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Shelby Says: Is Paula Deen done?

July 31, 2013

By Shelby Woodall

If you channel into the Food Network, you may just be welcomed with a resounding, “Hey y’all!” Or will you? Paula Deen is a well-known and arguably well-loved celebrity chef whose signature mediums are butter and Southern charm.
Recently, Deen has undergone some hate because of alleged racial slurs and behavior.
A former manager at Deen’s restaurant, Lady and Sons, in Savannah, Ga., sued her and her brother for sexual and racial harassment. Deen has admitted to using certain racial slurs. However, she claims to have used these words not as derogatory terms or in a racial joke, but to repeat things that were said to her. As a consequence for what she was blamed for, the Food Network has officially agreed to not renew Paula Deen’s contract for the three shows she is featured on.
Not only that, Deen has lost over $12.5 million in endorsements from major companies such as Sears and Walmart.
But is all of this reasonable? Let’s look at what our country was like when Deen was raised.
She grew up in Albany, Georgia when Southern America had segregated libraries, restaurants and even bathrooms. Which, of course, is inappropriate and has left a permanent stain on the history of our beautiful country.
Back then, the racial terms were not used as we use them today. Words that we would frown upon today were more commonly used back in those days. And, might I add, no matter the decade, those words are intolerable and should not come out of anyone’s mouth for any reason.
I am in no way approving of the use of these words, then or now, because colors of skin should not be labeled. However, when we consider modern slang to the slang of those days, we can see a dramatic difference.
I can tell you right now that today’s young generation uses completely different words from those of my grandparents’ generation. That is simply because we are children of the 21st century.
As you can probably tell, I am a Paula Deen fan. I do tune into her shows every time I get a chance. And it upset me highly when they were removed from the air.
However, that is not because I am a racist or because I use racial slur in my daily vocabulary, because I don’t. I see all human beings as equal —yellow, blue, black or white.
Nevertheless, the vocabulary of yesteryear should not constitute punishment on those living today. I hope that in 30 years’ time, if God wills that we are here, I don’t receive hate for the words of my raising.
Perhaps we can learn a valuable lesson from this as the generation of America’s future leaders. Language is a massive influence in our society and we can use it to our benefit or we can use it to harm each other.
I can assure you that my future children will be raised under a roof where language of this sort will not be tolerated. They will realize the fine line between what should and what should not come out of their mouths from the day they are born until the day they leave this world.
I would appreciate your opinions on this issue. Please contact me via email.

Shelby Woodall is a student in the Bryant School District. She may be reached at shelby@shelbysays.com. Her column appears each Tuesday in The Saline Courier.

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