The celebrity chef, Paula Deen, has stirred up another public discussion about race. She admitted to using the N-word when managing her restaurants and has suggested a plantation themed wedding for her brother, complete with well-dressed black servers. Although she awkwardly apologized by saying she’s just from another time, her cooking show was dropped from The Food Network.
What is typically missed in public dustups like this centering on the use of racial epitaphs is that it is not relevant whether the person intended to offend. Rather, it is important to see that the usage of epitaphs is harmful because doing so sustains a disrespectful cultural image of the targeted group. In this case, it maintains a degrading picture of black people in the public imagination.
Here’s the New York Times story on the racial conversation surrounding this controversy.