Wishing each of you, and your loved ones, a safe, festive and tasty 4th of July celebration!
Wishing each of you, and your loved ones, a safe, festive and tasty 4th of July celebration!
Just over a month ago I posted an open letter to American Girl following the company’s decision to retire several of their historical dolls, including Cecile, one of two African – American dolls, and Ivy, the only Asian doll. My letter was seen by thousands of people and I received numerous comments across all social media platforms. Most of the comments were very supportive and even those of you that disagreed with me did so respectfully (for the most part) and I thank you for that. A lot of you asked me to provide an update should I actually hear from American Girl (“AG”). Well, I have heard from AG and I have some thoughts.
American Girl reached out to me personally to discuss my concerns about the inclusion/marketing of ethnic dolls within their product offerings and I sincerely appreciate their efforts. Clearly they do understand how important it is to respond to their customers; keeping in mind that thousands of their current and potential shoppers read the letter. Was there anything revealed that made me see things differently? No. Was there anything in our discussions that made me feel better about the situation? Not really. Ultimately, AG defended the diversity of their dolls across all products lines and assured me that with the release of the new historical line this fall, there would be a more ethnically balanced representation of different eras in our country’s history.
In regard to the Girl of the Year doll, I’m not sure that the company understands the importance of getting this right. While I was not told “no,” they would not ever produce another Girl of the Year of color; I was also not told “yes,” that they would. While I understand that they can’t accommodate every customer by producing a doll in every ethnicity, I also understand that this is a process. You have to start somewhere. Everyone knows that Girl of the Year is the face of American Girl and their most buzzed about product. Sure, they offer ethnic dolls in other lines, but to not offer an ethnically diverse line of Girl of the Year dolls is kind of like saying “Yes, you can come to my party and I will accommodate you, but I’m not going to actually invite you.” AG has to let brown girls be the star of the show sometimes if it wants to maintain and grow its customer base.
Probably, the best result of this whole thing is that the company is using my letter to start internal conversations about the issue of diversity. This, to me, is major because absolutely nothing can ever be accomplished without constructive dialogue. Obviously, I want that dialogue to lead somewhere and the only way to judge if there has been any progress is to see movement on the part of the company. Therefore, I will still be keeping my eye on AG, but this time with my credit card held firmly in my pocket. No more teas, excursions or shopping sprees. At least for now. I am using this opportunity to teach my girls how to be smart consumers. I want them to understand that they don’t need these dolls. They are a luxury that they can definitely do without. Children are never too young to learn about their spending power and that companies really only pay attention to one thing…money.
Thank you all, again for reading, sharing and commenting (including those of you who disagreed with me – a healthy, respectful debate is a good thing). Also, thank you again American Girl for taking the time to respond. Hopefully, I will be able to dine in that pink, black and silver dining room on Michigan Avenue again in the future. I really want you to do right by all of these beautiful, brown American girls.
By now I hope that you have seen the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls and know that almost 300 Nigerian girls have been kidnapped by a terrorist group (Boko Haram) and are still missing. Boko Haram is violently opposed to educating women and has promised to sell the girls into “marriage” (i.e. slavery). #BringBackOurGirls has become the rallying cry on behalf of those Nigerian parents whose daughters were taken from their boarding school in the middle of the night. It is a cry for help from the Nigerian government or any other world leaders that can provide a way for their girls to get back home. I have to say that since this story broke nearly 4 weeks ago, there has not been a day that I have not been grateful to be able to put my children to bed and feel relatively safe. Nor has there been a day that I haven’t prayed for God’s hand in guarding these girl’s minds, hearts and bodies, as well as, providing for their safe return. Living this whole scenario is unimaginable to me and I’m simply heartbroken for their parents.
I am not going to pretend that I have any real knowledge of the cultural and political workings of country of Nigeria and its government. Like you, I saw parents on television and in photos pleading for help and receiving what seemed like an excruciatingly slow response from their leaders. Then the response was less than desirable. I’m sure that there is a lot going on behind the scenes that we are not privy to and that is where I will leave it. However, what I do want to talk about is the speculation as to why it took so long for information regarding the kidnappings to make news here in the United States. To say that the main stream media seemed less than interested in the story would be an enormous understatement. In fact, it was social media that started spreading the story and brought it to the public’s attention. Only then did the networks and major cable news outlets catch on and even then it took a little while for the public to fully embrace this story. Why? I have my theories as to why this wasn’t on the public’s radar: 1) They are brown girls, and 2) It’s not our problem.
I was reading a post by Kristen Howerton over at Rage Against the Minivan about why we, world citizens, need to care about this situation and why she thinks it was under-reported, in which she says:
“… but many (myself included) fear there is a more troubling reason for the lack of coverage: these are African girls. I feel certain that a group of American or European girls, sleeping at a boarding school and stolen by armed men in the middle of the night, would absolutely be the top story. But African girls are Other. The distance, the difference, the ongoing challenge on the continent . . . have these things made us discount their humanity? Are we failing to identify with these parents because of racial or cultural differences? I hope that isn’t true. I fear that it is.”
I agree. I think that it is so much easier to distance yourself from another person when that person’s appearance, surroundings and day-to-day life is so vastly different from your own. We can call it what we want and say that the difference isn’t race, but rather it’s the fact that, for whatever reason we have a hard time relating to those who live in Third-World countries. However, generally speaking (and if we’re honest), when we refer to citizens of Third-World countries, the image that we see in our head is typically that of a brown person, which brings us back to race and ethnicity. I’m not saying that it is THE reason for our initial lack of interest, but I am saying that it is one contributing factor. The question that Kristen raises is valid …have we discounted their humanity?
It’s not our problem? Yes, it really is our problem. Boko Haram has vowed to sell these girls on the open market. They call it marriage, but I call it slavery. Human trafficking is an approximately $32 billion dollar per year industry world-wide. It is third behind the trafficking of illegal drugs and weapons. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today, 70% of which are female and half of them children. The U.S. State Department estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year; and 14,500 to 17,500 are trafficked into the United States annually. Does that bring the problem close enough to home for you? There’s more. There are 244,000 American children and youth estimated to be at risk of sexual exploitation. The average U.S. teen enters the sex trade around ages 12 to 14. The state of California has three of the FBI’s highest sex trafficking areas: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego; while the National Human Trafficking Hotline receives its highest number of calls from the State of Texas. Really, it is our problem.
While it is true that usually children who end up in the sex trafficking trade here in the U.S. are runaways, that’s not always the case and there is some cause for alarm. College professor and author, Rebecca Hains recently wrote a piece on the abduction of the Nigerian girls (Black Girls are Missing in Nigeria and at Home #BringBackOurGirls) and included information on a crisis on the streets of Atlanta:
“Simultaneously, I can’t help but think of their case in the context of another situation, which I learned about this week at the White House Research Conference on Girls, held by the White House Council on Women and Girls. At a discussion during the conference, several attendees spoke to the need for increased national attention to the plight of black girls in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, where reports indicate that about 200 girls go missing every month—victims of human trafficking who are essentially sold, like the Nigerian high school girls, into sexual slavery. Yet this crisis in Atlanta is also flying below the national radar.”
Again, one has to ask ourselves why is this information not more prominent in the news? This time we don’t get the opportunity to say that it’s because it’s so far away from home. This is right here in our own back yard and consider this: The Super Bowl is the single largest human trafficking event in the United States (some say in the world) annually. Think about that. While you were enjoying buffalo wings and beer and grooving to the half-time show, there were young girls being sold like a piece of property. Again, this is our problem – this is a global problem.
What can you do to help these girls make it home? Every time you see an article on social or main stream media about the missing Nigerian girls, click “like” and share it on your social media accounts. By doing so, this will keep it in the news feeds, thereby raising awareness and keeping the pressure on the Nigerian government, as well as, others to help get these girls back home to their families. Unfortunately when things disappear from in front of us, we tend to lose interest. These girls and the girls on the streets of Atlanta; and the girls in Texas; and the girls in California and the approximately 20 million victims of human trafficking world-wide deserve our attention.
It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m doing some cleaning and organizing and reminiscing. This has been a great year for my blog (My first year at that! More on that tomorrow) and I thought that it might be fun to take a look back at some of my most read posts. A couple of these surprised me and, happily, two of them were my favorites. What’s really interesting is the wide range of topics that are covered in this list. Not only is my mind all over the place, but apparently you like it that way! This list is compiled using the number of views across all of my platforms (WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Blogher). Also (and this just blows me away), the first two posts on this list had over 2,000 views each! I recognize that there are much bigger blogs with a much larger audience, but I started this blog one year ago with no goals, no expectations and no idea what I was doing. I just like to write. This is extremely humbling. Thank you! ♥
5) The Last Time That She Knew Me (a personal favorite of mine)
9) FAT! (another personal favorite of mine)
10) ‘Tis the Season for Pumpkin Pie (this one surprised me).
Wow! You guys are angry, aren’t you?! For the past couple of days I’ve been following my Twitter feed and my Facebook page and, well, there’s a really big brouhaha over Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s comments in the recent issue of GQ Magazine. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to say that I didn’t even know his real name until a couple of days ago and I have only seen the show a couple of times due to being held hostage by my niece, who is a fan. I have read a lot of heated comments both for and against Mr. Robertson and I am aware of A&E’s actions resulting from the interview with Drew Magary of GQ (if you have not read the entire article – and I suggest that you do for context – then click here). There are a few things that have occurred to me that I just want to discuss with you.
First of all, and let’s all be completely honest here, is any one really surprised by what this man said? It seems to me that if you have any knowledge at all of this show, his family & their platform and take into consideration just who he is and his background, can you really be surprised? I guarantee that the interviewer wasn’t surprised by his views. What does surprise me is the intensity of the public response. People, I think that this may fall into the “consider the source category.” Moving on…
Apparently, there is a clear misunderstanding of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution regarding free speech. Mr. Robertson’s right to express himself has not been infringed upon. As long as any citizen is not using his or her words to incite violence against another person or the government, they may say what they wish. However, that doesn’t guarantee that those who receive the message will like it. There is always the possibility of negative consequences whether it be to a personal relationship or, as in this case, an employer or just general backlash. My guess is that Mr. Robertson knew that when he said it because it is impossible to be a public person and not understand that reality. Having said that, what I do like is his unwillingness to alter his view depending upon his audience. Regardless of whether or not I agree with your position, standing firm in your convictions is commendable. I wish more of us were willing to do so, of course accepting that there may be negative repercussions.
As a Christian, I am growing increasingly concerned by the tone of the rhetoric that we are not only willing to support, but that we often spew. Regarding the comments made in the interview, as crude and crass as they were, it could have been worse. However, if I have something so precious and wonderful that I want the world to know about it, why would I insult people that I want to draw near? If I really believe that Christ is the answer and his love is what saved me, why would I approach others harshly. Surely we can see how this could further push them away. I am a firm believer that you can say just about anything to someone else as long as it’s said with respect and love. It doesn’t require you to change your beliefs, it just requires broadening of your vocabulary and your heart. So often I hear Christians complain about being portrayed as hateful, crazy and intolerant and I do agree that sometimes it is an unfair portrayal. However, many times we, Christians, play a role in creating that impression.
Finally, “I sho’ do like workin’ in dese here cotton fields all day in the hot, hot, hot sun fo’ next to nothin’, ‘fraid that I might get a beatin’ if I don’t get my work done,” said no Black person ever! Mr. Robertson’s assertion that African-American’s were “happy” before civil rights is just plain ridiculous. None of the field workers complained to him because he is white and they could have ended up being beaten or killed. They were singing to pass the time and historically the words to those old spiritual songs were a way to communicate with one another without their slave owners knowing. Those songs have become a part of African-American culture. Equating African-Americans as being equal to him because he was self-described “white trash” and suggesting that Blacks in general have some universal link to entitlements and welfare is bigoted. There’s really no other way to look at it. Thankfully, I recognize that Mr. Robertson is truly ignorant and deserves my pity not my ire.
So, once again, we find our selves at odds. This seems to happen daily. A country so deeply divided that even a reality television star could have the nation in an uproar. Does that sound as silly to you as it does to me?
Recently I was in the airport with my family when something happened that really bothered me. So much so that now I have to talk about it, because that’s what I do, I talk about stuff. Especially stuff that bothers me. My daughters, Thing 1 and Thing 2 were with me and, as usual, each of them had brought along one of their dolls as a traveling companion. This is one of the dolls that was along for the trip:
The doll’s name is Daphne and, as you can see, she is white. My daughter, obviously, is not. As we walked through the airport to the waiting area to be seated, we passed by several African-American women and eventually ended up sitting across from them. I noted the looks that my daughter’s doll received. It would have been impossible not to notice. I even over heard one of the women say to another “Now, what’s she got those girls with those white dolls for?!” I really wanted to respond and defend myself but, I didn’t. It wasn’t her business and I was annoyed that it was even being questioned. However, I do understand why it was being questioned.
Let me explain. When we moved from Illinois to Texas, Thing 1 had a very difficult time leaving her friends behind. After the move, we came across this doll in Target that reminded her of one of her friends back home. Her name was Daphne. She wanted the doll and I agreed because I thought that it would be a good way for her to find some comfort and let me tell you, Daphne is well-loved. She goes on car rides, plane rides, she’s bungee jumped from the second floor, and rode the scooter around the lake. She has accompanied Thing 1 to the pool on numerous occasions. Her hair looks nothing like this anymore (DESTROYED!) and in fact is probably beyond repair. Yes, my daughter absolutely loves her. Most importantly, she hangs out with the other dolls and they all play together on a daily basis. The other dolls are Black. Here’s proof:
I am well aware of the reasons why many African- American parents don’t want their children, particularly girls, playing with White dolls. I know about the studies indicating that many Black children prefer white dolls because they perceive them as being “better”. I know that many black girls think that the Black doll is ugly, while the White doll is pretty. I know that the doll studies are an indicator of self-worth, but I’m starting to wonder if we have lost all objectivity. There’s a lot more to it than what color dolls they play with. The women in the airport didn’t know me or my girls from Adam’s house cat, yet they assumed that I had been so cavalier in the development of their identity. Not so. In fact, it’s quite to the contrary.
Let’s face it, if you are able to choose where you live based on the quality of the school district and neighborhood, your children are more likely to come in daily contact with people of other ethnicities. It’s important for children (all children) to feel comfortable in their surroundings no matter who they are playing with. The best way to do this is to find common ground and, ironically, children are better at doing this than anyone. They don’t have any baggage. That is until we pack theirs with our dirty linen and hand it to them. They don’t make friends with any socio-economic stereo types hanging over them. We feed them that information, sometimes in preparation for what we believe/know they are going to encounter and sometimes because that’s just where our hearts and minds live. All Thing 1 knew is that her doll reminded her of her friend and she missed her. That’s it! There was no big scandal to talk about in the airport. Nothing to shame me, her mother, over.
However, may I submit that the color of the doll is just a small component of building our children’s self-esteem. Yes, I believe that our children should be reflected in their toys, television programs, books and the world around them. I also believe that we need to give our children experiences that they can own. Support them in sports, music, theater – wherever their interests take them. Be a part of their lives – volunteer at school, coach their team, be a den mom. Surround them with good people, friends and family, who celebrate their individuality and ethnic diversity. Above all, keep it real. Teach them their history and expose them to their rich African-American heritage. It’s a little more complicated than this, but you know where I’m coming from. But, please don’t just assume that every little Black girl that you see with a White doll is a product of a careless mother who doesn’t get it. I get it, really I do, but it may be you who doesn’t get it.
I’m sad. Too sad to talk about it, really. I guess you know how I feel about the killing of Trayvon Martin since my thoughts have been all over the internet in the past week or so (if not, you can read it here:http://www.blogher.com/its-not-just-about-trayvon?from=bhspinner ). I’m not surprised, but so disappointed. And very sad. Too make matters worse, I have spent part of the day reading articles and comments on various websites and finally had to just stop. There are a lot of people out there who gain a lot of courage to say the most disgusting things behind the anonymity of a computer screen. Many have taken what is a tragic event by any standard and turned it into a political issue, insisting that anyone who finds any sympathy for Trayvon Martin’s family is somehow some liberal idiot. While the other side comes back and screams conservative racism. Really? This is a dead 17-year-old kid and that is where we’re coming from? By the way, bigotry and racism belongs to everyone: red, blue, Conservative, Liberal. Every one of us is guilty in some way.
Now, we have to try to find a way to move forward. To make sense of this mess and to heal. To admit that we are a broken nation who often live in different worlds. As individual ethnicities we must fix what’s broken in our own communities before we can earn the respect of others. However, other ethnic groups must not avert their eyes or ignore their own transgressions against another. Honest dialogue is the only way this nation can make real progress. Okay, I’m done…at least for now.
Langston Hughes is one of my favorite poets and I’m going to leave you with one of his poems that pretty much sums up what I’m feeling. Take care.
I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!
I know that Wednesdays here at My So Called Glamorous Life are supposed to be about food but, I have had something on my mind for a while and I felt the need to say it now. I’m sorry and I will get back to food as soon as I can.
I have not talked much about Trayvon Martin – his death, George Zimmerman or the murder trial that is going on right now in Florida – for a number of reasons. For one thing, I think that arm-chair quarterbacking a murder trial is a bad idea. We are not privy to everything that goes on in the courtroom, each side has their own witnesses to support their case, so much of public opinion is based on factors that have relatively nothing to do with this specific incident and the media gets things twisted all of the time. Watching live stream is not the same as being there and ultimately, it’s what goes on in the jurors minds that really matters. So, I’m going to leave trying this specific case to the judge and attorneys in the courtroom. However, there’s so much public attention on this trial , as well as, so much racial and social anxiety surrounding it that one can’t help but to be pulled into it on some level. And, I think we should be paying attention because this case is as much about how American society views young Black men as it is about the loss of Trayvon’s life.
I have a Trayvon. In fact, I have two. My sons. They may have different names, but they fit the same basic profile: Black and between the ages of 18 and 35. That’s it. Black males in that age group are being killed and incarcerated at alarming rates and while it is true that the Black community has to take responsibility for growing instances of Black on Black crime, much of White America has tried to turn its head, or deny any culpability what so ever. The truth is that society views young Black men as dangerous, lazy and violent. It is a blanket statement that creates situations like what happened in Florida ending in the death of a seventeen – year – old, unarmed Black boy. As the parent of young, Black men, I am acutely aware of how dangerous it is for them in the world. I hate to admit it but, often, when Mr. C goes out with his friends in the evening, I have trouble sleeping until he comes home. Although our other son lives away from us, I still can’t help but to be concerned because it’s more than just random violence that plagues our streets and our children. It’s also being perceived as a threat or a problem that puts them in harm’s way. As a parent you try to prepare them to maneuver through what can prove to be a hostile environment. This was always a struggle for me, particularly with Mr. C. because he is probably one of the nicest young people that I’ve ever known. He is genuinely a kind soul and I think that most people who know him would agree. The thought that anyone could ever see him as a threat was ( and is) truly laughable. But, I know that they do and it can be based on nothing, but the color of his skin.
There is a phrase in the African-American community “Driving While Black” (DWB), that refers to the occurrence of being pulled over by a police officer while driving, for no apparent reason. The odds of this happening increase if you are driving a nice car or driving in a nice neighborhood. No traffic violation, no suspicious behavior, no loud music… no provocation necessary. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? It happens all of the time. African – American parents know it’s coming and prepare themselves and their sons for interacting with the police, because if you are Black and male in America, 9 times out of 10, you will have a police encounter whether or not you have done anything wrong. Keep your hands visible; look the officer in the eyes; say “Yes, Sir” and “No, Sir”; don’t just hang out – loiter – with friends, get to where you are going and go inside. I heard my father tell these things to my brothers and I and my husband told them to our sons. I’m guessing that White families have similar discussions but, the difference is that for Black families it is a fact of life, not a suggestion just in case this happens. This instruction will be needed at some point and not because all of our sons are bad, but because of racial profiling. They are all viewed the same simply because of the color of their skin. About a year ago, while we were still living up north, Mr. C. woke us up at about 1:30 in the morning, after being out with friends, to tell us that it had finally happened. His first DWB. We questioned him about the circumstances and he said that there was nothing out of the ordinary. He was a 21 – year – old kid driving at 1:30 in the morning in a college town. Pretty normal. No warnings, citations or tickets were written. No explanation given, they simply asked him for his identification then let him go. He was fine, maybe a bit perturbed. On the other hand, Big Poppa and I couldn’t go back to sleep. We were so glad that we had taught him how to handle himself under these particular circumstances but, angry that here we were in 2012 dealing with the same bigoted BS that our parents dealt with 40 years ago. And, we were scared, no, we are scared for the safety and the future of our sons and their future sons who live in a country that views them and their worth in large part based on the color of their skin.
I can’t imagine what Trayvon Martin’s parents are going through. I will say that I applaud them for the grace and dignity with which they are handling this situation. I have cried and prayed for them over the past year since they lost their son. It just hit too close to home. Post Racial America? No, not really. Actually, that phrase make my blood boil because it is a lie perpetuated by people who just want to make themselves feel better. We still live in a country wrought with bigotry, racism and socio-economic warfare. Instead of lying to ourselves, why don’t we try to make a difference. It would be painful but, real change is always difficult. It would take courage, but real change always requires bravery. It would take honesty, but real change always requires conviction. It would be nice, but I’m not going to hold my breath. God Bless America…we really need it.
Oh, Boy! Where do I start? This week two ladies that I admire greatly, for different reasons, seriously disappointed me. Serena Williams and Paula Deen are currently at the top of their game yet, each of them, personally, got it wrong this week and I feel so let down.
Serena Williams is arguably the greatest female tennis player of all time (sorry Martina and Billie Jean but, it’s true). She works hard and is a great example of what persistence and discipline can do for you. However, her recent comments regarding the rape of a 16 – year – old girl and subsequent conviction of two young boys in Steubenville, Ohio, really rattled me. During an interview with Stephen Rodrick of Rolling Stone magazine, Serena made the following statements:
“We watch the news for a while, and the infamous Steubenville rape case flashes on the TV – two high school football players raped a drunk 16-year-old, while other students watched and texted details of the crime. Serena just shakes her head. “Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.” “
(If you would like to read more of the interview: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/serena-williams-the-great-one-20130618#ixzz2WolrAp8T)
I’m sure that she is not the only person that thinks this way about victims of rape but, let me be very clear that under no circumstances is it ever, ever, ever the victim’s fault. No, this girl should not have been drinking and, no, she should not have put herself in such a vulnerable position, but, guess what? She is not alone because many of our daughters, nieces, sisters and friends make the same bad decisions every day. That doesn’t mean that they deserve to be violated. No is No! It really is that simple. The real danger in blaming the victim is that many women who have been raped don’t tell for this very reason. The victim is the one who ends up on trial. There’s a whole account of what she was wearing. Was she flirting? Was there other questionable behavior? Was she drinking or using drugs? However, none of this means that this girl deserves to be violated. Yet, she must endure this scrutiny in front of the her family, her friends and her peers to see if she was “asking for it.” No, Serena, she wasn’t “asking for it”.
Being the mother of 2 boys, both now in their 20’s, there have many opportunities for my husband and I to remind them that they alone are responsible for their actions when it comes to interacting with girls. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times, “There will be occasions when you will have to show a young lady more respect than she shows for herself.” That is our expectation of our sons and it really should be every parent’s expectation. Anything else would be believing that our young men can’t control themselves. I’d like to think that I raised them better than that. What Serena, and others like her, did is remove all responsibility from the perpetrators and place it solely on the victim: a 16 – year – old girl. No, Serena, you got this completely wrong and YES! their convictions were completely fair.
Paula Deen is the epitome of life’s second acts. Ms. Deen was well into her 50’s when she became a household name. Divorced, with 2 sons and $200 to her name she parlayed her catering business into a multi-million dollar media empire consisting of television shows, books, cookware, and home furnishings. However, it was her recent comments on matters related to race that really struck a nerve with me. Currently, Ms. Deen and her brother, Earl, “Bubba” Hiers are being sued by a former employee citing sexual and racial discrimination.
Side note here: I know that the National Enquirer was the first to break this story however, I have read the actual transcript from the deposition. I would never rely on the accuracy of the National Enquirer as my source of information.
Having said that, the testimony does include confirmation that Paula has used the N-word and told racist jokes although, she insists that it was too long ago to remember her last use of this sort of language. Aside from the fact that I found it somewhat amusing that she honestly thinks that there are ways that one can use the N-word without it being mean or derogatory (hint: there are none), I found nothing shocking in her admission at all. Let’s be real here, this is a 66 – year – old white woman from Georgia. I’d say that it is more likely that she has used the N-word than not. In fact, during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college, I carried mail for the U. S. Postal Service as a summer intern. The route that I was originally assigned to and trained on was in a more established neighborhood and consisted of a lot of older residents. Upon seeing me they complained loud and long to the local post office that they did not want me as their letter carrier because I couldn’t be trusted. The reason? I am black. The carrier who was training me was stunned and disgusted (she was white). I told my parents, who were not surprised at all. They simply told me not to feel bad and do my job. My route was soon changed to a newer neighborhood with younger families. Sad story…sad because it’s true. So, the fact that Paula Deen would use this kind of language, considering the facts surrounding who she is and where she comes from, doesn’t surprise me at all. But, what did get me was her account of the wedding that she would like to throw for her brother:
On planning a Southern plantation-style wedding:
Lawyer: Do you recall using the words “really southern plantation wedding”?Deen: Yes, I did say I would love for Bubba to experience a very southern style wedding, and we did that. We did that.Lawyer: Okay. You would love for him to experience a southern style plantation wedding?
Lawyer: That’s what you said?
Deen: Well, something like that, yes. And -–
Lawyer: Okay. And is that when you went on to describe the experience you had at the restaurant in question?
Deen: Well, I don’t know. We were probably talking about the food or –- we would have been talking about something to do with service at the wedding, and –-
Lawyer: Is there any possibility, in your mind, that you slipped and used the word “n—-r”?
Deen: No, because that’s not what these men were. They were professional black men doing a fabulous job.
Lawyer: Why did that make it a -– if you would have had servers like that, why would that have made it a really southern plantation wedding?
Deen: Well, it –- to me, of course I’m old but I ain’t that old, I didn’t live back in those days but I’ve seen the pictures, and the pictures that I’ve seen, that restaurant represented a certain era in America.
Deen: And I was in the south when I went to this restaurant. It was located in the south.
Lawyer: Okay. What era in America are you referring to?
Deen: Well, I don’t know. After the Civil War, during the Civil War, before the Civil War.
Lawyer: Right. Back in an era where there were middle-aged black men waiting on white people.
Deen: Well, it was not only black men, it was black women.
Lawyer: Sure. And before the Civil War –- before the Civil War, those black men and women who were waiting on white people were slaves, right?
Deen: Yes, I would say that they were slaves.
Deen: But I did not mean anything derogatory by saying that I loved their look and their professionalism.
(excerpts from the Huffington Post)
As an African-American, and a human being, I can honestly say that there is absolutely nothing about the Civil War Era as it pertains to African-Americans, that makes us feel wistful of days gone by. So, while it may have seemed like a lovely thought of a southern style plantation wedding to her, the servers in those pictures were not doing it of their own free will. They were house slaves. They were the property of the owner of the plantation. They had no choice. This alone is a good reason why you really wouldn’t want to go there for something as trite as a wedding theme. Obviously, this was all lost on Paula. This is a pity because it really does point out how simple-minded and short-sighted she is. Paula, you got this all wrong!
I am not going to crucify these women. I have had my say and quite honestly, since neither one of these people have any idea who I am, it’s not going to make a bit of difference to them. However, there is a lesson to be learned here. The lesson is to THINK before you speak. I’m sure that Serena never thought that her views on rape could cause such a stir. Had she thought about it she would have realized that she is a role model for a lot of young women. Maybe she should try to be more of an advocate for them, too. And, Paula probably never thought that the person that she made some of these comments to would turn around and sue her since the plaintiff is white. These days, you never know who you are talking to. You don’t know who they’re married to, who their sister or brother is married to, who their adopted child is or if they are just sensitive to the plight of others. I’m sure that they both will bounce back but, hopefully they will be a bit more considerate and a lot wiser.
The recital is OVER! I’m ecstatic! It was probably the cutest ballet presentation of Peter Pan ever but, the build up has been exhausting. Hours of rehearsals, costume alterations and finally, today’s performance. I’m fried and so is my brain. After we came home this evening I was going through all of the accumulated junk in my purse and I came across several pieces of paper with blog topics written on them (Yes, you would think that I would keep a small notebook or something like that in my purse for just this type of thing but, I think that I told you about my aversion to organization, no?) and thought that it was time for one of my random thought posts because I just couldn’t let any of them go. The good news is that all of these thoughts center around this past week (because it was so long and crazy) so there may be some common thread but, I seriously doubt it.
Random Thought #1: This morning, as my husband and I stood waiting to go into church this really cute elderly fellow approaches and introduces himself. He says that he lives alone and looks forward to getting out on the weekend to meet people. We chat for a while, say our goodbyes and he starts to walk off, then suddenly turns around comes back and says “I want you two to pray for me because I’m looking for a girlfriend.” Yes, you read that correctly. I thought he was going to say that he was ill or something but, no, he was looking for a lady friend to spend time with. Surprised, my husband and I started to laugh and Big Poppa says that in a church the size of ours, there must be several eligible ladies around his age, to which he replies “Yes, there are but for some reason I’m not attracting their attention.” We assured him that we would indeed pray for him and he wished us a good day. So, if any of you have an eligible grandma, great-aunt or family friend, send them my way. Too funny, but very sweet!
Random Thought #2: This week we learned that the NSA (National Security Agency) was secretly gathering information and or listening to cell phone calls of private citizens that may or may not be connected to any known national security threat. Admittedly, at first I was a bit taken aback, after all this is an invasion of privacy. I certainly don’t want anyone to know all of the salacious details of my private life. Then, after I considered what my private phone calls (and my life) really consist of, not just in my dreams, I realized that the person who gets stuck listening to my phone calls will either be sleep or making a list of all of the stores with the best sales. Who am I kidding? Like my husband says, we live a very G-rated life, complete with a Disney soundtrack . So, if the government wants to hear me whisper to my husband during our lunch time phone call “What do you want for dinner, baby?” “Ooohhh, why don’t you whip up some of those pork chops,” he coos in response, then go right ahead. Which brings me to…
Random Thought #3: Have you noticed recently how completely insane people are? One of my least favorite things to do as a blogger is to read the comments section on articles or posts that I’m reading because inevitably there is at least one person who loses his or her complete mind. Straight crazy! They’re combative, argumentative and down right insulting and it doesn’t matter the topic…there they are! I was reading a Facebook post from Macy’s about fashion. Plain and simple, nothing controversial at all unless you don’t like the colors Kelly green and Sunshine yellow together or don’t know what the must have accessories are this summer. I skimmed down the comments list (dangerous, I know) and there it was, someone jumped in with a rant about how they used to work for Macy’s and then went on a personal tirade against the “chain-smoking drag queen” – HER WORDS, NOT MINE – that was her boss and how she was fired and Macy’s sucked. Of course, this only prompted several other people to agree and/or disagree in equally derogatory vernacular. Yep. There are people out there who go to websites or fan pages of organizations that are in direct conflict with their own personal beliefs just to post nasty comments. Why? Again, straight crazy! If you want to witness something intensely sad, read the comments under a post or article on religion, politics or race. You will walk away dismayed but, also, convinced that most people belong in a straight jacket. Which brings me to…
Random Thought #4: As long as I live and am the grocery shopper in the house, I will have at least one box of Cheerios in my pantry. I’m not necessarily a fan of the taste of Cheerios (my girls are) but, kudos to General Mills for standing strong in the face of hatred. If you don’t know what I am talking about, Cheerios recently ran a You Tube commercial that featured an American family composed of a white mother, black father and their bi-racial daughter. If you want to watch the commercial, go here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYofm5d5Xdw. The spot caused such a racial backlash that the company had to disable the comments section on the video. So much for a post-racial America, right? The good news is that the support for the company and advertisement has outweighed the negatives. The thing is, folks, we can all have our own opinions on a variety of topics but, that doesn’t mean that we can be nasty to one another. There is always a way to state your opinion graciously and respectfully. If not, saying nothing works, too.
And finally, I will close with this…
A fellow blogger that I like to read over at Chasing A Daredevil & Twins wrote a post entitled “My Life in 10 Phrases” (http://chasingadaredevilandtwins.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/my-life-in-10-phrases/. I thought that it was fun so here goes:
1. Stop touching her!
2. Why are you crying (now)?
3. Yes, you look very fashionable. 🙂
4. No, I don’t know where your shoes (library books, pencils, back pack, etc.) are.
5. No, you can not have a puppy.
6. Hello beautiful girl!
7. I NEED to stop at Starbucks!
8. Please pick up your toys!
9. Has anyone seen my phone/ the remote?
10. I love you!
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