The Demise of Paula Deen's American Dream

Colorlines' Imara Jones examines Paula Deen's wayward American dream, saying that what actually melted the Butter Queen was not her flagrant use of the n-word but her often-stated desire to return to the legal ownership of blacks, which made her family rich.

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Paula Deen (Slavin Vlasic/Getty Images)

What actually sank Paula Deen's wayward American dream was not her flagrant use of the n-word but her often-stated desire to return to the legal ownership of blacks, which made her family rich, Imara Jones contends in a blog post at Colorlines.

Deen's plantation wishes and mint julep dreams burst back into public consciousness on June 19. That's when the transcript of her out-of-court testimony in a racial and sexual harassment discrimination lawsuit against the former Food Network star was released by the National Enquirer. During the course of questioning, Deen admitted to using the N-word on several occasions.

But had it stopped and started there, the firestorm might have blown over. As Lisa Jackson, the white woman who brought the suit against Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers said earlier this week, "This has never been about the N-word."

What's actually sunk Deen is her often stated desire to return to the days of the legal ownership of blacks from which her family got rich. Deen gives us two dramatic examples, but there are many others.

According to the transcript, Deen recounted an idea that she had come up with for a Southern plantation wedding replete with "slaves" dressed up in formal serving attire. She envisaged black men resplendent in white coats and black ties catering to guests' every need.

Deen said that the idea was sparked by her visit to a restaurant that represented a "certain America before the Civil War" that was "impressive." The pretend slaves, as she tells it, "not only black men, [but] women too" were "beautiful."

Read Imara Jones' entire blog entry at Colorlines.

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