With the anniversary of The March On Washington and the release of Lee Daniel’s The Butler, a brilliant movie about the civil rights era, I was surprised to see that the front-page news was the exoneration of Paula Deen, or should I say her court case on racial discrimination had been dismissed, probably due to a settlement. Is this southern belle, known for her fried food and butter, guilty of more than just an unhealthy diet? I say she’s guilty, but her crime is ignorance.
In her youth Paula was a struggling mom who used her love of food and good business sense to create a dynasty. However, notoriety and an expanding bank account do not guarantee that ones consciousness will also grow. Insisting that blacks use back entrances and separate toilets is abusive in any era, but particularly today. To admit that your dream dinner party includes men dressed as slaves is so out of touch with today’s world that it makes one wonder how a celebrity could be so unconscious. Obviously, Paula never integrated the pain and suffering of African Americans with the joys and privileges of being a white southerner. Before you judge her though, it might be wise to look at your own life. Where are you unconscious? Where do you hold on to the joyful memory of an experience solely by refusing to acknowledge that there was a negative or painful part to it also? Paula lost a fortune and her reputation for her lack of awareness. What could you loose by protecting a portion of your thoughts and memories from the truth?
Pockets of fantasies are dangerous because they make you unconscious and unaware and this leads to trouble. So before you cast the first stone and condemn Paula, figure out what you are keeping on your island away from the rest of your consciousness? Paula Deen reached the top, but she couldn’t hold on to her success, because she wasn’t aware. She saw herself as a good, compassionate, loving woman and she had no concept of how some of her thoughts and habits were hurtful to others. Pain or a loss of financial resources is often the best teacher. Look within and don’t be afraid to live in reality – yours and the reality of others – they both exist.