The voice of Amanda


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Paula Deen

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3480720

Paula Deen has been all over the news. I see memes and comments from people in online forums about how she should be forgiven for something she said “30 years ago” (referencing her admitting to using the N word when robbed at gunpoint). As more and more surfaces about her, it’s clear her attitude towards race is not exactly up to date. Yes she was raised in a “different generation.” So were my parents. My dad is from the south. A bunch of my family still lives in the south. Are some of them racist? Unfortunately so. So what’s the big deal with Paula Deen?

This lady is all about her southern image and upbringing. She has worked up to a point of celebrity, a feat which surely wasn’t easy. I have to admit, I’ve watched her show and giggled, joking with my boyfriend about our dinner needing “more butter, y’all.” She isn’t just a chef. She’s a brand. Her brand depends on the support of big business who carries her show and products. Those big businesses (who also have their own flaws as many online discussions brought up) do not want to be associated with someone who appears to be racist. So there go some of her backers.

“But rappers use the N word all the time!” Okay. I’ve heard black people calling each other the N word, sometimes with good connotation, sometimes bad. Why is it allowed for them to call each other that word? Because they don’t have a history of enslaving another race and using the term to belittle and humiliate. As with other slurs, the word has been reappropriated to take the power from white society. Women have taken the C word and worked to turn the power away from men using it in a similar fashion. Do these words still hurt? I think so, but they are given as much power as one lets them. Not all black people get offended at the use of the N word. But some do, making it offensive as a whole to use that slur.

With Paula Deen, her attitude has not really conveyed much emotion beyond her own personal grief at losing so much. Even news anchors and experts talked about the lack of sincerity within her Today show appearance. She tried to justify her use of the word, but that means she doesn’t feel guilt about using it. Therein lies the problem. It also comes back to comments she has made more recently (see video above) that outline her dated view on race issues in America.

She can be seen as a role model because she is heavily in the public eye. I think it’s good that Americans are talking race issues in light of this whole debacle because it is something that isn’t resolved in our country. There are still people using racial slurs about our first black president. There are still far more minorities in prisons than whites. There are schools that only recently held racially integrated functions (http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3480720).

Paula Deen had a moment to make a stand against racism, but she chose to stand only for herself. I don’t feel sympathy for her or her crumbling brand.

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The safety of being online?

In the news: a teenager facing jail time for making the “sarcastic” comment “oh yeah, I’m real messed up in the head, I’m going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts.” He is looking at 8 years for “terroristic threats.”

How it went down: This 18 year old, Justin Carter, was talking to another gamer online. A comment from another gamer called Justin “insane, crazy, messed up in the head,” eliciting his inappropriate response. An outsider following the conversation reported it to police, obviously feeling it merited more than just a shrug.

This has gotten lots of responses from people online, mainly criticizing Obama (okay?) and our government over reacting. It’s funny because after a tragedy people wonder why nobody had done anything when signs pointed to odd behavior. Maybe this kid would never shoot up a school. Maybe he is just a punk. He’s obviously stupid to make a comment like this only two months after Sandy Hook. It is not only distasteful, but truly could be seen as threatening.

Carter’s father defends his son by saying he doesn’t watch the news or read newspapers. I don’t think that ignorance is the best defense, plus he clearly knew what he was insinuating.

So do I think he needs 8 years in prison? That seems a bit much if he has zero priors and undergoes a psych evaluation. I don’t think that we should turn the other way because someone claims to be sarcastic when making disgusting remarks. Someone who says them really means it and as we have learned, it’s easier to do something when the words are first spoken then after a tragedy occurs.


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Progress

Today made me hopeful. It also made me sad to see the work still yet to be done. DOMA is dead, as is Prop 8, making a step forward in equality. Crazies who are behind the times will always pop up (see http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/5-craziest-reactions-high-courts-marriage-equality-rulings) but the majority of people are moving forward with a logical society (on this topic).

Then there is Texas. I got into some debates with people (yet again) on the issue of abortion. Texas is idiotic if they shut down clinics across the state. If the past showed us anything, women will still find ways to eliminate unwanted pregnancies, but at a much greater risk to themselves. I was also sickened by the men and women who likened pregnant ladies to a “vessel for the next generation” and said that they no longer mattered- only the fetus in them. Yikes. That’s a whole mess of crazy that reason will never penetrate. Hopefully those in power will do the right thing, but that’s offering a lot of credit for Texas Republicans. They need more people like Wendy Davis.

So I’m celebrating the victories and hoping for more to come.


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My personal problems with guns

I haven’t written much lately, mainly because I’ve had a lot on my mind to sort through. Gun violence happens in the news every day, but this last month brought it knocking on my door twice.

A family friend named Colleen was murdered last month in her own home as she opened the door to a neighbor who intentionally sought to kill her because he detected “evil” coming off her. This man had been arrested in 2009 for attacking a female neighbor he thought was a molesting vampire. After shooting Colleen twice, he went on the news, publicly calling the murderer an animal and described Colleen as a good person who was a friend and neighbor for 20 years. News reports are saying this man is a schizophrenic who decided not to take his meds anymore. He lived with his mother. He had previously been institutionalized. His deceased father was an arms dealer, which is most likely how he obtained his cache of weapons.

Obviously this story has several moments that all added up to the tragic death of Colleen, a dedicated single mother to a highly autistic 15 year old son. This man clearly had a mental disorder that was not being addressed. His mother did nothing to help him, though his prior behavior indicated he was unstable. His mother also allowed him access to weapons, which means she should additionally be held responsible for the death of Colleen. People say we need to address how mental health his handled in our country. This is true, but something everyone can do right now to cut gun deaths is making sure weapons are locked away in the home, out of reach from children and unstable family members. Ammunition can also be stored separately from the weapon.

In our gun culture, some folks look at rights and lose sight of common sense. Yes, one can own a gun, but that comes with the responsibility of the lives put at risk if that gun is not stored and handled properly. The second amendment isn’t a free pass.

This murder made me see the dark side of the gun debate in people I know. I posted an article with the acknowledgment that gun culture is fucked up in our society. I got some responses that had nothing to do with saying “sorry for your loss” or “I understand this must be difficult, but…” I get that this is my opinion and others don’t see why I am in favor of expanded background checks, mandated safety training, harsher penalties for unlawful sales, etc, but at least have the decency to recognize that somebody I care about was shot to death before launching into a pro-second amendment rant. Humanity comes before gun rights, and if that isn’t clear, maybe someone in the conversation has lost their shit and shouldn’t own a gun anyway.

The second news-worthy gun attack happened at Santa Monica College, close to where I live. An unstable man killed his family, then went on a shooting spree through the streets of Los Angeles. This happened blocks from where I work. He shot up a bus that I ride. Someone I know was in the library when he came in shooting.

Did you hear about this story? Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you already forgot about it. These tragedies shouldn’t be so common place that a new gun spree out-shadows the one that happened a few weeks ago. This is further proof that our society needs to make an effort to change.