I told myself that I would stay away from politics for a while on my blog, then politics reared its ugly head. I find it unfortunate that within a week’s time, Paula Deen, whose primary sin is promoting food that that is part of an unhealthy lifestyle, has been vilified in the media for admitting to having used the “N” word in the past while in Washington, D.C. the legal system has made racism more acceptable. Paula Deen became a scapegoat for a nation still living with institutionalized racism even as the Supreme Court issued a decision that eviscerates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Now we can all eat our fried chicken and pecan pie, AND keep minorities away from the polls. I have one question: Which is worse, to long for the days of plantations and minstrel shows, or to legalize the disregarding of the Voting Rights Act? Okay, both are pretty lame and both reveal an innate, perhaps unconscious racism. Paula Deen finds black servants in white coats and gloves appealing as a quaint look at an idealized past. The U.S Supreme Court has just allowed for disenfranchisement of minorities in the basic right of American citizens to vote. But no one on the Supreme Court used the “N” word. They just made it easier for minorities to be treated as that which we are uncomfortable in naming. The Supreme Court decision allows the country to continue with its institutionalized racism while giving lip service to racial progress by shunning Paula Deen.
A couple of years ago I quoted Will Campbell in a blog post discussing a new “revised” version of Huckleberry Finn. It had to do with the use of the “N” word vs. how we actually treat people:
Sometimes we educated folk can get so caught up in political correctness that we end up missing the point entirely, living in a dull, flat landscape, so to speak. It reminds me of something Will Campbell relates in his acclaimed memoir, Brother to a Dragonfly. Campbell tells of a salty Baptist preacher, Brother Thad Garner, he knew in the Deep South. One of his stories is about how Brother Garner used his influence in the local Lion’s Club to make them aware that it was wrong to support a bond issue for a swimming pool in their town when earlier a bond had been defeated that would have provided running water for those living in the Black community (who were having to draw water from a single well). This was a decade prior to the civil rights movement. Brother Thad had first warmed up the crowd with some jokes, including one about an “ole colored preacher.” After the meeting, Will chided his friend for telling “ole colored preacher" jokes. To which his friend Thad replied:
“That’s the trouble with you shithook liberals, Willie. You had rather see a hundred children die of dehydration than to have the sound of ‘nigger’ heard from your lips. Whether I say ‘nigger’ don’t matter a damn. If one of those young’uns die of thirst he ain’t nothing. Just one more dead nigger, whether I say the word or not, or whether I go to Hell for saying it or not. But if he lives to get grown, maybe he can lead his people out of this godawful Egypt and there won’t be no more niggers."
May the Supreme Court justices enjoy their fried chicken and pecan pie which will probably be prepared by some people who won’t quite make it to the polls next time. As the song says, “Not dark yet…but it’s gettin’ there.