Paula Deen has cooked up a fine mess these days.
Then again, as President Harry S. Truman stated so eloquently, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
The Food Network already has thrown Deen out of their kitchen, and Smithfield Foods announced it was dropping her as a spokeswoman. Numerous corporations from Wal-Mart to Sears to J.C. Penney and Walgreen cut ties with her, as well as Caesars buffet restaurants. And don’t worry, there will be other repercussions.
All of this because Deen, a 66-year-old child of the segregated South, admitted she used the N-word while testifying under oath during a deposition as part of a lawsuit.
All of this again brings us to Frank Sinatra. And again we focus on Sinatra’s black valet, George S. Jacobs.
Jacobs, who served as Sinatra’s valet from 1953 to 1968, wrote a book, with author William Stadiem, titled, “Mr. S: My Life with Frank Sinatra,” released in 2004. The book included several instances of Sinatra’s views on race.
Flip to the bottom of Page 55. The passage from Jacobs reads: “… Being black was never discussed, nor did it seem to be considered. He (Sinatra) never used the ‘N’ word, except to complain that someone like (movie producer) Sam Spiegel was ‘treating him like a nigger …’”
If that paragraph circulated today with Mr. S alive, the iconic singer would be publicly excoriated to no end.
Gregory A. Tyson Sr., a black pastor at First Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church from Deen’s home base in Savannah, Ga., quickly rushed to her defense. Tyson told television station WTOC: “People are going to jump on it and believe what they want to believe and add what they want to add. But one thing I can sit here today and look you in the face and tell you is that woman can’t be a racist. She can’t have a heart against black people with all that she had done, and all she continues to do.”
Though her ardent fans and inside supporters, such as Pastor Tyson, have expressed outrage that Deen has been publicly flogged, others, we notice, always seem to catch a pass. The pastor offered an insightful point when he responded to a question regarding his thoughts about Deen’s admission of using the N-word:
Who gets that aforementioned pass? The gangsta rappers. They are the albatross that chokes the necks of many logically thinking black folk of goodwill. They are the burden of free-thinking black folk. Still, few in the black community would dare touch them, even though they drop the N-word in their lyrics like rain dropping out of a cool, gray sky.
How can a black person logically, morally and ethically condemn Paula Deen for using the N-word without doing the same to the gangstas. In good conscience, no less. How can that be on your conscience, no less?
So, don’t lambaste Paula Deen, then rush to the music stores or download Internet songs en masse to line the pockets of the gangstas.
In the 1960s during the civil rights movement, gangsta rap lyrics infested with the N-word would have been repudiated.
Many black folk in this country are reluctant to speak out against N-word using gangsta rappers because of this warped logic: At least young black dudes are making much money for doing something legal. Some will say, well … at least he isn’t dead or imprisoned for 50 years, so let him do the gangsta-rap thing. Give them a hall pass, some say.
Yes, that’s how low the bar is these days. Many ignorant, stupid and/or impressionable youth take their cues from the gangstas. Bingo — that’s when the situation becomes problematic.
If it’s good enough for the gangstas, then it should be good enough for Paula Deen.
Gregory Clay is assistant sports editor for McClatchy-Tribune News Service, 700 12th St. NW, Suite 1000, Washington, D.C. 20005; email: gclaymctinfo.com.