Paula Deen Gets Support from Southern Women, Including Author Anne Rice

Paula deen facebook pageSouthern women love them some Paula Deen.

They don’t care that the celebrity cook is in hot water because she and her family are accused of spewing racially-charged language. In a court deposition leaked to the media, Deen admitted to using one racial slur “a very long time ago.” (Her 152-page deposition is now on the “Savannah News” website.)

Deen and her family are under fire in a federal lawsuit filed by a former white female worker, who spent years in Deen’s inner circle. The lawsuit says that Deen’s brother, Earl W. Hiers, exposed workers at Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, which is owned by Deen, to racial slurs and inappropriate jokes about women, Jews and blacks.

Lisa T. Jackson, who filed the lawsuit, only wants revenge, say Deen and her brother. Before filing suit, she asked them for $1.2 million and threatened to go public.

The leak from Deen’s deposition has already cost her millions. Her Food Channel shows were cancelled along with numerous endorsement deals including one with Smithfield Foods.

But for many women, Deen is an iconic steel magnolia.

She pulled herself up by the bootstraps after a failed marriage in the late 1980s left her with only $200 to support her two sons.  Like many single women in the poor South, she was uneducated and depended on a man to make her living. To make ends meet, she lived with her brother while she tried a variety of jobs including hanging wallpaper, working as a bank teller and selling real estate and insurance. But cooking was her salvation and cash cow, transforming her into a multi-millionaire.

Her admission to saying the “N” word years ago to police to describe the robber of the bank where she worked isn’t going to stop her fans from liking her.

“Why ever would you like that woman?” people ask Deen supporters. I can tell you why. Because, like it or not, a lot of white people in the South still use the “N” word in the 21st century even if it isn’t politically correct. And they think it’s not a big deal.

Truthfully, I can’t tell you how many times I heard the word from white Southerners while covering the 2008 presidential race between President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain. And, I can’t count the times I’ve heard it since Barack Obama was re-elected. Let’s just say a lot. It’s an ugly word but, sadly, it’s still part of our culture.

Deen supporters have launched various Facebook groups, but the “We Support Paula Deen” page now has more than 400,000 supporters. The group’s administrators cite their support for the Savannah, Ga., celebrity because of “her rags to riches success, the jobs she has created in the Coastal Empire, and her work with charities. Paula goes all over the country for Second Harvest. In 2013, she created The Bag Lady Foundation to support women in need.”

John Schmitt of Indiana created the Facebook page. He told me, “I just felt that what was happening to her was wrong, and my Facebook page was a chance to say. This is wrong and I support her.”

He isn’t alone.

Stephanie Colby Dodge wrote on the page, “I cancelled all of my auto deliveries I had with Smithfield this morning, and called QVC and made it clear if they drop Paula then I am dropping my account with them (I spend an average of $300-$800 a month w/QVC). I support you Paula and keep the faith and keep your head held high and know you have more supporters then haters.”

QVC said statement it is evaluating its contract with Deen.

Joyce Dixon, one of page’s administrators who lives in Georgia, shared the Facebook demographics of the supporters with The Broad Side. Seventy percent of them are female while nearly 30 percent are male. The age group most supported of  Deen are surprisingly 25- to 34-year-olds at 27 percent. But 23 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds have clicked to support the cooking diva, and 21 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds are cheering on Deen.

Even author Anne Rice, a New Orleans native, has also come out swinging hard for Deen, writing on her website: “It takes really hard work and vitally important work to confront racism in ourselves and in the institutions we support and to seek to change our culture so that all enjoy equal rights and equal opportunity. That must remain our focus. It is all too easy to ‘hate’ on a witch and join in the ‘fun; of a public execution, and to feel smug and superior and righteous for doing it. And that is what we are seeing now with Paula Deen. Pure ugliness. This is the very opposite of respect for the dignity of all persons.”

Rice is right with her cautionary post. Deen may have made a mistake and she is likely to lose more contracts and money, but her detractors should beware. Southerners have a way of coming out of the fire like a phoenix. Just ask Bill Clinton.

Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt” and “1000 Best Bartender’s Recipes.” She writes frequently for Reuters, TakePart, and numerous other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker.

Image via Paula Deen Facebook page

  • Lezlie Bishop

    I notice there are no statistics for the those 45 and above. I wonder why. It is the opening of this piece that rings true to me. The word is used constantly down here (Georgia); it’s just that the people who say it are more careful who they say it around.

    I saw Paula Deen on The Today show this morning. She seemed broken. However, all she talked about was how this matter has affected her and how people who know her know she is a good person. Nothing about the feelings of the people who allegedly were harmed by the treatment of employees in the family business. She missed yet another opportunity to show the viewers that she is indeed aware of the inherent wrong of that.

    Anyone who believes that a Paula Deen has only used the word “nigger” on one occasion is naive, at best. If a person employs that word under duress (she said a black man had held a gun to her head and she was describing him to the police) that word is in her heart and on her tongue with regularity. I’m not buying it.

    However, whether or not she has used that is not the point. It is her ACTIONS that matter. If she condoned a toxic atmosphere in her restaurants; if she referred to one of her black associates as being as black as that blackboard behind me — you wouldn’t be able to see him if he stood in front of it; if she has, in fact required her black employees to use only the employee restrooms, while her white employees were free to use the guest restroom; if any or all of those things are true, race is an issue with Paula Deen.

    • How many times does she have to say she was sorry? She has publicly apologized at least 3 times. She has admitted she was wrong. She wasn’t asked the question of whether she was sorry again, and again, and again. She was asked questions about her, this time. I believe forgiveness is in order this time around.

    • ASHLEY

      Saying someone is “as black as the blackboard behind me” isn’t a prejudice statement. I have a family member who is very light skinned and we call her milky and powder because she is so white. Don’t think that is being racist at all……..that is making a general statement about the color of a persons skin tone.

      • Lezlie Bishop

        Call it what you will, it is hurtful on both sides of it. Ever wondered how the words “milky” and “powder” make her feel? I can tell you, if you’re interested. I’ve lived it.

    • Jewel (Julie) Neeley

      YOU KNOW IF YOU WERE IN HER SITUATION RIGHT NOW YOU WOULD BE IN FULL SELF DEFENSE CONSIDERING SHE HAS DONE NOTHING WRONG TO DESERVE ALL THIS BAD PUBLICITY… SHE HAS APOLOGIZED FOR A WRONG COMMITTED A VERY VERY LONG TIME AGO….LOOK IN THE MIRROR I’LL BET YOUR SKELETONS WOULD POOR OUT… WE HAVE ALL MADE GINORMOUS MISTAKES THAT NOBODY KNEW OR CARED ABOUT BUT WHEN YOU INVOLVE MONEY..HELLO!!!!!! THE WORLD BUSTS OUT THEIR JEALOUS BONES AND BENDED NOSES TO TAKE DOWN SOMEONE WHO HAS IT…AND I MEAN MONEY….IT IS ALL ABOUT MONEY AND THE PUBLIC’S LACK OF IT…PAULA DEEN WORKED FROM THE GROUND OF $200.00 UP TO A MULTI MILLION DOLLAR EMPIRE. ADMIT IT? YOU ARE JEALOUS!!!! YOU WATCHED HER AND HER FAMILY GROW WEALTHIER AND WEALTHIER OVER THE LAST YEARS AND IT BOTHERED YOU…WHERE IS YOUR PIECE OF THE PIE??? FACT OF THE MATTER IS SHE WORKED AND SACRIFICED LIKE A LOT OF US DO AND TAPPED INTO A SITUATION THAT WORKED..”THE FOOD BUSINESS” i AM PROUD OF HER! i ADMIRE HER! AND ALL YOU SELFISHLY CAN THINK ABOUT IS YOURSELF!!!! BECAUSE IN THIS TRIAL OF TRIBULATION SHE IS GOING THROUGH SHE DIDN’T THINK ABOUT “YOU” AND HOW “YOU” FEEL! YOU ARE PYTHETIC!!!!! YOU ARE SELFISH!! YOU NEED TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND AND ASK YOURSELF “WHAT WOULD i DO IF THIS WAS ME? ” SHE IS IN A TAIL SPIN…SHE MAY WORD THINGS DIFFERENTLY TOMORROW OR NEXT WEEK AFTER THE HORROR OF THIS SETTLES, AS FOR RIGHT NOW? LEAVE HER ALONE! SHE IS DOING THE BEST SHE CAN!!! I BELEIVE THAT YOU ARE SOMEONE WHO LIKES TO CUT DOWN PEOPLE WHEN GIVEN THE CHANCE….WELL CUT AWAY !!!!! YOU WON’T CHANGE THE FACTS AND YOU WON’T CHANGE THE RESPECT AND LOVE THAT IS POURING OUT TO THE DEEN FAMILY., SHE HAS MY SUPPORT ALL THE WAY!!!!!!

      • Lezlie Bishop

        I assume you are shouting at me. I won’t even entertain your allegation that I am jealous of Paula Deen. I have nothing whatsoever to be jealous about.

        My first written statement on Facebook when all this came out was, “I am so disappointed in Paula.” That’s because up until now I enjoyed her appearances on some of the talk shows I watch. I’m not a foodie, so I don’t watch cooking shows. I wouldn’t call myself a fan, but I did enjoy her down home approach.

        However, she was very, very, very irresponsible with her own health and the health of her followers by smothering everything in butter and/or lard. If she herself hadn’t been stricken with diabetes, she would still be chirping about the beauty of butter.

        If you respond, there is no need to shout. I can hear you.

        • A Hufstetler

          Have you seriously watched Food Network or any cooking shows on TV? Every Chef uses butter, oils etc etc in their cooking or nearly every. And you know what…no one else is getting persecuted! She wasn’t
          “stricken” with diabetes. She developed diabetes which could come from many factors such as genetics and diet. She turned that around PLUS wrote new cookbooks on cooking light. WOW, you sound like Ms Perfect. She made choices but they are NONE of our business. I am glad to see she has lost weight and have new recipes along with her son Jamie cooking lighter..they have done the right thing! I am disappointed in so many people like you who want to cast that first stone…wow! Such have you ever buttered your toast? And, yes its obvious, you don’t watch cooking shows and you are not a foodie, just a standby critic, judging. SAD!

        • Really.. who the heck writes in all caps? It is yelling and screaming. No one can read that stuff. It’s anger all over the place.

          • Libby Clark

            Perhaps someone that made a mistake? Or are you going to chastise Julie for being human? People make mistakes. I would hope there are more important things in your life rather than ridiculing someone’s error. Not everyone on the Internet knows the “rules”. There is no need for you to be judgmental of others.

          • Pam

            I have a friend who always types in caps cos she is losing her eyesight. So there.

        • Karen

          This isn’t about health, this is about a woman looking for an easy paycheck and found an “rich” mark. The woman bringing the suit has no standing in a race case, she’s white. She admitted today that she had never heard Paula say the N word in her presence. She approached one of Paula’s sons with a money demand or “she would go public”, that is extortion.

          What Paula does with her own health is no ones business but her own…how do you know her diabetes isn’t genetic? Do you know that this is how she ate every day? No you don’t. The health of her followers is also not Paula’s concern, if you don’t want that much butter then don’t make the recipe! Change the recipe whatever but saying she is “very very irresponsible” is just a whinny way of saying that no one needs to take responsibility for their own plate. What is it with people that they have to blame someone else for something they need to take responsibility for themselves? If you don’t like it … change the damn channel!

          • A Hufstetler

            AMEN!

        • Maga

          Lezlie, somehow our culture has devolved to the point that we feel the need to be judge and jury for public figures in a way that we would NEVER be judged ourselves.

          As for the comments regarding her “sinful” use of butter and/or lard; mark my words, the truth is now coming out that these are actually healthy fats, much better for you than carbohydrates and processed sugar. Remember how awful eggs were supposed to be for you? I don’t listen to the Food Police, I make my own educated choices.

          We are a sad bunch of self-righteous “perfect” people in this country with no tolerance in our thoughts and no forgiveness in our hearts for others.

          • Lezlie Bishop

            You know, Maga, you make a good point. When I read your comment I stopped to think about it a minute. What’s happened is that this age of instant news and news as entertainment instead of information, we seem to feel compelled to choose sides before all the evidence is presented in a proper way. Instead of allowing the legal system to work (when it does) we argue the points in public, which allows all kinds of tangential issues to come up.

            I have not judged Paula Deen. I have simply said that IF the things Miss Jackson and others have alleged are true, then there is a problem. The use of the N-word is not uppermost in my thoughts. She said she said it. Whether it was once or more than once is between Paula and her conscience. I

    • Steven

      Does she have to be stoned to death to satisfy you? She has apologized enough. All that remains is for the witch hunters to put down their pitchforks. Get over it already. It is more about what is wrong with you at this point. You are holding a grudge.

    • A Hufstetler

      Ms. Bishop, I did not see stats on over 55, but it does not take age to see that Paula Deen was broken, heartbroken to say the least. She made her apologies to all that would have been offended IF she in fact had said anything offensive. If you could not tell that this has taken an emotional and mental impact on this woman, you are blind. Had Matt Lauer asked her the right questions and led her in this interview without being so concerned trying to pull out of her her “money” concern,,she would have an opportunity to
      speak further. Of course, other than being hurt by this emotionally, it will and is taking some toll on her financially..thats a no brainer! And…what people were harmed by the treatment…….what treatment? Stop! Help stop this continuation of more false accusations and opportunities for more gold diggers to try and bring this lovely person down. Buy into what you want, but do inventory on your own speech and past and ask yourself..have you ever said something that you did not mean or that was taken out of context and it may have hurt others and you were hurt in return? Do you have a heart? I am sure there is something there to ponder over. Let this woman be and quit acting like juror, judge and chief executioner. Lets all move on and let this person heal before others grasp a way to lash out in more unwarranted anger. The word nigger was used in the past by many people, both southerners and northerners. Today, even blacks call each other that. Lets not judge, but accept that todays world is different and yes, we all need to be mindful and kind to one another…not dig up bones to persecute! IF there are areas that Paula
      Deen needs to work on within herself and her employees, then let us allow her to do that. From my own recent experience, she has many many loyal and loving employees (and most were black) who had nothing but great things to say about this woman. That, I know as a fact as I spoke to them personally!
      Finally, one word of advice. Race is an issue with a lot of people in our country. We cannot change them, that’s like trying to bottle air. We just have to set an example starting with forgiveness and respect of others. I think Paula deserves the respect to move on and stop this attempt at total assassination of her character. Its not going to happen. Too many people love her! But the toll it will take on her personally and physically could be devastating. I don’t want that for her or for anyone, do you? Lets move on, its time.

    • Rose

      How can you judge her on something that has not been proven? She is part of a lawsuit made by a former employee of her brother’s restaurant. You are judging her on claims made against her, that her son’s say are do to an extortion lawsuit. Until the case is played out, you can’t just assume she did those things (other than what she’s claimed she’s said). They are NOT necessarily HER actions, they are actions that she’s been accused of. I’m with Paula, God will take care of this. The truth will come out. This “racist” has personally campaigned for President Obama, why in God’s name would a racist do that? The Foodnetwork never should have dropped her that quickly. They could easily tell from ratings if Paula was losing support, and then they could have dropped her, but to do so so quickly after all that she’s brought to that Network is unforgivable as far as I’m concern.

      • Lezlie Bishop

        I read her deposition — the legal document that was leaked to the press. It is not conjecture, it is a transcript of her own words in response to questions. If you reread my original comment above, you will see that I used words such as “alleged” and “allegations” and “if.” I have not judged her — yet. I am simply not rushing to her aid without knowing the full story. Calm down and stop attacking me.

      • Pam

        And now Wal-Mart in on the bandwagon. You know, “squeaky clean”Wal-Mart.

        • Nickey

          I hear where you are coming from about Wal-mart. I was working over night there for a while and there was one of my co-workers who was making me very uncomfortable. He would follow me around and just stare at me all the time. I mentioned it to several of the managers and they would never tell him anything bout it. I was researching local sex offenders for a paper i was writing for school and by chance I came across his mug shot. He had been convicted of aggrivated rape and having child pornography in his possesion.I brought my findings to my store manager the next day. He said that all of this had turned up when they did his background check when he was hired. Obviously Wal-mart sees no problem hiring someone who is a registered sex-offender.

    • Eglyntine

      Why would she apologize for something she said did not happen? She admitted to saying that word over 30 years ago but the other accusations are just that. They were made by a disgruntled witch of an employee and a man who is ticked off because he was not made a full partner in Paula and her Brother’s restaurant. Lisa Jackson admitted under oath that she never personally saw or heard Paula or her brother say anything negative to the employees. None of the employees are allowed to use the bathrooms in the guest area because most ppl find it disgusting to see a cook walk out of a bathroom while they are eating their food. The Southern style wedding comments were taken TOTALLY our of context just like she said they would. She was giving the restaurant and those servers a compliment so I guess it is evil to compliment black ppl now too.

      Jackson is doing this to Paula to get money and she found a lawyer that is going the distance trying to meet out the blackmail terms. When they could not find one other employee to confirm Jackson’s story they told the press that it was because they were afraid of losing their job. Well that is all great for them to make up that excuse but you cannot try someone when there are no witnesses. How convenient for Jackson to say they are afraid. But then I am sure her sleazy lawyer came up with that one because he knew ppl like you existed.

      So you are judge, jury and executioner in this case because you decided to believe the lies rather than a woman who has proven over and over through her actions that she is not the person these two ppl say she is. Ppl like you are disgusting. You jump on a bandwagon of hate and destruction just for the power trip and to help promote your self-righteous persona to the world. Contrary to what ppl may think, Self-Righteousness is a sin. It is one of the worst sins because usually ppl cannot see that they are being that way.

      • Lezlie Bishop

        Okay. And who have you decided to believe? What makes your information any more truthful or accurate than anyone else’s?

        • Eglyntine

          Again, I am going to take the word of someone that I have seen their actions and has a good reputation for being kind, caring, etc. Paula has ppl that know her personally that are shocked by these accusations. This woman that is suing her only has a reputation of being difficult to work for, mean spirited, and now we see money grubbing. That is not the character of a person that I am going to believe over the later. They have employees past and present that say this woman is vile and anything but a victim. That she is the one that told the dirty jokes, showed pornography in the work place and was very discriminatory towards the minorities that worked there including calling ppl the “N” word. Here is the other thing why on God’s green earth would a person continue to live under such “horrible” conditions for 5 years if this was what was really going on here? And then not report it until the exact right moment when she felt she could get the most money and effect out of it? Having worked where she worked and with the position she held she could have gone anywhere else to get a job. But she chose to stay….

          Before this scandal I could have cared less one way or another about Paula Deen. She is enjoyable to watch from time to time but I was not gaga over Paula. But seeing what is happening to her and the pure evil that ppl are perpetuating towards her over rumours is absolutely insane.I feel horrible for her but I also know that ignorance is something you are never going to fix. And when it comes to executing a person there is always a line around the block of ppl with their rockers and knitting to watch the show.

  • Debra Gibbs

    I will be 60 years old this year, and originally started watching FN and Paula Deen while living in Wisconsin…The “N” word is not an exclusive property to the South…I heard it while growing up, in my own household. That said it is not a word I use now, although I sure hear it enough since I have moved to Arkansas. I don’t condone it and walk away from those that use it. I support Paula Deen because she was honest and truthful and is being vilified for it!

  • James C. Murray, Jr.

    I’m so tired of these people who continue to drag southerners through the mud. You can here the N word used in common conversation all over the north as well. Six months ago, while in a “northern” state, I heard it repeatedly. As a southern gentleman, I do not use the word. Make this conversation USA-wide or get off the south.

  • Nancy Whitaker

    A lot of this garbage is nothing but pure lies. Paula Deen is a classy, southern lady who happened to work hard and fight her way up with her personality, honesty and her cooking. This former employee was employed there for five years. There is also a letter on file from the accuser where she had some ideas and thoughts of how to increase profits etc and voiced nothing but praise for her employers. She tried to extort over a million dollars from the Deen family to get them to settle out of court. This smells to high Heaven and since when did blackmail and extortion become legal in this country. She has apologized and is paying the price because of one persons greediness and jealousy. Why not just sue Bubba? Her sights were set on big money. Paula will always have a strong fan base and she will rise above this. The Food Network is going to feel the results of getting rid of her. Personally, if that is the way they are, I sure wont be watching them. They jumped the gun, they are going to pay the price. Go Paula Deen and may God Bless you in your time of need.

  • tamzilla

    I am so sick of it! Why is it only Whites are considered Racist in the Media when we KNOW that is not true! Why is it CRMINAL for everyone but BLACK people to use the “N” word? It use to be common especially in the South were she was raised, and this incident happened many many years ago! It offends Bill Cosby and Myself that Blacks want to be called African American, the odds are even their grandparents weren’t from Africa. I’m must not be Racist because I voted for Obama the 1st time, my bad! I watch the BET on a regular basis and I have many black friends. However just like her I have used the word under duress. I was robbed 3Xs by the Same 1s and it pissed me off and I said something to that affect right in front of a Black Cop and then I explained to him that I don’t think all Black People are “Ns” but that is what I would refer to as a BAD 1, just like I refer to Bad White People as White Trash!

  • Judy Abrams

    I have never met Paula Deen face to face but I have developed a friendship with her as she comes into my home through Food Network to share her wonderful recipes and her warm, friendly personality! There are other shows on the network that I enjoy and other host that I like but since there will be no Paula Deen there will be none of the others on my television either. Food Network will not be watched in my house. Neither will I purchase foods that have the Smithfield name on them. I am dedicated to what I feel is right and am ready to drop from my life any other network or product that drops Paula from it’s schedule or as it’s sponsor!

    I feel that this is an attempt to obtain publicity and / or financial gain by individuals through means of destroying one person who has taken “not much of anything” and turned it into something that has not only been beneficial to her family, as well as herself, but to many people and organizations that she has supported with her time and by financial means.

    I am a woman. Paula is a woman. Paula is a strong woman who I feel, in one way or another, will overcome this and walk with dignity and holding her head up high. I am proud to be a woman standing behind her and supporting her! She survived and supported her family as the “Bag Lady!” She is to be honored. She is to be respected!

    As far as “the word” is concerned, it is not a pretty word. In this day and time it is not accepted as it was years ago. However she has made public apology for her actions. I have been taught, and I teach, that our God forgives. There has only been one perfect person on the face of this earth and no, He was not on Food Network. But for those who have read and studied His book, He surely did provide a huge fish dinner. For whatever Paula Deen did, she has said I am sorry and God hears our words and if He can forgive, then His people should be able to do do also.

    Let him who is without sin cast the first stone……….do not see any stones flying through the air!

    Judy Abrams

    • A Hufstetler

      Amen Judy! Well said!

  • Kathy Turner

    Since when is using a dis-tasteful word a crime? This is ridiculous. I grew up in the south and heard this word constantly, but I do not use it and my kids didn’t even know what it was until they were in their teens. However, I have heard the word used liberally in rap music as if it is an endearment. This is ridiculous…..What happened to freedom of speech?

    • @Kathy – Distasteful? Seriously? Racial slurs were distasteful in the 70’s. People should just KNOW better today.

      • A Hufstetler

        Distasteful, YES.. seriously! When so many young people and I have even heard more mature people call each other the N word…how serious is racial issues? Come on…I think we have moved on! I also think people just look for that opportunity for a fast buck like her ex-employee is doing. Its in music and on the streets and blacks call each that in jest! Why is she being persecuted? Gee, I should sue someone if they call me Honky or Cracker. Lets get real and grow up. Sometimes its best to turn off the music and walk away. If PEOPLE knew better today, this would not be happening!

      • Koama

        I’m with Kathy, rather than the scold, Danielle. It’s a distasteful word. We don’t need to be told what we can and cannot say.

        And, of course, the next phase is that it will become a word of defiance, not against people of color, but against the Danielles of the world who think they can tell reasonable and sensitive people like Kathy exactly how they should think.

    • It isn’t a crime. What IS a crime is a hostile workplace, which is what she is being sued for. And her sponsors have every right to drop her (as they did Rush) for conduct unbecoming.

      • Marti Teitelbaum

        Thank you — for actually getting to the heart of the matter.
        No one’s accusing her of criminal behavior because she used the N-word. That’s a red herring.

  • Heather

    This is extortion. Next story please!

  • Come on America it is ok for musicians to spew the N word all over the music and allow it to be broadcast all over the world but……..let one white race say it and whamo your fired…..lol how uncanny can we be…..to bad people let money rule their lives……it is a scam to close down one of the top women in our country for a few million bux……Paula there is no shame on you it is those whom want to see you go down…..It will never happen….God has blessed you dear and he will see you through

  • Renee Hall

    Racism exists, that is a fact, but it is not just in the south, or by whites! Every person needs to be held accountable no matter what part of the country you live in, or what color your skin is, for hatred toward people that are different from them! I am a white person but I wouldn’t call myself by a name that I would not want somebody else to call me! Why is it ok for blacks to call themselves the name they hate so much for someone white to call them? I would want to be totally removed from the past and the hatefulness of that time!

    • A Hufstetler

      So totally agree and what you said is the absolute TRUTH. Strange Matt Lauer never brought that up isn’t it?

  • koshersalaami

    There are two things going on here.

    The first is the question of racism, by which I don’t mean the use of a word 26 years ago after a robbery. The questions are really about what actually happened in her restaurant. What did she condone? Were there differences in how employees of different races were treated? That’s a legitimate question and if those allegations are true, Ms. Deen deserves what she gets.

    I think Lezlie is right to point out that Ms. Deen never considered how the publicity around her alleged racism might affect her Black audience; that aspect appears to be missing. It shouldn’t be.

    I will add that how racist a word is does depend on who is using it. If someone from a dominant population uses a word like that on someone from a minority population, the word is being used to keep someone down because they belong to a minority. If the word is used by one member of that minority about another, laterally, the word isn’t being used oppressively. We might think it’s a bad idea to use it, which I do, and which Mr. Cosby does, but its use in that case isn’t to reinforce an asymmetrical power relationship.

    The second is the question of class. Ms. Deen is now being criticized in a lot of places for things that have nothing to do with racism just because it’s open season on her. A lot of these things are traceable to her background, and I’m not including the vocabulary she grew up with. I am including her cooking; health consciousness in diet is somewhat related to income and education. I think there is an extent to which a lot of Ms. Deen’s defenders are reacting to this unspoken attack on her class, particularly in the context of her being Southern.

    Not every attack on Ms. Deen is OK. Not every defense of Ms. Deen is OK. It depends on what exactly is being attacked and what exactly is being defended.

    Racism is indefensible; don’t even bother. When it comes to racism, Ms. Deen is not the victim here.

    When it comes to the peripheral attacks, she may very well be.

    Watch for the difference.

  • Gina Ellis

    It’s one thing for an oppressed group to take an oppressive term and play with it, take some of the poison out of it among themselves, but it’s a totally other thing for the oppressors to use it. For example, I have gay friends who use terms among themselves in front of me that I have the common sense not to use myself.

    From the deposition, there seems to be a lot more to the complaints against Deen than the use of That Word. For example, she wanted to (but apparently thought better of it – hooray) to throw an antebellum theme wedding for her brother, using black people in white jackets as slaves waiting on the guests. Like, ick.

    So it’s not just a matter of smearing white southerners as racists on the basis of a word, but of being repelled by their nostalgia for a time when they prospered on the backs of enslaved people. Who were (to quote Deen) “like family”. Like, ick.

    Anyway, the Food Network will lose some indignant white viewers, at least for a while, but they’ll no doubt retain a whole lot of black ones. They probably made some market calculations rather than moral ones, and figured they won’t hurt much by losing the bigots.

    • A Hufstetler

      Hate to bust your bubble, but you should read many of the PD Support sites. Unbelievable how many black people have come to her aid. Food Network is going to suffer. BIG Time! Their re runs and other shows weren’t doing the job anyway, so this is just what will send them down the tube. A real shame. As far as your knowledge and understanding of southern culture and customs, I have one word to say…. Like, ick! You should come on down and get to know some real southerners and yes, many have black and Hispanic friends that are just like family! For real!

      • Baria

        Well said!

      • Mindy

        Agreed! This southern girl sort of felt that the writer of this article was prejudice against Southerners myself…..But I guess that isn’t the same thing….

  • Sorry. Don’t agree at all. I am a lifelong Southerner. And what Paula did, as I point out in my most recent piece, is far worse than just using a shitty word that “lots” of people use. Lots of men abuse their wives. Does that make it okay? Lots of people do lots of awful things but when you are an icon, like Deen, you should watch how you behave or be prepared to accept the consequences.

    • A Hufstetler

      We all should watch what we say whether we are in the public eye or not. However, to persecute someone for what others think you said or meant years ago is totally wrong and unfair. She was graceful and humble and apologized IF she offended anyone…what else do you want? Blood? And this is no WAY shape or form similar to abuse. Please…keep this subject on the subject which was saying the N word. Lets move on folks. This woman deserves it and stop opinions that have no room for self evaluations or forgiveness!

      • But the “n” word is so little of the point. She apologized because she saw her empire crumbling. I don’t want blood at all. Read the full complaint. Forget about the “n” word and see the larger picture. And the the analogies are absolutely accurate: racism is no longer accepted by an enlightened society. Neither is the oppression of women or gays. Old behaviors die hard but Ms Deen has stuck to those old behaviors and damaged her reputation forever.

        • A Hufstetler

          Again, you act as juror, judge and chief executioner. Paula Deen apologized because its the right thing to do as a person and as a Southern Lady. She apologized IF she offended anyone because that is the type of person she is. She also added that she never said the N word in the context people of Today are trying to put it in. Quit trying to stereo type this word when you obviously don’t understand how people use it in different contexts! She did not apologize because she saw her empire crumbling. What a cruel thing to say. Paula and her family have been dealing with this money hungry person for quite some time. WHO in the right mind would have the time or the desire to deal with this and yes…its costing not just time and money but costing relationships and emotional trauma. Can’t you see for yourself? From when I saw her 3 weeks ago to now…its frightening how tired, sad and upset she is. Yes, it started with N word and now everyone including you wants to make it more. STOP…move on!

          • Sterotype a word? Are you kidding me? If you stop your silly over-the-top defense of bad behavior, I am happy to stop discussing the whole thing. I have written my own piece about the situation. Deen doesn’t get a pass just because you happen to think she is a Southern lady.

          • A Hufstetler

            You said your piece my dear, now its time for you to ZIP it Ms. Stereotype. Have a nice day.

          • Lezlie Bishop

            The way to make it stop is to open your mind to the possibility that Paula Deen isn’t the person you thought she was. The way to make it stop is to refrain from throwing around the defense that you hear black people using that word. The fact is, the word belongs to them to do with it what they want. Do I wish they wouldn’t? Absolutely. But their use of the word, which is used as a term of endearment rather than a put-down, in no way gives license to white people to use the word. If you are a white person with roots in Europe, you know very well how often pejoratives against people from one country are used by the people within that country. It happens all the time. That doesn’t mean that I, therefore, can start flinging that word around indiscriminately. It doesn’t work that way.

  • A Hufstetler

    And I have to add one more thing. When I say I saw her..yes, I spent time with her 3 weeks ago. And, yes, I talked with many of her wonderful employees and know this is extortion. You can blab all you want about old behaviors. I am looking at how you are behaving and you are so judgmental. Hate to tell you but racism is still here and alive, and its not just about blacks, its against whites, Hispanics etc. We have come a long way, but will never ever be totally free of it because folks don’t learn how to accept, forgive and move on. Stop persecuting someone who has lived the way she has and is loved and respected because of who she is…someone who loves all walks of life and has never been any other way as long as I have known her.

  • A Hufstetler

    Ms Bishop, so blacks can use the word, but no one else? That does not even make any sense. Paula did not sling around the N word to be offensive or hurt others. And you are right, it just doesn’t work that way BUT unfortunately, this lady got burned by someone who wanted to cash in. I lived in Europe for 4 years as a little girl, my mother is Swiss German and father a white American from the South. I went to school and lived in neighborhoods with white, blacks, Chinese etc. I know about “words”. They can be interpreted in many ways but if they stand for disrespect and hurt, then NO one should say them. However…that’s not life and is not how she would have meant them.

    • Lezlie Bishop

      I realize how difficult it is for you and others to understand, but yes, black people can use the word (but shouldn’t) and white people shouldn’t because they are in the position of being a member of the dominant or oppressive group. I am not being emotional about this, although I understand you are and why you are. I said I saw that Paula is broken. I feel sorry for anyone under that kind of stress. You have made it clear that you know Paula personally. A good friend is supposed to circle the wagons and support her friend. But at the same time, it would be good if you could take a step back and see what this is all about. It is not about that word. It is about Ms. Deen’s responses to questions in her deposition. The details will come out one way or the other in the lawsuit. But this conversation? It needs to be had.

      • A Hufstetler

        This is not difficult for me, it is for her or for anyone to go through something like this. It is what it is…a word. How anyone whether dominant or oppressive says a certain word and in what context is what is important, not whether it was a black or white that should or should not say it etc. I know she did not say anything in a bad context. Good friends are circling the wagons and the circle keeps getting bigger and bigger. Paula’s responsives were emotional and I think she is too overwhelmed to have been able to articulate her responses more clearly. She was not prompted properly…it was all about TODAY trying to get her to admit she was there because of finances. That is NOT her, although I am sure its going to cost her a great deal. What I am praying for is that it won’t cost her spirit. That is priceless.

        • Lezlie Bishop

          I wasn’t happy about the way Matt Lauer conducted that interview either, but I wasn’t talking about the interview, but the legal transcript of her deposition for her lawsuit. Also, I said I know it is difficult for you to understand the duality of the N-word, not that this was difficult for you in general.

          • A Hufstetler

            From understanding depositions and how they can be misconstrued…(have been through quite a few)..I am sure folks will assume anything as was heard this morning. I just hope this too shall fast before it really gets out of hand. Some say they have a “legal” transcript..who knows what anyone has? I just know she is really taking this hard…not because she ever did anything in a hurtful way…she is hurt because she didn’t. So sad.

  • koshersalaami

    The N word is more relevant here in terms of who gets to use it under what circumstances than in terms of whether Ms. Deen said it after a traumatic experience a quarter of a century ago. If that’s all the Food Network fired her over, I’d probably be in her corner, because people grow up in a quarter of a century. The more important question is how her restaurant was run recently when it came to her employees.

    The one respect in which the N word remains relevant in Ms. Deen’s case is in how she distances herself from it. I haven’t seen the interviews, so I can’t draw direct conclusions. Just the difference between “it was common where I was then” and “it was unfortunately common where I was then” could spell the difference between this being a blip and a scandal. One defends the action, the other expresses regret and condemns the action. It can’t be implied under those circumstances, it has to be stated. For one thing, that kind of statement with “unfortunately” pretty much says that she grew up in a quarter of a century. If she defends the action without regret to who else might be hurt, she’s essentially saying that she didn’t grow, because the whole point of why the term is offensive is in who it hurts.

    Please don’t tell me that I’m quibbling over a word. I’m not. I’m quibbling over an attitude, and that word is an example of how to express the attitude that would have kept her out of trouble.

    If you don’t get the difference between Black people using the term between themselves and White people using it on Black people, you aren’t paying enough attention. The word has implications, and if the word also blatantly applies to the person using the word, there’s obviously a certain sarcasm or flippancy involved, and not a distancing of the status of the person using the word from the person at whom it is aimed. In the first case, the rest of the sentence would read: “You’re being a …..” whereas in the second, the rest of the sentence would read: “You’re only a ……” Huge difference.

    • A Hufstetler

      ALL words have some sort of implication! Please quit dissecting this! He said, she said….We ALL say a word or something that may affect another in a manner which we may not think they accepted or they perceived it in a different way than was intended. And YES, we should all be conscious of what we say, but we are HUMAN and not perfect. Quibbling….please! I don’t think I have heard any quibbling since this whole thing started. Only harsh, cruel and hurtful untruths. I have never in my life thought that good people would not see this for what it really is and how it started. There is a certain person who obviously had a plan and saw it through because this family was not guilty of what she conspired. Sounds like she had a long time plan to make herself rich. HOWEVER..irregardless…no one should be “assassinated” for supposedly saying a “word” that was NOT in the context of disrespect…PERIOD! And when a person does get called out and an apology was humbly offered, then we should accept it graciously, forgive and move on. Especially when the person persecuted is as kind, loving and giving as this woman. ENOUGH said. Its really not about the N word…its about people that do not know how to accept differences or know how to forgive those that make mistakes when and if mistakes are made. TOO many folks in this world trying to pound the cement to be heard about WHO and WHAT they are, they forget to look around and care for those around them. TOO many forget where they came from and that forgiveness is what God does for us everyday! I don’t give a flying rats ass if you or my neighbor decides to wear a bone in their nose…its a choice. Do I like it, no…but its their choice and right. Are they hurting me? No…I don’t have to look at it or live with it. Does or can words hurt…sure, but you don’t die from it…you learn from it! When my granddaughter tells me someone called her a bully! Do I threaten a law suit or do I teach her about what a bully really is and teach her how not to be and to be proud of herself! Did they do this to offend me…well, why waste the energy…its their cross to bear. There are more important things to do in life than to persecute, sue and tear down someone for a word that seems to affect only those that are not confident in who they are…simple human beings! We ALL are, no matter what the color or where we were born. Its past time we all move on…this country and this world have people that really need help and attention. Paula has done that and shared that part of herself and her success…have you? And she did without concern over race, religion or gender!

  • Ron Powell

    Re the N word please look at this piece:

    http://blog.sfgate.com/drader/2011/01/05/the-n-word-huck-finn-and-you/

    I’m a 66 year old semi-retired teaching attorney. I can remember sitting in class being waterboarded with having to read and hear other kids read the Mark Twain “classic”, Huckleberry Finn, ALOUD as my teacher graded our proficiency in comprehension, diction, and so on…

    Huckleberry Finn was required reading back then, as it is in many jurisdictions today….Teachers should have special training to handle this book in public schools…

    We read it in 7th grade…In most cases today it is reserved for high school reading lists….However, that doesn’t make it any easier for many black kids to choke down….Most white kids simply don’t get it and most teachers can’t handle the potential effects…..

    With the exception of Lezlie in this comment thread, most of you can’t imagine the level of pain and discomfort dealing with the N word in class can cause a kid who happens to be, as I was, the only black person in the room or the building for that matter, ….

    The N word appears in the book 219 times….You don’t want to know how many times I heard, and had to ignore hearing, the N word repeated outside the classroom as kids would often take to mockingly recite what we were reading in class…

    My only consolation was that my name wasn’t Jim…..

    However, I agree with the author of the piece linked above and Lezlie here in the comments on this post…

    We must have this conversation….

    The Paula Deen mess gives us more than ample reason for doing so….

    • A Hufstetler

      Mr. Ron, I appreciate your comments. However, we have been having this discussion for as long as I can remember…as far back as my childhood..and I am 60. I truly believe intelligent and mature people of our era remember the past. I am sorry that as a child, you had to listen to a story that was written with coarse language and the N word, especially at that time. I think we have come a long way since then. I truly believe that you and I cannot change people and what they believe and how they describe someone. We strive to do better and teach others by our example. With that said, I also do not believe that this lady should be persecuted and stripped of her dignity simply because she said the N word YEARS ago. We all grow, we all learn and mature. But using her as a sacrificial lamb now is like trying to persecute Mark Twain all over again. Its got to stop. This is not fair or right. Its going to raise up people that want to continue to hold a grudge. None of this makes any sense. If that word is going to an issue forever, then anyone that says it to each other, in a song etc etc should be prosecuted no matter what color they are! That would be one heck of a mess, don’t you think? I think we all know who we are in this century and where we have come. Beating this to death is only spurring more problems. I am all for love and peace and pray Paula gets that soon.

  • koshersalaami

    If the entire issue were that “this lady should be persecuted and stripped of her dignity simply because she said the N word YEARS ago” I would agree with you.

    • A Hufstetler

      Koshersalaami…there is an article I would love for you to read. Just came out an hour ago. It sounds like you know about issues most of us don’t. However, I really think this would be a great thing for you to read and everyone for that matter. When you get a chance Google – “Saying Grace: Paula Deen Progressives and Race by Maria Dixon. She is lovely educator and writer. If I knew had to post to this site, I would. But no worries, its all over Google, Facebook and on the news. Would love to hear back from you after you read it! Have a blessed day!

  • Marti Teitelbaum

    I watched Matt Lauer’s interview with Deen, and, apologies, Suzi, but I really don’t think the southern woman justification flies. She may not be a horrible, Strom Thurmond type of racist but she is a run-of-the-mill unconsciously racist person. She is so wrapped up in her own hurt, that she can’t see how damaging her words and views are to others. Joanne asked — would a man who said this be treated this way? I think he would. And I have to turn it the other way around and say if a man said equivalently sexist things, would we excuse him because he comes from a male-dominated culture? I certainly wouldn’t. See my piece on Paul Tudor Jones — I think what he said about women is at a similar level of sexism to Deen’s racism. Both of them “meant no harm” I’m sure. But what they say & do are harmful.

    • A Hufstetler

      Ms. Marti…who Hasn’t said anything harmful or hurtful in their life? Wow, are you so perfect? Is this a perfect world? Would you want your entire world and everything you worked for to be in ruins because of a mistake you made years ago? That’s pretty mean and selfish. Please do yourself a favor and Google – Saying Grace: Paula Deen Progressives and Race by Maria Dixon. A lovely black educator and writer. Hope you have a different perspective after you read it.

  • Lisa Solod

    Why does this come down to who among us has or hasn’t said something hurtful? Why does that matter? Deen is being sued by an employee of her company (her brother’s restaurant but she owns it and he would not have it were it not for her reputation and money) and as such gave a very damning deposition. In addition, if you read my article (or others) there is a link to an interview she gave to the New York Times in which she really does sound like a throwback. In short, if those businesses associated with her choose to sever their association that is their right. Her “homespun folksiness” was her chief selling point and that image has been tarnished. It isn’t up to you to anyone else to put her in the same category as someone who may or may not have said ugly things. She is a celebrity, a public person, and as such her words are far less private than most other people’s. Therefore the standards for her behavior in public will be scrutinized in a way yours or mine won’t. Look at Brittney Spears or Mel Gibson or dozens of other celebrities who have gotten into hot water by bad, sometimes very bad, behavior. Some have recovered and others have not. Deen’s journey will be her own. By the way, her ‘mistake” was not made years ago….. the lawsuit talks about things that happened recently and the NYTimes interview was last year. She is NOT being vilified for just one ugly word. Did you even read her comments re black men as waiters? Or her apologia for her ancestors slaveholding? This has raised, as Lezlie has said here and I have said in my own writing, crucial issues about race and class, issues which we do not discuss. The very sad thing is that many of her supporters seem to dismiss completely her saying the word (she admitted it, after all, and “apologized,” sort of, for it) as it is a word EVERYONE uses. Well, everyone doesn’t. Not at all. But it says a lot about race relations in this country.

    • A Hufstetler

      Wow, bitterness just permeates in everything you say. It does not MATTER that she is in the public eye. It makes her more of a target. Just read the article I referred earlier, then would love to hear your comment. Oh, by the way? Where are you from?

    • Marti Teitelbaum

      Well said. I’m amazed at the amount of twisting & turning people go to in order to justify supporting her.
      30 years ago, a friend of my (now) husband came in and used racist language to describe the guy who had just sideswiped her car. I didn’t excuse it from his friend 30 years ago and I don’t excuse it from Deen now.

  • Lisa Solod

    Not a bit bitter. Not at all. And yes it does matter that she is in the public eye. People who are in the public eye give up a certain amount of privacy. Please, do some reading. if the lawsuit is unfounded Ms Jackson will lose. But Deen has put herself out there and it is entirely possible to form opinions of her that are opposite to yours without being called “bitter.” I am the farthest thing from it. I maintained in my article and still do that the larger issues surrounding this are those of race and class. You may choose to ignore that. I know Lezlie tried to calmly explain things to you but she gave up. I shall too but I won’t allow you call me bitter simply because I disagree with you. If that is as good as you have… then I think we are through. And by the way, you do not have to respond to EVERY comment about Deen. We all know your bias and your feelings. You have made it clear and will listen to nothing else. And where I am from is really none of your business. Nor is my race nor my religion nor my politics.

    • A Hufstetler

      Sure it does. Have a nice evening!

  • koshersalaami

    A Hufstetler,
    I read the piece. If all this is about is her using the N word a quarter of a century ago, as I said above, I agree. Not enough of an issue for this reaction.

    The author talked about who was forgiven, like Anthony Weiner. Not so forgiven. Those who cared still care.

    In reading something you said earlier, of course the word was said in a context of disrespect. No other conclusion can reasonably be drawn. The implication in the statement was that the attacker’s race contributed to the attack. What you claimed about it illustrates the problem…

    There are two ways to play this:

    1. Emphasize Ms. Deen’s distance from the action.

    2. Attempt to defend the action.

    #1 works. #2 leads to either public relations death or public relations racist backlash. Or a bit of both.

    My advice to both you and her is Stick with #1.

    That piece you sent me to: On what grounds did she defend Ms. Deen?

    Distance. Not “it was OK,” but “it was a long time ago. People change. Look at George Wallace.”

    The problem here is that Ms. Deen said some things that led some people to conclude that maybe she hadn’t changed enough, and her employees said things that reinforced that.

    Now, I am not claiming that all the shots taken at her have anything to do with that; a lot of the shots use that confession as an excuse, nothing else. Some of these shots are shots that are probably a cross between culture and economics. I do not condone those shots.

    But the illegitimacy of some of these attacks doesn’t mean they all are. I’m not hearing:

    “I used to be an idiot, I outgrew it, and I’m sorry if I hurt anyone.”

    What I’m hearing sounds more like:

    “Why is everyone making such a big deal out of something that everyone around me said back then?”

    It’s really, really easy:

    Because nothing in that question says “I was wrong.”

    If she’d said that, right up front, I doubt all this would have happened to her.

    Strategem #2.

  • Honey booboo

    Really? You say that’s how a southerner could support Paula? How offensive is that to all people in the south? Oh, and how do you explain Paula being uneducated, but she sold real estate? You have to be educated in real estate to obtain a real estate license. They don’t just hand those out. Most of these stories about her are so biased, it’s hard to believe they are about racism.

  • THIS IS TO PAULA…STOP THE APOLOGIES .YOU’VE DONE IT ALREADY THATS ENOUGH..THE MEDIA IS TEARING YOU APART…BET A 5 DOLLAR BILL THERE IS NOT ONE PERSON WALKING OR READING THIS THAT HAS NOT USED THE “N” WORD IN THEIR LIFETIME…AND PROBABLY MORE THAN ONCE…AS FOR THE LAWSUIT, IT SHOULD BE THROWN OUT AS A FRIVILOUS CASE..I WORKED IN THE PUBLIC FOR MAY YEARS AND HEAR ALL KIND OF JOKES..MY PET PEEVE OF THIS IS THE USE OF FILTHY LANGUAGE..AND I STATED SO..AS FOR RACIAL SLURS WHO HASN’T SAID IT EITHER RE,YELLOW,BLACK AND WHITE…GOD IS COLOR BLIND AND WE SHOULD BE TOO…I SINCERELY HOPE PAULAS SUPPORTERS REFUSE TO BUY FROM THE “RACIST” COMPANIES THAT ARE STONING HER…THEY CARELESS WHAT LANGUAGE SHE USES…ONLY THEIR MONEY…WHAT A LOSS FROM THE NETWORKS…MARTHA WHITE GOT A GOING OVER…LOOK NOW..SHES ON TOP AGAIN..HOLD YOUR HEAD UP PAULA AND KEEP IT UP..YOU ARE IN OUR PRAYERS…

    • I have never used.the n word ever there were certain words my parents taught me not to say and I have not I live in a place where I still hear the word used in a racist way almost daily. My dental assistant told me her tanned white son was as dark as an n. In my life I have said many stupid or inappropriate things for which I have suffered the consequences we are each accountable for our own actions. I am very happy there were no digital cameras when I was in college. In the end we all own our words.

  • Steve Nolan

    Anne Rice on her facebook: I don’t believe in economic boycotts to pressure people out of their beliefs or opinions. I believe in reasonable persuasion and taking action when people break the law. I am a respecter of what I see as our American traditions. Economic boycotts are an effort to destroy people who hold different opinions. I associate them with McCarthyism and blacklisting.

    In other words, she believes in elitism and that a person’s value is linked to the size of their bank account. She also believes in fairy tales, but does not believe in personal responsibility. Anne Rice is just embarrassing herself, the same as she did with those silly costumes and that egotistical rant review of her own book. Or when she attacked that poor guy that lived next to her. Did she use reasonable persuasion with him, or did she try to drive him out of business by sending flyers to his neighbors? She is a hypocrite and most likely a bigot herself, that is the real reason she is in such a knot over Deen. She surrounds herself with sycophants, it won’t change the truth. Intelligent readers once looked up to her, but now we are embarrassed to admit we read her. She recently said Bon Jovi would make the perfect Lestat, please. No wonder Hollywood shuns her, she is mainstream, lame, and willfully ignorant.

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