Paula Deen

I have been tossing around the idea of sharing my thoughts on the Paula Deen debacle. To be honest, the whole thing is so controversial that I kept resisting. After all, I want you people to like me. It is one thing for me to speak out about eating more fat, and the kinds of fat that you have been told never to eat, when your refrigerator is probably full of skimmed milk and fat-free cheese. You might be able to forgive me when I tell you that whole milk is a whole food and egg yolks contain way more nutrition than egg whites. Although I may not consume quite as much butter as Paula Deen, I certainly do not avoid it. But should I really take on racism?

There is probably no more loaded a topic up for discussion.

Did Paula Deen use the "N" word? Yes. She has admitted it. Apparently, she used this word many years ago and is only now getting sued. Why is that?  I am guessing someone figured out that they can benefit financially.

Paula Deen is worth big bucks. She is one of the biggest names when it comes to celebrity chefs and Food Network. According to all I have read, she has been one of the most popular speakers at Food Network events, including the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, for many years. She has a huge fan base and I can understand why. Paula Deen is great on camera. She comes off as relaxed, warm, funny, motherly, and about as down-home as you can get. I have watched as she has invited guests of all races and religions onto her cooking show. Could this woman be a closet racist?

I guess it is possible. Maybe her whole television persona is a fake. Maybe she has spent years pulling the wool over our eyes. What do you think?

Because I just don't buy it.

Paula Deen has apologized repeatedly. Of course, at this point, her apologies are wasted breath. Anyone who believes she is a racist will view her apologies as desperate attempts to hold onto anything she can salvage. And as I type this, her career is slipping through her fingers. Food Network has canceled her contract. Target and Walmart have cut all ties with Paula and her products. And yet, sales of her cookbooks are skyrocketing.

Of course, I do not condone the usage of the "N" word under any circumstances. She should not have used that word. Period. And she should never have made the additional mistake of trying to explain using it as part of her Southern upbringing and her age. It doesn't matter where you were raised or when you were born, you should know not to use that word. But should Paula Deen lose EVERYTHING because she spoke that word out loud?

I don't believe, in this instance, that the punishment fits the crime.

Years ago, when Mr. Balancing Act still worked for a brokerage firm, we went to a holiday party at his co-worker's home. The home was located in an upscale, mostly Jewish neighborhood. Upon joining the party, my husband's boss made a disparaging remark, couched in a joke, about Jews. Other people in the room laughed but I'm quite sure my mouth was hanging open in disbelief. Perhaps since I was raised near NYC, I had never, not once in my entire life, heard anyone openly put down Jews. I waited for someone to call him out, but no one did. Should I have spoken up at the time? Yes, I wish I had been brave enough to step forward and publicly embarrass this man. Instead, I later asked my husband to confront him in private. Should he have lost his job based on this anti-Semitic joke? I'm not sure about that.

Words can cause wounds. Words can intimidate. There is no doubt. People in positions of power should exercise responsibility by choosing their words carefully and respectfully. But people make mistakes. How much should a mistake like this cost?