Monday, June 24, 2013

Dear Old White Southern Woman

Dear Old Southern White Woman,

I know you. You're in my family. You make that amazing coconut cake for the family reunion every year, and your sweet tea is more sugar than water, and that's the way we all love it. You're always generous and kind and upbeat. And you've got a core of steel that has helped you weather your troubles stoically, even beating breast cancer when you're too polite to say the word "breast" in public. You've taken care of me all my life, and you're a good person who knows she's going to heaven.

You have type-2 diabetes now, but you're still cooking pie and biscuits for the rest of us. You're not sure how you got the diabeetus, and you say there's no cure, but luckily that nice Paula Deen told you exactly how to take care of it. I tried to bring you articles about how pre-packaged sugary shakes aren't helping, how doctors have proven that type-2 diabetes can be cured with the right diet*, but you said your doctor told you better, told you the prescription was the best way. So whenever you ask me to pick up your needles, I do, because you're 85 and think you know better than me.

And now you feel sorry for Paula Deen. You think she's a victim, and it makes you angry for the way she's being treated after giving so much to the world.

You're angry at the lying lawyers, the Food Network, the liberal media.

You're angry at everyone except Paula Deen. 

And I think it's because y'all are a lot alike, and that scares you.

See, here's the thing. You try to be a good person every single day. But somewhere along the way, you skipped that page in the newspapers that told you that black people had rights and didn't want to be called Negroes or Coloreds or worse, the N-word. You think Orientals are people *and* rugs. And you don't want to go to your old Kroger anymore because there are people with a definite brown cast to their skin and you can't understand what they say when they talk. And that scares you, too. Because you grew up in an all-white neighborhood with an all-white church in an all-white town where you knew everybody. That was your normal, your safety. And it's all changing.

You grew up Paula Deen, surrounded by Paula Deens.

And you can't understand that that world is crumbling.

And most of us are really happy to see it go.


I support free speech, and I don't like censorship, and I believe that the current issue with Paula Deen doesn't involve either issue. I am glad that she is feeling an emotional and legal backlash for disrespecting other human beings in her business and in the public eye.

Growing up in the South, I assume that most white people I meet, especially the Conservative-Christian-Republican types who people my family reunions, are racists. They talk about it unapologetically, wondering aloud who would elect a black president (i.e. ME). And because I love my family, because I want them to love me, I don't always correct them or tell them how horrified I am by their beliefs and ignorance.

And I'm realizing that that makes me part of this problem: my silence tells them it's okay.

That's what's so hard about racism in the deep South: it's everywhere, including the people you love. My grandmother honestly doesn't think that her racism is harming anyone. She's not trying to be ugly. When I was little, she sang Jesus Loves the Little Children to me, smiling through "red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in his sight," yet she doesn't understand how hurtful it is to call mixed race children "abominations". That's actually the first one that ever spurred me out of my quiet acceptance of their prejudice; I couldn't stand by and hear someone I love call an innocent child something so horrible.

"They're not abominations. They're children," I said.

We argued about it for ten minutes, gentle and polite as Southern women are, and then I left, knowing I hadn't even made a dent. Science, logic, history, religion--nothing could beat her bone-deep belief that non-whites are lesser.

"Sugar, you go home and read your Bible, and you'll see," she said as she hugged me goodbye.


So I say to Paula Deen and my grandparents and anyone with such views:

It is your right to be a racist. And it is other people's right to judge you for it.

Even when you get past the fact that learned racism can be unlearned with empathy, understanding, and education (because I know plenty of people who have transcended it!), you still have to deal with the consequences of exercising your right to spew hate speech. That is, you are free to be a racist, no matter what race you are personally and whether or not you were raised in the Deep South. But once you're in a position of power and use your beliefs to harm others, the issue is no longer one of free speech.

No one in this situation believes that Paula Deen is restricted from selling butter and insulin simultaneously or that she can't sit at home and collect Little Black Sambo books behind closed doors. The argument here is that when you publicly demean other people due to their race or sexuality, the public is allowed to picket you, to petition against you, to fire you, and, yes, to judge you. When someone sets out to become a media star or celebrity, there is a tacit understanding that they are going to be under examination at all times, photographed and quoted. And if you are a bigot, you've either got to learn to hide it or face the consequences.

And that, for me, is the heart of the matter. That is why I have no sympathy for Paula Deen.

While everyone might be racist to certain degrees, and while my sweet old dying grandmother is being racist behind closed doors and eight decades of well-meaning Christian ignorance, Paula Deen is actively harming the world through her cult of celebrity. She should know better. And even if she doesn't personally believe it, which is her right, she should know better than to open her mouth. The public backlash seems an appropriate punishment.

I grew up with the duality of loving people and hating their prejudice against other races, against other sexualities, and against anything weird or unusual. For a while, I thought that their closet racism was fine, that it wasn't harming anyone. When I got a little older, I thought there was some magic argument I could find, some proof I could present that would change their feelings. I've never found it. For now, the best I can do is be a good granddaughter, confidently speak my mind when offended, and teach my children better.

It's not even difficult. My daughter doesn't think twice about race. When I ask her what her friends are like at school, she tells me the color of their hair but not the color of their skin. My son isn't sure if he'll grow up to marry a woman, a man, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, or nobody. The acceptance that was so unusual in my youth is now a natural part of life. I don't want my grandparents to die, and every time the phone rings after dark or before sunrise, I worry that it's that call. But I look forward to a world in which this accepted, assumed racism has died out with the last generation that can plead any kind of ignorance.


There's a certain guilt to growing up white and middle class in the Deep South. If I listed all my issues and feelings, this post would go on for days. But I will say this. In Summer 2014, I have a book coming out with Simon Pulse called SERVANTS OF THE STORM. The idea was inspired by pictures of Six Flags NOLA after Hurricane Katrina, and the story centers on a teen girl who lost her best friend in a hurricane that devastated Savannah. The protagonist, Dovey, is mixed race, and her best friend, Carly was black. I did my level best to make race an aspect of the story but not the crux or focus of it, and I have never written a book with such good intentions and such internal terror of how it will be received. We say we want more people of color in our books, but as a white middle class woman, is my attempt to capture Dovey's worldview offensive or helpful? Am I giving the next generation a character with whom they can identify, or am I assuming too much in trying to explore the mind, heart, and motivations of someone whose true experience I can't fathom?

But I'll say this. Dovey sprang from my mind fully-formed, just as much as Criminy or Ahna or Casper. She was herself from the beginning, unapologetic and ready to fight. And changing her heritage, changing her color, would be a disservice to her very being. The world has plenty of stories about misunderstood white girls like I was, so I hope that any fumbling on my part will be taken in the spirit of someone who wants her children to grow up knowing that people are people, each special in their own way and each worthy of attention, empathy, and understanding. If I can see through the eyes of a male Victorian vampire circus ringmaster, is it such a stretch that I could put myself in the place of a mixed race teen girl fighting demons?

And here's the secret: I named Dovey after my racist grandmother.

I might have also parodied Paula Deen as a murderous, owl-footed demon trying to take over a storm-ridden Savannah with magic pills. But you'll have to read the sequel to find out.


In conclusion: I took down the news story on Facebook that listed all the N-words Paula Deen innocently dropped during her deposition and instead linked to this lovely tumblr showcasing proud and happy mixed race families. If this kerfuffle can teach us anything, I hope it's that we're all better off focusing on the miracles in our life instead of looking backwards at a world that's on the way out.

*A commenter has informed me that this information is false and hurtful. I'm not changing the original post, as that seems underhanded and dishonest on my part, as this was indeed the way I responded to my grandmother several years ago. But I will share that I have an incurable autoimmune disorder myself and apologize if this interpretation shames or stigmatizes any sufferers of type 2 diabetes. My feelings about perpetuating the causes of this disease while shilling the medicine to help it remain the same, but the purpose of this blog post was not to hurt anyone in regards to their physical challenges.


Fairly Odd Mother said...

I would expect nothing less of you Delilah, but this is brilliant. Thank you. My mother is Austrian and she tells me of a racism she encountered toward a different group of people when she was growing up, and it is still shocking for me to hear. Recently, she went to visit a mutual friend's ailing German aunt in a nursing home and, as they were leaving, the woman did the "salute" to them at the elevator. To my mother's credit, she was horrified. As was I. May all forms of racism start to die away though I suppose that is my optimist's outlook that hopes that this will someday be possible. I hope I'm not wrong.

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm a white writer who pens mix-raced characters and characters of other races and genders. I write those characters because they are the kind of people I know in real life.

I certainly hope none of my characters will offend anyone, but I'm not going to stop writing about them.

Ali said...

This is a great post! I totally agree with you that the racism has to stop. I too live in a family like this, and I too have kept my mouth shut trying to be the good daughter. But there comes a time when you can't do that anymore. Good for you for standing up for that.

Thanks for the post!!! :)

Anonymous said...

You assume that 'most' white people, especially conservative Christian Republican ones, are racists? How incredibly prejudiced of you.

Winifred Burton said...

I'm black and was raised by Southern people. I lived in Louisiana for a while and spent lots of time with family in Mississippi. I find the discussion on ethnicity in the South to be problematic from both sides.

In my experiences, different groups hold each other at arm's length in the South, not mixing socially and when speaking about race doing so defensively. Black vs. white, with an emotional and fearful context not much different than maybe 50 years ago.

Now that I live in the North, specifically the Pacific Northwest, I find that people embrace socially but steamroll all race and difference conversations with happy faces.

Neither approach works. Guilt and anger alone are not productive.

I think it's great that you're having difficult conversations and that we all need to be doing that. Within our families and with others (prepared for judgement of course).

Maybe we can schedule a collective lightbulb moment. If Rwandan genocide vics and perps can attempt reconciliation dialogue so soon after that tragedy, why can't Americans decades later?

Ellie Di said...

"We say we want more people of color in our books, but as a white middle class woman, is my attempt to capture Dovey's worldview offensive or helpful? Am I giving the next generation a character with whom they can identify, or am I assuming too much in trying to explore the mind, heart, and motivations of someone whose true experience I can't fathom?"

THIS. I've been wrestling with this for the last couple of weeks, and the Paula Deen thing has honed my worry to a fine point. I grew up in Ozarkian Missouri; not the South, but damned close. The strange feeling of wanting to make the world a better, more inclusive place is strong in me, but because I came up in a town with all white people, I stumble often when I think about the way I want to portray the world in my writing. There's a lot of subtle lines and gray area that I don't understand but deeply want to. I don't want to be offensive on accident (I want to be offensive on purpose, goddammit), but at the same time, I don't want to just choose the "safe" path of only writing my own experience (which doesn't actually do anyone much good).

Bill Cameron said...

Beautifully said. Thank you.

jas faulkner said...

Brava! Count me as one of your newest fans!

Unknown said...

This is a brilliant article and I thank you for it, but I would ask you to rethink stating that type 2 diabetes is curable. There is no cure for diabetes right now.

Yes, you can manage your symptoms and sometimes even put the disease in remission, but it's not a cure and it's not a for sure thing for everyone.

When people say "you can cure type 2 diabetes" the type 2 hears "you ate yourself sick and if you had enough discipline you would be well and therefore you do not deserve any consideration for your illness." It's much like the folks who are racist and don't even know it because that's just the way it's always been. The notion of "curing" type 2 diabetes is first and foremost misinformation that was created by diet and exercise gurus with a plan to sell, and then it was perpetrated by the people who did manage to get some success with their changes.

This is not always the case for every type 2 diabetic. Saying that type 2 is curable is shaming and hurtful, and frankly wrong. Diabetes doesn't, yet, have a cure. Further stigmatizing people who have it is not helpful to anyone.

delilah s. dawson said...

Unknown, I apologize for spreading misinformation or causing any hurtful feelings. As someone with an incurable autoimmune disease, I would not want to cause anyone to feel worse. The latest research I read indicated that type 2 diabetes could be reversed/sent into remission through diet, and the articles I presented to my grandmother outlined how this could be done. I admit I am in no way an expert, but I do firmly believe that simultaneously selling unhealthful food and the medicine to cure a disease caused by that food is at best ignorant and at the worst, flat out evil.

In any case, thank you for the alert, and I apologize for perpetuating an unhelpful stigma.

Jewels said...

This was beautifully written Delilah. Very passionate and moving. I read it aloud at work today. In Canada we have the same problems without the same cultural history. It's still here. It's everywhere. Hopefully it dies a little more with every new generation that comes.

Justina! said...

@ Winifred

The reason we have no dialogue on race in this country is that racism is still very much an institution. Look at the drug sentences given to white vs. POC offenders, the recent voting ID acts, and the rates of inner city funding versus construction of new prisons, and you can see that POC are still very much treated like second class citizens. That needs to be corrected/addressed/admitted to before anyone is coming to the table for a kumbayah.

And as for writing POC main characters: you will get crap for writing a POC character. And that's okay. But I think it's a greater crime to JUST NOT TRY than to try and maybe get it wrong.

Someone will always find fault with your words. It's as inevitable as death and taxes.

Benjamin Adler said...

As a New Jerseyan Jewish white male under the age of 40, who attended higher educations below the Mason-Dixon line, I pretty much want to say this is a great blog post. Also, Paula Dean is a bad person for so many other reasons that the racist slips are almost white noises in the aether.

barelyok said...

You nailed what it means to be a White Southerner in the New South. Sadly, I've met OWSW of every age and gender. Many live in other parts of the country.

Some people ask me why the South is so racist. If you travel 100 miles outside of NYC, LA or any large metro area, you'll find plenty of
OWSW. You'll find them in Park Avenue and South Boston. The South has no monopoly on bigotry, but still have to deal with that devil Jim Crow.

The OWSW in my family have raised me well, taught me great wisdom. Yet, everybody has flaws that match like flannel on brocade with their. It's all of part of being human, but I prefer to rid myself of those prejudices. It's not easy, because there's an OWSW in all of us picking at our moral locks.

Justina! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bliss said...

Delilah, I have long admired your writing/blogging. I already knew you were talented. But you have so masterfully, eloquently, and succinctly summed up this topic from a point of view that, while different than mine (due, in part, to our very different life experiences), reaches the same conclusions. And as a mixed race girl from the North who now lives in the Deep South, I can't wait to read your book in Summer 2014.

Maureen O'Danu said...

This is an excellent, excellent post that captures many of the different issues around race and family and the generational issues that continue to haunt us.

I too have struggled to write characters that do not come from my (mostly) middle class white background, and I know the tightrope that needs to be walked. I have asked friends of different backgrounds and races to read drafts and to give me input where needed, and wherever I spotted a racial or cultural stereotype of my own, I pushed back at it consciously.

My extended family is proudly mixed race, but also has dark corners of racism and sexism and classism.

As for Paula Deen, I hate to admit that I saw this coming, but oh, yes, I saw this coming. I know too many people like her not to know what she was saying when the camera was off. Too often white folks have assumed that because I'm white, the 'camera is off' when they're talking to me, too.

Maureen O'Danu said...

Winifred... I have spotted the differences between the open bigotry of the south and the 'smiling' bigotry of the north in my family. I call one of my sons' grandmothers 'Grandma Bigot' and the other, 'Grandma No I'm Not a Bigot Really I'm Not' to distinguish between the two presentations.

I agree that it's problematic to localize the idea of racism to the south. It does provide a convenient way for northerners who haven't dealt with their own internalized racism to pat themselves on the back...

Anonymous said...

DOes not being a racist mean you are entirely color blind? If it does I can't not notice a person is white, or really white, or mocha or of any color.

I grew up smack dab in the middle of the Civil Rights movement TIME-WISE anyway. I lived in a pretty much white neighborhood in an overwhelmingly white school system in upstate NY in the 60s and 70s. In college there was no institutional division that I knew of, but socially there sure was.

When a black friend drove me home my mother threw a fit. I was raised to see the difference and while I note the difference in my heart of hearts I don't believe I am racist. I just can't unlearn that anymore than I can stop thinking of myself as who I am. But, I fight against seeing the difference.

My mom still believe mixed race couples are "wrong" - but only black and white. Which is good because my husband is a whole lot of Native American so if she were to apply the rule equally I'd have been disowned.

I learned growing up that I would be disowned if I ever danced with or dated a black man.

So, yeah I notice a difference. I don't believe I have ever used a slur since I learned what one was. And, my parents never used slurs as far as vocabulary went. But did they pound it into my head - yup.
I've also been on the receiving end of a slur (WOP!). I found it enraging and hilarious that people could be so stupid.

Funny how one ethnic group can be discriminated against and then turn around and do the same thing.

Heck I don't know anything about anything.

I did not realize Diabetes-2 was also auto immune. I know D-1 is. D-2 I've been told is the result of the blood cells chemistry changing due to high lipids or triglycerides and become insulin resistant. I had also learned that at some point it stops being correctable by diet.
D-1 is definitely auto immune. I have participated in studies as a first degree relative (child) of a diabetic. Both have a particular genetic predisposition. But, I have also been taught that onset of D-2 is largely caused by blood chemistry and not by the Islets of Langherhans being knocked out by one's response to a virus as D-1 is. Not all blood chemistry results from diet - for example I eat virtually no fat and am underweight and still have high cholesterol.
Obesity, recently labeled a disease by the AMA, is NOT the only cause of D-2 but suffering from obesity is an almost sure road to it. You have only to look at the new wave of young people who are becoming type 2 diabetics to see this. It doesn't reduce the severity of the disease nor due type 2 diabetics deserve to be treated differently from people with any other disease process. But when we have any disease if there is something we can do about it on our own I believe we should try it out. I also have an autoimmune disease. ANd I manage it through diet. I don't want to but I do.

Lynn said...

While I agree that their are still issues of racism that swing both ways. I also feel that the word racist is being thrown around to much. It seems anytime their is a conflict between people of different races now of days it's automatically labeled a racist act which to me is hurting the real truth of it.
As far as Paula Deen is concerned I think people are condemning her harshly. This is a woman who has helped black couples get more noticed, she put the Neelys on her show and helped them get on the network. She donates time and money to boys clubs that include multiracial kids. Those aren't the acts of a true racist. Her words yes were ignorant and tasteless but that doesn't make her an aweful southern white racist.
Words only have the power we allow them to and it's sad to me that we've let them have this kind of power over our country.

Anonymous said...

Great entry. I also have family in the South, so I understand what you are talking about.

But I do have two issues that I would like to bring up.
(I have to admit that I didn't follow this when it first released, because I thought it was a non-story coming out of a bitter law-suit. After it became bigger, I looked into the story, so if there is something that I missed or misunderstood, let me know.)

First - from what I gather, this was said in the privacy in her home with her trusted friends and family around. There was no intention for this to be a public statement, and we all say things in private that we would not want out for everyone to hear. Heck, if I had a sense of shame or propriety, I would feel that way on a daily basis. Anger or attempts at humor often bring out statements that can be off-color and scandalous when taken out of the correct context. Should we all be held to such criticism for things said in our personal circles?

Second - How long ago did this happen? While it is a word that people have known this is not an appropriate word to be bandying about (more the reason why it is significant to NOT censor the word from Mark Twain), people do change. Is she not allowed to progress beyond where she once was? Or do the sins of her past have to be carried around her neck like a stinky albatross for the rest of her life? (ahh, metaphors.)
I have family that has been openly as racist as a clans-member. But since those days, they have changed their minds. While it was difficult, they have dropped their intolerance of different races, creeds and whatknot - including a gay nephew living in Phoenix. I am not sure they should be condemned for their past views more than for their ability to overcome them. Paula Dean may be in this category...or not, I don't claim to know enough about her currently.

These are just the two things that pops up in my mind when I hear people condemning her for her racial comments. Again, I admit that there are many things about this that I don't know, both because I don't know her private life and also because I have been spotty in following this story, so anything you have to illuminate I would welcome.

Until then, keep being awesome!

--Edward (that mod dude from Phoenix)

(I didn't mean to leave this as an anonymous comment, but I am at work so I can't connect to my Google account.)

delilah s. dawson said...

Understanding that no one can know all the facts, here are the things that I have read:

Pertinent parts of Paula Deen's deposition: (May 17, 2013)

The full thing is on CNN:

I'm not a fan, and I don't follow her work or her controversy closely. But learning about this overall attitude over the last week made me think about how I relate to my family and the culture that I grew up in. I mean, I'm basically saying my grandmother could be in this same situation, had she sought to be a public figure. I don't hate this woman, I don't wish her harm; I just personally disagree with a lot about how she operates and expresses herself.

And I know I'm not perfect, y'all. Any blog post is YMMV, IMHO, etc. But I'm trying to be a better person, and part of that is speaking up about things like this and like sexism in certain industries, things that bother me, even if the only reason I open my mouth is so I can sleep at night with a sound conscience.

Blogging about this sort of topic helps me understand how I feel and, if necessary, to gently prod myself in the right direction, thanks to your insightful comments.

Justina! said...

For Lynn and Edward: racism is NOT a zero sum argument, which is one of the problems in this country. People think "Oh, I would never use the N-word in public, so I'm not a racist." But that's not true. Anytime you let someone's race influence your opinion of them, that's racist.

Everyone makes snap judgments based on the outward appearance of others. Letting them control how we act is bad, but not acknowledging that we made those snap judgments can be worse.

Here is a great article for you to read up on, and hopefully think about:

Summer Frey said...

I've spent the majority of my life in the Deep South too, and I was definitely raised to respect my elders pretty much no matter what. But my first day of work as a nurse in my rural (and I do mean rural) hospital, I had a patient who was within spitting distance of 100 years old, and when that patient told me a foully racist joke, I not only didn't even smile, I told her that I didn't feel it was appropriate and would appreciate not hearing anything else like it. She said, "you think I'm wicked don't you?" And as nicely as I could, I said yes.

What surprised me most about this exchange was that I didn't even have to think about my response, didn't have to weigh it against potentially insulting an elderly person and a client/patient. It just came out, and I'm glad of it.

M. Andrew Patterson said...

You are awesome and amazing. Loved this post. A person's upbringing is no excuse for hate.

I wish I had more to add to this story, but honestly, you've saiid it so well, I don't think I could say anything else except "Thank you". Thank you for standing up and being honest.

Lynn said...

Never once did I say anything of the sort. My point was that almost everyone over a certain age has at one point in time made a comment that could be construed as a racist comment about one race or another. Does that mean we are all racist? No. Are the words any less ugly? No. Being a racist is more than saying a word it's the hate and prejudice behind them that is.

Nicola Smith said...

Lots to like and that I relate to in this post. I grew up in South Africa, and I was 18 when Mandela was pardoned. I've encountered plenty of racism, plenty of assumptions that because I'm white and South African that I am racist. I don't think I am. I had the unusual experience of going to a mixed-race school for four years - private, so money got you in. I didn't understand why there were no black kids or Indian (Asian) kids in my next school, only then figuring out then what Apartheid actually meant, age 12. A friend told me stories about how family members of hers were faced with the 'choice' of passing for white, because their skin was pale enough, and how her parents tried to keep from them why they were not allowed to go play on this or that beach as they drove passed.

Then I went to London. It was...something of a culture change lol. England does have its racists - I lived with a BNP member for a few months, unpleasant flashbacks there - but for the most part, people mix much more freely than I've noticed them doing now I'm down here in Texas. I worked with people who spoke plummier English than me and who were black. I discovered a lot of similarities with food culture among Jamaican and Trinidadian immigrants (Malaysians and Indians influenced South African cooking too). I discovered I assumed an 'African' accent meant less education, and that shocked the hell out of me. I learned I was wrong. Now in Texas, I do the same thing I did in London, which is mostly try to avoid expat South Africans who assume I'm here not because I fell in love with an American but because They ruined the country. I don't even try anymore, to be honest. Except places like here, so that hopefully my opinion makes it out there before someone comes up to me again and says "It's good that you got out," as though I escaped Afghanistan, as though my childhood and the friends and city I love are not worthy of it.

Winifred Burton said...


You misunderstood my comment. As a black woman in one of the whitest parts of the country, I'm pretty up to date on my racism is current, systemic, and real.

My point is that institutional racism only stifles interpersonal attempts at communication (not kumbayah, but discussion) if we as individuals let it. If everyone is waiting for racism to die down and to feel safe before we start talking to each other about how messed up we are it's not going to happen.

Not everyone can be reasoned with and not every situation is safe to challenge but when a white coworker says "Black women are more..." in front of me it's easy to think typical white person crazy talk and stop there. Occasionally I do. More often I say, hm is that so? Tell me all about this mythical monolithic black person. I don't plan to change any minds but it's worth it to me to point out that the logic is missing.

If you only talk to people who agree with you and who think like you, progress is hard to come by.

Silence is a problem, but anger (or conversely guilt) is only a starting point. That's why I applaud this post from Delilah.

Anonymous said...

"If I can see through the eyes of a male Victorian vampire circus ringmaster, is it such a stretch that I could put myself in the place of a mixed race teen girl fighting demons?"

A fictional creature, that looks like the majority privileged class, is certainly not the same as a character that represents a real minority. This comment directly undermines your stated hesitation in writing a character who's background you don't represent. It's like when people say, "I don't have a problem with any color--black, white, red, purple..." There ARE no "purple" people, and it's offensive to lump actual people of color in with something that doesn't exist. Saying, "I can write something that doesn't exist! So that should be close enough to some one who does!" is not helping, right?

On the topic at hand... My friends and I hate Paula Deen because she is a horrible stereotype on all levels (offensive comments/actions, accent, terrible food). She is awful, and she makes people think she is representative of all of us southern people/women.

I do not stay quiet to racists who exist in my family or acquaintances. Oh hey, did I mention they're all Northerners? Even the ones in my husband's family? If they say something offensive, I do not expect to change their opinion at all, but I will make it clear that I am not going to further their fantasy that everybody thinks like they do. Most of them have the decency to be embarrassed. Maybe if they learn their own family doesn't tolerate their nonsense, then they shouldn't be showing it in public either.

I am a born and raised southern white woman, currently living in Savannah, GA, and I am nothing like Paula Deen. My other southern friends are also not like Paula Deen. Yes, there are racists and bigots, but they are EVERYWHERE and I hate the implication that this is not the case.

Just a side note: Tourists are the only ones who give a crap about Paula Deen. Local Savannahians could care less about the woman. Truly.

Margaret Cook said...
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