Thursday, June 27, 2013

My thoughts on Paula Deen

Paula Deen uses the N-Word. Or, at least she did once, 30 years ago, in reference to a man who burst into a bank where she was a customer, and robbed it at gunpoint.

Here's the thing...if I was a customer at a bank (or anywhere) and some guy put a gun to my head and took my money, I imagine I'd call him a variety of colorful names. None would be friendly.

But none would be the N-Word, either.

Why? Because I believe it's wrong to use that word.

Using that word implies that the guy robbed the bank because of his race - and that any member of that race would do the same thing. Wrong. The guy robbed the bank because he was a jerk. OK - maybe he was someone in a desperate situation who made a poor decision...but most likely he was a jerk.

But Paula Deen admits she probably used the N-Word in that situation...and I would say if she could use it in that situation, she probably used it in other situations, too.

Yeah, sure...anyone could defend her behavior by saying she comes from a generation (1947) and a place
They have the video here.
(Albany, GA) where that's acceptable...blah, blah, blah.

At some point we all have to take ownership for our own mistakes. Ms. Deen is 66 years old; I think it might be time to stop blaming mom and dad for her actions and start apologizing.

But instead, she defended herself - by pointing out that nobody is perfect. Which tells me she doesn't think there's anything wrong in what she did, or her attitude, and she's not really sorry.

Lumping people together by race, and judging the whole group, is racist. Do I think Paula Deen is a racist? I sure do. Do I think she should have been fired for making racist comments? I actually don't. But...

I also don't think that's why she was fired. I think Paula Deen was fired for the same reason anyone else would be fired: She's no longer effective at her job.

I'm sure The Food Network doesn't care what Ms. Deen says in private conversations, and I bet they don't care what she said during a bank robbery 30 years ago. They do care whether or not she can make them money. If she's a bad public relations risk, and advertisers don't want to be associated with her, then she doesn't make them money. Period.

Not only that - if they renew her contract, the network has to invest time and money rehabilitating and defending her image - as well its association with her brand . So now, not only isn't she making them as much money - she's actually costing them money.

How many people do you know who could stop earning money for their boss, and cost their boss money at the same time, and keep their job? I bet not too many.

As far as the endorsement deals go...Smithfield and Wal-Mart and Caesers didn't enter into contracts with Paula Deen because of her bubbly personality or because they like her cooking. They did it because of her name recognition - which comes from her TV shows on The Food Network. But now she doesn't have TV shows anymore, and her name is tainted. So what can she do for them?

Not too much.

I used to work for Wal-Mart. Trust me when I say theirs is not a corporate culture of tolerance and inclusion. Privately, I bet they would applaud Ms. Deen's attitude. But publicly? It's about business. Wal-Mart has customers who will be offended by Ms. Deen, and her products will collect dust sitting on the shelves. Time to move them out of the way and make room for something that sells.

It's all about money. If she can't show them the money, any business is going to show her the door.


  1. Well said. Probably the most intelligent commentary I've read on this, yet.

  2. I like how you see all sides of this.

    I agree with you, for the most part...

    But, what I agree with the most is, it's about the money.. and she isn't going to be that marketable right now.