When I look at Paula Deen, I see my mother. In a world filled with terrorism, war, and economic instability, Paula offered the nation comfort in the form of traditional southern decadence: sugar, butter, and lard. Deen brought an unassuming, uniquely American approach to the often pretentious world of culinary art. Yet despite representing a traditional maternal figure to many Americans, we sat back, powerless as she was systemically extorted, distorted, and discarded without any opportunity for defense. That is a real war on women, and America should be ashamed.
A product of the quaint, eccentric city of Savannah Georgia, Paula was not the brainchild of some Hollywood consulting firm, but rather, a small business owner who happened upon success. Years ago, during the filming of a popular movie, a network executive dined in Paula’s restaurant and became enchanted with her authentic approach. He helped launch her first cook book, and the rest was history.
Leading up to her infamous lawsuit, Paula was contacted by the attorney of her brother’s employee, Lisa Jackson. Jackson, a white woman, worked at Uncle Bubba’s, a restaurant co-owned by Paula and her brother. The attorney instructed Paula to settle with Jackson for $1.25 million or else Jackson would bring damaging details into the public forum regarding the “culture” of racial and sexual discrimination at the restaurant. He went on to threaten that if Paula did not comply, the lawsuit would “permanently and irreparably damage her brand.”
In other words, Paula was extorted while the world sat idly by. The mere accusation of racism was enough to cripple a 10 year, multi-million dollar career. Paula was dragged before an inquiry board and asked the equivalent of “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party.” The answers didn’t matter. She was convicted in the court of public opinion before she even began.
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