Paula Dean, the TV chef and author of more than a dozen cookbooks, is taking a major career hit over allegations of racism. In a lawsuit filed by a former employee of a restaurant she co-owns with her brother, Dean acknowledged in a deposition to having used the “ni—-” term at some point in her past. Now, the Food Network has opted not to renew her contract, and Smithfield (the largest US pork producer, in the news recently for possibly being bought by a Chinese company) has dropped her as a spokesperson.
I’m not familiar with the details of the case, and have only skimmed a few lines of the deposition. (Available at Scribd.com, btw). But one thing that’s interesting here is what we, as a society, tolerate and promote, and what we condemn and will have no part of.
A CNN article called Paula Deen the “star of Southern cooking,” but I think she’s more like the Saddam Hussein of food.
Without fail, anytime I’ve stopped to watch her show while flipping through the channels, she’s adding two sticks of butter to the frying pan, or measuring three cups of brown sugar. I’m sure many of her creations are quite delectable, but I just don’t know how anybody (Paula, her fans, etc) could aspire to make a lifestyle out of it. It all looks so heavy.
The moral of the story seems to go something like this: if you have three tv shows, write a bunch of cookbooks, rep the pork people and run a bunch of restaurants, all with the almost express purpose to clog arteries and cause heart attacks, that’s okay, just don’t ever – even on rare occasion in a long ago life – say something malicious when it comes to race.
No, it’s not okay to use the kind of language Deen apparently did. Hopefully her heart is true when she apologized, and she is not the discriminatory figure this lawsuit alleges. But it’s interesting to note the contrast in how the media and corporations involved regard these matters.