So, I responded to a Facebook conversation about Paula Deen yesterday. Now many will believe that this is where I made my first mistake and…well, you’re probably right. But at the time, it actually seemed like a sound idea. Despite the fact that there were mostly comments by white men and many were defending Deen, I still thought: rational conversation. After all, we are Facebook friends, right? And there was just no way that this could go wrong.
Here’s how it went down, with commentary.
The post began, “Anne Rice is right” about Paula Deen. For those who are not aware, Anne Rice, the author of Interview With the Vampire, made statements that she felt Deen was being publically “lynched” because of racist statements and business policies that Deen had enacted within her restaurants.
As you can imagine, comparing Deen with lynching, in which whites would hang, burn and castrate blacks who dared to challenge them, did not go over so well. People were naturally upset that a person who made her living using words, could be so careless with them. Now this person defended Rice, who defended Deen. So I commented that, “it’s really interesting to see people defending and feeling sorry for poor Paula Deen and how she's being lynched and crucified--as if her use of the "n" word once in her life is the problem. If you want to feel sorry for someone, how about feeling sorry for her poor black employees who were forced to enter and leave through back doors and use separate bathrooms than whites....”
The oddest response in the history of responses followed: “Chesya, in spite of yesterday's ruling, it's still not legal for people like me to get married, a right that every race, creed, and religion enjoys, that convicts and mentally incapacitated people enjoy. Furthermore, when people like me point it out, they're told to check their "white privilege." Please, let's not go there with the victimization Olympics, at least until we have a gay President in the White House….”
Um…okay. Your gay rights are being trampled by…Paula Deen…oh, no, by the people who are calling out Paula Deen for racist policies? Okay, I admit, I don’t make the connection, but…actually, why are we talking about gay rights, again?
Because, he said, “the double standard that seems to apply for public outrage of this magnitude is ludicrous and noxious” and “it stopped being about "racism" days ago.” Okay, but I don’t think we should dismiss what Paula Deen has said and done because gays aren’t getting a fair shake.
Then the white male upset: “No one is dismissing what she said, but the fact that you need to manipulate what my post actually says speaks to the weakness of your own position.”
Manipulate? “By saying that Anne Rice is right,” I told him, “I believe that you are dismissing what Paula Deen has done. After all, Anne Rice dismissed it herself by saying what Deen had said wasn't a problem because she only said it to a white woman. This is dismissive because it pretends that Deen's actions are somehow no big deal.”
Then more white man upset for the poor, rich, Southern, white woman while pulling the whole, you’re-just-a-youngen’-stop-trying-to-ta
So I quote Mrs. Rice: “[Paula Deen] made the remark privately to Lisa Jackson. She did not say it to a black person to offend that person or hurt that person. She isn't the one to broadcast that comment to the whole world.... Lisa Jackson did that. And she's white by the way."
I think I did a fine job of summarizing what Anne Rice said, actually. And I said so.
But he responded: “That is not what she said.... You stated that she said the comment "wasn't a problem because she only said it to a white woman." As you yourself just quoted, that is neither what she said, nor what she meant.”
Now, I know that words have meaning, and I know that it’s important to get to the root of the meaning, so let’s figure this out. How does Anne Rice’s words that she said it to a white person, so as not to hurt a black person not mean the same thing as it wasn't a problem (i.e. hurtful) to black people because she only said it to a white woman? I don’t know, but I really need someone to explain this to me.
Oh, but this gets better.
Because during this whole ordeal, this “gentlemen” continues to use the “n” word over and over again. But don't worry, he always put it in "quotations." In several different post, even within post back to back to back to back to back, as if to make a very important point about how he’s not racist. And evidently how he didn’t want to appear racist while talking to a Black woman about racism and using the “n” word over and over and over again. It didn’t matter that “I” never used it; it didn’t even matter, evidently, if I was offended by it.
If I had pointed this out, I probably would have been accused of whining. How do I know? Because soon after, I was accused of whining. When he asked me to “prove” that Paula Deen had admitted to many of the allegations during her deposition, I said there was no point “because it will probably be ignored or claimed that a direct quote does not say what it actually says or that I've misrepresented something.”
The response: “Chesya, please don't whine. If you have an example of her admitting to "many of the allegations," just post them. Don't play the victim here, it's not necessary.”
Then another white guy: “I know I'd like less whining and more posting of FACTS.”
So I’m perceived as whining. Although I didn’t start a conversation about “racism and sexism” and then turn it completely around and make it about my own oppression, complaining that I can’t get married and black people can or that there’s no gay president in the white house. But these dudes tell me to stop whining? Let me guess, I’m a woman, so I whine. He’s a man, so he….what?
Again, I need help with this.
Eventually, for some reason, Anne Rice is linked to (as if he expects her to bring down her rain of truth on me) and her son is spoken to as if he’s commented (I have no idea if he did): “Note to Christopher Rice. I did not need another reason to love your mother, but she has been so stand-up in this instance, I applaud her. Even more.”
Then there was some half ass thank you to “everyone, for the thoughtful, respectful commentary.” I assume he means other than constantly using that derogatory word in his responses to me or accusing me of whining—you know, like a girl.
Things I learned from this conversation, Paula Deen was actually being “quite complementary” when she said she wanted blacks dressing like slaves, and if I like Jesse Jackson I’m a hypocrite and I don’t know anything about race or history (the last two must be true, because a black guy said it).
Eventually, I stopped responding because, let’s be honest, there was no point. Whining again, sorry! But I have a few thoughts on the conversation that I tweeted throughout yesterday and many people responded to.
But none of this matters because, you know, it’s easier to just dismiss me as whining. That means you don't have to address your hurtful ideologies.