay Kunta Kinte. I would never be Toby. There is far more to this story but the point is the above case shows true racism.

The victim is rendered powerless. When there is just a case of uncultured language the subject can balance the effect by a witty response or by moving on. We must practice bringing our emotions under our control. We must wrest power a way from verbal predators.

There has to  be balance and compassion when we act. I have decided I love Paula Deen for how she has carried herself in The Light all these years. The scripture says, "Let your light so  shine before the world that men may see your good works and glorify the father which is in heaven."


No one knows better than God how screwed up we all are. Here we are being asked to promote the good, not the darkness. It is taught that God is love. Love heals, and love surely forgives.

It is my prayer that Paula Deen recovers her smile and her critics forgive. There is another scripture  that we should all meditate on... "Judge not that ye be not judged." Here  God gives us a pass, if we give others a pass. You will understand that forgiveness is divine when you crave it in your life. It would be a good idea to practice these principles now.

Paula Deen


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