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rpannier Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-27-13 03:20 AM
Original message
On Paula Deen and Belonging to a Group
A couple of points about the Paula Deen situation

The family of my grandmother (father's side) came from Ireland over a hundred years ago. When I was really young, I would be at events that her relations would attend, some of them had the Irish brogue from the old country. To hear the things they'd say would curl your hair. They used all kinds of slurs to describe the Irish when they were angry at a friend, an in-law or other relation.
However, if a person who is not Irish made the same slur that person would get their ass kicked.
Because you're not Irish. Even my grandfather, who was not Irish would never utter those slurs because he wasn't Irish.
Being a part of a group, fairly or unfairly, gives you more leeway because the context of the comment is understood.
My great uncle calling his brother a dumb, shanty, mick is different than a person who is not Irish calling him that.
One is a hate-filled slur, designed to disparage a group of people, the other is a frustrated comment used in a fit of anger or frustration, but not designed to slur a whole people.

I am married to an Asian woman (half-Korean, half-Japanese). The comments she makes about Koreans and Japanese I would never in my wildest thoughts think, much less say. When she utters them I just leave the room or sit quietly and shut up.
I'm not Asian, I don't get to say the things she says. If I said them they would sound like I was denigrating a whole race of people.

Paula Deen is not black, nor am I. Therefore we are both excluded from using that word and a whole host of other words about people from different racial groups. Call it tribalism, call it unfair, call it what you want; having heard the word used on the radio or on TV does not give you license to use it.
I would also add, from my mother, "Just because it's a word doesn't mean you get to use it."

The second point:
Having discussed having a Plantation Wedding where black men dress as slaves sort of negates her I used that word a long time ago.
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-27-13 05:15 AM
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1. I'm with you on this, rpannier.
My mother's family were 1/2 Irish. And 1/2 German. When I was growing up there were no better people than the Irish and the Germans, especially if they were Catholic. It was funny. Even though we grew up in that environment it didn't seem to affect our perspective at all. We simply didn't notice the differences, I guess. But my mother had these ethnic and racial blinders on until her death.
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lbrtbell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-27-13 05:49 AM
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2. That's an interesting perspective
My Irish and Welsh ancestors came to this country around the same time as yours. But there is one huge difference, compared to what you describe.

Never, under any circumstances, would any of my relatives use any racial/ethnic slurs against their own people. Ever. That just wasn't done. Our people took enough of that BS from the British, and it certainly wasn't acceptable to use that sort of language here.

Maybe it has to do with where in Ireland the immigrants were from--mine were from County Wexford, and lived in an Irish colony in Nebraska. But being Irish was a source of great pride, never anything to be ridiculed under any circumstances. Even the Irish people who hated each other like poison would call their enemies SOB's, generalized curse words like that, but never anything like mick, paddy, or (the worst slur IMHO) n***er turned inside-out. I'm not saying my Irish ancestors were better or anything like that, just that it was incomprehensible to even consider saying such things. You were proud to be Irish--period.

As for my Welsh ancestors...well, I can't comment on them, because my mother (the only one alive who remembers them) couldn't understand their accents at all, LOL.

Regarding your wife, being half Korean and half Japanese must be the ultimate in inner conflict. :)

On a more serious note, when people make racist comments about their own race, it's just as bad as an "outsider" using those terms. Why? Because tearing apart your community from within is as harmful as being oppressed from the outside. Especially with people who have been oppressed as much as the black community, it infuriates me when they refer to each other as n***er. It's absolutely wrong. When you use it among yourselves, it gives justification to others who would use it. I mean, I don't want to be called a c***, so I'm not going to use that word when talking to other women, either. To do so would be hypocritical, as well as stupid; if you find a word offensive, you should never use it.

Does this make Paula Deen right? Hell, no! I'm glad to see her career in a tailspin. Every time she makes a video or goes on TV, she makes it worse for herself by revealing how much she just doesn't get it.

But here's who needs to be excluded from using the N-word: EVERYBODY. It's not acceptable for any American to use it. It represents a horrible time in American history that needs to be regarded with shame.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-27-13 08:03 AM
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3. I feel ya, rpannier. But Deen was trying to excuse and deflect.
This was never about the things that young people say to her that make her cry.

This is about her brother and her treating an employee improperly, which improper treatment including many racist remarks in the presence of an employee who has mixed race nephews.

Paula Deen has tried to make it about a hundred other things, but that is what it is about. And she is not repentant in the least, given that she said to Matt Lauer, amid much tear-free sobbing, "and I ain't changin'"

When I heard that, I hoped the employee would take her for all she's worth--and that's probably billions.
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