KATIE ZERR: Where do we draw the racism line?


The revelation this week that the Food Network’s southern belle Paula Deen  had used a racial slur and had at one time considered a plantation style wedding with an all black serving staff shouldn’t have surprised anyone.

Deen was raised in a different South, where it has taken a very long time for some Southerners to let go of what was considered right 50 or so years ago.

One only has to visit some places in the South today to hear racial slurs are still used by the general public.

In fact, if one would listen closely, derogatory terms used to describe black men are thrown around more today than in recent past, mostly when people are discussing President Barack Obama.

No matter how loudly they deny they would use such slurs, one only has to listen to discussions about politics in certain circles and the words will pop into the conservation. If a person uses a term among people of like mind, it will eventually slip when others are around, especially in a relaxed atmosphere.

Those who don’t believe this happening in all parts of this country are naive. We claim to have evolved, but our words prove that some of us have not.

A perfect example of this is the outrage over a Cheerios commercial that included an inter-racial family. So many logged on a website to complain and voice their outrage that the company closed down the site.

Those who believe this racism and prejudice does not exist need only to surf the web, read comments on news stories or some blogs and both can be found alive and well in all parts of our country.

Deen was wrong to use racial slurs, but in a time when the words have had a re-birth, should she be so severely punished as to loose everything she has worked for?

She said she is confused because she hears the words used in the workplace among the young black workers.

It is confusing to some who find disgusting words, including those to describe blacks, Native Americans and gender references, are used regularly by those  same groups.

Shouldn’t respect be respect in all cultures? Who has the right to say if one person uses the word it is racist, but it is okay for another to use the same word?

People are now jumping from the Paula Deen brand like rats from a sinking ship. That is the nature of our politically correct society.

But have we gone too far with the politically correctness?

It seems daily there is some person in the limelight issuing a public apology for something he or she said or did.

There are those who need to apologize, but for others the need to apologize is confusing.

If a person is raised to believe that a gay lifestyle is against religious beliefs, is an apology necessary for stating that fact?

Waters are muddied on these types of issues and it seems that we need to find a middle ground. In some cases there are no right or wrong answers. Where do we draw the line?

Demanding an apology for every statement involving a hot button issue, whether or not it is truly needed, only creates an atmosphere where people are reading apologies written by their publicist or lawyer, not really apologizing.

There is a distinct difference between a belief and ignorance and words show that difference.

As this world evolves in lightning speed, it is difficult for mankind to keep up. We are expected to accept people of all races and religions as equal. If we continue to hold on to the attitudes of earlier generations, we will be incorrect.

Was Paula Deen wrong? According to this time, absolutely.

Was she wrong according to the South in which she was raised? Probably not.

That is no excuse, it is just reality.

We must remember that words are extremely powerful. Words show whether or not we claim to be who or what we are.

Claiming that we are not racists or prejudiced does not make it true.


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