Updated: Jul 15, 2020
“It’s just what they are; they’re jokes. … Most jokes are about Jewish
people, rednecks, Black folks. … I didn’t make up the joke; I don’t know. …
They usually target, though, a group. Gays or straights, Black, redneck, you know. …
I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.” — Paula Deen
Paula Deen came under fire in 2013 for a slew of racist comments and actions. She admitted to using the N-word; wanted Black waiters to play slaves for a wedding she was planning; was sued by the former manager of her Savannah, Georgia, restaurant for racial discrimination; attempted to get a Black cook to dress up as Aunt Jemima; and while giving a talk in 2012, sympathized with her slave-owner ancestors.
Now, anyone could assume that Deen’s career was over after
having suffered this many scandals, and for a while, it was. The Food Network dropped
Deen from its lineup in 2013, and she faced heavy backlash from
viewers. However, Deen began to rebuild her career almost the
second after she lost it.
In 2014, Deen started a new firm, Paula Deen Ventures. In 2015,
she opened a new restaurant and retail store called Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen,
released a line of pet food, launched a mobile game, and appeared on “Dancing With the Stars.” The same year, Deen began to release new cookbooks and rerelease old ones. Deen continued her rebranding in 2016, as she launched a clothing line, appeared on “Celebrity Family Feud,” and began filming her latest television show, “Positively Paula,” which aired on cable in 2018.
Today, Deen has 339K followers on Instagram, and has been regularly
uploading videos to her YouTube channel. Since the first of these “quarantine cooking”
videos was posted in March 2020, they have received thousands of views.
So how can someone who has received so much criticism for racially
charged comments and actions be silent in a time where everyone appears
to be having a conversation about race? Now would be a great time for
Deen to bring up her experiences, give insight into how she has changed her habits to better herself, and show how she has learned to fix her approach. She learned her lesson the hard way and almost lost everything, so it would seem that she would understand the consequences of her racially insensitive actions. Although she came under fire 7 years ago, Paula Deen can still help today: She can bring attention to her past. As such an influential person with a history in the subject, it would mean a lot to hear her thoughts... now. In the past, she tried blaming her Southern upbringing for her racist behavior, and now she is ignoring the consequences she endured. The repetition of racist behavior and refusing to acknowledge it is what got us into this mess.