Paula Deen’s empire seems to be crumbling faster and faster. After losing Walmart, Smithfield Foods, Novo Nordisk, and her Food Network show, Paula was probably hoping the week would just end and spare her any more bloodletting. But today Sears Holdings announced that they were also cutting Paula’s apron strings. That lost her Sears and Kmart. And before the day was over, Walgreen Co. also piled on.
Paula Deen’s admission in a deposition that she had once used the “n-word” (not “non-stick”; the other one), has caused a landslide that sent business partners running from her even faster than Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” branding.
Pundits are more divided over this issue than the Trayvon Martin case that runs parallel with it this week. While the Zimmerman killing of Martin should come down to an evidence-based consideration of whether or not one man killed another man without good reason, the Deen case is all about the court of public opinion right now. The civil suit against her and her brother will come later.
One of the Deen quotes that her detractors hang around her neck a lot is when she was asked if she had ever used the “n-word”. She answered, “Yes, of course. (But) it’s been a very long time.”
That “of course” has been read as some clouded understanding on Deen’s part that it should be expected that people would use that word. But one of the people who has weighed in on the matter is the former president of the Cleveland County, North Carolina chapter of the NAACP. Willie McIntosh points out that Deen is 66 years old, and she grew up in Georgia during the Jim Crow era. To think that she might not have ever used the “n-word” is silly.
“Any time you use racial slurs or derogatory remarks about anyone, I think that’s wrong,” he said. “But to think no one has ever said any of those words would be naïve. No one but Deen knows how sorry she truly feels, but all anyone can do is take her remorse at face value.”
So far, few people seem to have been willing to do so. Businesses are running from her, at least for now.