In keeping with the theme that Don West introduced at the top of a murder trial, let's start the discussion of a serious matter with a little game. Ready? Great.
Raise your hand if you have ever, in your mind, judged someone, or thought yourself better than them based on the color of their skin.
Keep 'em raised if you have casually, in comfort of your close friends or family called someone a demeaning name based on their race. Be honest, y'all.
And finally, stand up out of your chair if you would admit to someone who called you a racist that you have judged people based on their skin color.
I am going to assume you're all sitting.
Under what circumstance is someone going to go ahead and admit that they are racist? I am going to go with NEVER for $200.
With news headlines this week ranging from the trial of George Zimmerman’s murder of Trayvon Martin, to Paula Deen’s public demise of fame due to racist remarks, the stage is set to ask a pressing question: exactly when is a racist a racist?
If the media reports were any indication of what racism was, we would all assume that racism means someone verbally addressed someone of color with the N-word. Devoid of the intent behind the word, devoid of the slave-themed weddings, or the hate spewed “go back to Africas,” or generalized stereotypes, you can only be a racist if you use the N-word oppressively and don’t say sorry.
That’s if you let them tell it.
As a woman of color, I will admit that arguments on the usage of the word "Nigger" open up potential for slippery slopes that argue the word was reclaimed by black people; if it isn’t said with hate, it doesn’t matter. Or the all famous line used by N-bomb droppers: “if black people use it, why can’t we?” I am not here to argue about the N-word, as thoughts, actions and words outside of the N-word can also classify as racism.
But what we seem to be missing is that racism, by definition, is more than just spewing "Nigga" out to a black person, it is a state of mind that is learned, and just like reading left to right, engrained in that person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others.
That brings me back to the southern cooking queen Paula Deen; I am sorry to break your butter loving hearts, but Ladies and Gents, Paula Deen is what would be considered a racist.
She claims to only have used the N-word once in her life when a man was trying to rob her with "a gun dancing at her temple," but carries on to say that the only people she hates are thieves and liars, and if anyone is to think that after this traumatic experience she doesn't, with prejudice, identify black men as such, they'd be sadly mistaken.
She makes jokes about black people, calls them Niggers, admits to wanting to plan weddings with Slave themes, and follows up with apologies that claim “she has a black friend," but yet, stays steadfast to her public facade in which she claims she is not a racist.
Then what should we call her?
The odds of Paula Deen risking her millions, her ground built company, and her brand to admitting that she was a racist were slim to none. But did her mouth really need to say it when her actions spoke otherwise?
If we were back to playing games and telling jokes, I would once again go with NO for $200. In her mind, Paula Deen wasn't a racist, she was just acting on the prejudice that was instilled in her, but if we're calling it, let's call it...Nobody is a racist until their racist tendencies are brought out of the dark, and the stovetop light is shining bright on Paula Deen.
I know this seems like beating a dead horse, but it's a really good read