Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,2 July 2013

The Snap:

I used to tell everyone I was going to marry Paula Deen’s son. I thought he might be gay but that was okay because Paula would still be my mama-in-law and cook me delicious foods and call me “Baby Girl” and I’d call her “Mama Deen.” It was a detailed plan except that I’d never met Deen or her son and had no idea how to pull it off. I kinda liked the other son better but I worried destroying his marriage would not endear me to Paula. My plan fell by the wayside when the possibly-gay-son got a girlfriend and we found out Paula had diabetes and knew her cooking played a big part in that, but went on larding up the rest of us for 3 years.

The Download:

Ever since the media frenzy over the lawsuit filed against Deen, friends have been saying I must be relieved I didn’t marry into the family. I find it sweet yet disturbing that I managed to convince so many friends that my delusion would possibly become reality, but I also don’t know what to say in response.

I don’t know what drew me to Paula in the first place. I’d struggled with my weight all my life and after dropping a substantial amount of lb’s in my mid-20’s, the last thing I would eat was the fatty fried food that Deen served up. I think it was something about her laugh and the comforting way the recipes sounded – – homey and delicious. People started buying me her cookbooks but most of the recipes scared the crap out of me so I’ve only tried a few. They are delicious but leave me feeling a bit queasy.

Deen’s admissions about what she said, along with the allegations against her, are so disappointing. Not that it’s hard to imagine a woman of her background using such a word but it does make me feel letdown. The Paula Deen in my head had nothing but kind words to say and sweet things to cook. She wouldn’t be ignorant or mean-spirited – – she certainly wouldn’t create a work atmosphere where sexism and racism abounded.

I don’t know what to believe. There are many stories out there and all of them fraught with emotionally-charged language. So far she’s admitted to using the N-word once (really? once?) and wanting to create an awful wedding reception for her brother that glorified some of this country’s most horrific traditions. That doesn’t make me think she’s evil to the core but nor does it make me feel warm and fuzzy either.

The only good that may have come out of this is the potential to have a real discussion about race in America today. Falling so close on the heels of Justice Scalia assuring us that there’s no need for the Voting Rights Act because we miraculously entered a post-racial society, such a discussion seems warranted. The question is how do we talk about it without going at each other’s throats?


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Hat Tips:

New York TimesHuffington PostNPRAtlanta Daily WorldBaltimore SunSalonPolitico, Image Credit: Flickr

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