Weighing in on Paula Deen

Friday, July 12, 2013

I have avoided this hot button topic like the plague since it began. People in my part of the world are passionately in favor of supporting her, and any indication to the contrary would inspire wrath from them. Not that I'm on the other side of the fence from them myself, I'm really not even in the yard with the fence. Other than the issue of racism being present in this country, which anyone who pays attention already knows as fact, this is a real non-issue for me.

I liked her as a personality on t.v. just fine. I didn't watch her show but found her fun and entertaining to watch on other shows. When she was found to have diabetes, which she initially hid from the public, I thought it spoke some of her character. When you are in the food business, continuing to espouse high fat, high sugar foods that  you yourself cannot even have any more just so the dollars keep rolling in- says something about the person. But, she did come clean, and it didn't hurt her at all. People who loved her embraced that she was now promoting a healthier- balanced food lifestyle. Good all around.

This last issue is bigger than I think a lot of people realize. I know more about what has been going on behind the scenes than maybe most, because the posts I see are 'so she used the "n" word decades ago, big deal." Well, that is probably the understatement of the century when you are talking about this case. It's not what happened decades ago- it is that what happened decades ago built the foundation for continued racism and discrimination to continue in at least one little corner of her world. Maybe it was just the closet in the upstairs attic and the rest of the house was clean, but things stuffed into closets tend to cause all kinds of problems. It's our secrets that keep us sick.

I also am shocked at how many people feel this issue, even if it were a real one to them, should be dismissed because 'others' are violating civil rights and promoting racism at a much higher level. Really? This is an argument for her? So someone should be given a pass on something that we, as a country, should never tolerate because others are violating it so much worse? Unbelievable.

The reason I haven't weighed in on this topic- is that this really isn't about Paula Deen. We have MUCH bigger issues in our country right now than whether or not Paula Deen as a personality will continue. She will, as a human, be fine. She has a loving family and a loving fan base. she's financially secure. Her star may have been tarnished in the t.v. world but anyone with values knows that shouldn't count for a whole lot in the grand scheme of things.

I worry more about the impact this will have on those further down the food chain- people who worked in her factories and businesses are going to be out of jobs because of this. It's them and their families I worry for. Her industry has the money to do right by them, and I hope she does- offering them assistance to transition to other jobs, maybe even some job training if they need it.

She will exit the spotlight, there is no doubt of that. Usually sponsors, t.v. executives and buyers are hesitant to drop someone who makes them money. The fact they did says there may be more to this than even we know. She may recover a small following, but her star is never going to shine like it has.

Still, she has the opportunity to leave a real legacy if she handles her exit from the spotlight correctly. I truly hope she will.

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