34 Comments

  1. Kay S. said:

    Having grown up a generation before you, also in the deep South, segregation and the n-word were also part of my reality. Except for the dear woman who ironed for my mom, I did not even know a black person. All that changed when I went to college. AND I CHANGED. As I made friends, I came to understand that we are all the same. I now have many dear friends who are of various races. There is a mixed-race person in our extended family. I have also come a long way, and it feels good.

    As for Paula Deen, I believe she is being attacked for some other reason. Matt Lauer went after her like a rabid dog, yet much worse is defended by him if it comes from a liberal. Paula is right: Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone. Although she isn’t my favorite personality, I support her. Quit the self-righteousness Food Network, Matt Lauer and all the other haters.

    June 26, 2013
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    • I’m big on forgiveness, for reasons revealed here. But actions must follow words, and I hope Ms. Deen is ready to show the media she’s sincere.

      June 26, 2013
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  2. I don’t even know anything about what went down with Paula Deen. And you know what, I don’t care about her. I’ll just address your part of things.

    I agree there is much work that needs to be done on all sides of this discourse. I’m tired of “tolerance.” I want civility. How about acceptance and love? I don’t come from a perfect family. We all have that aunt or uncle who says hateful things, but we don’t have to become that person.

    I try not to judge people by their words because sometimes people say stooopid things. But if someone says something repeatedly? I will call them on it. Always. Lisha, I know your heart. And when you say you have made a change in your heart and in your lexicon, I know it is so. I wish everyone was so self-reflective.

    June 26, 2013
    Reply
    • Thank you, sweet Renee. :-) Believe me, I am the queen of the kingdom of Saying Stooopid Things. I try to practice the advice I give my kids, to own my mistakes. Denying them or rationalizing them does nothing. Owning them — putting them out there for the world to see and call by their right name — that is how you transcend them. Self-reflection can be exhausting, but it’s very cathartic.

      June 26, 2013
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      • It’s not just your words, of course. It’s your actions, too. I know that you are all about acts of love and kindness, Lish. You have atoned for the sins of the past. Truly.

        June 27, 2013
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  3. Kelly Piper said:

    I understand this completely. I would like to think that everyone can say that they have grown into a better person. But I am sure that some have not. We just have to keep growing and becoming better then what our past has been.

    June 26, 2013
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    • Yes, Kelly, that’s it exactly. We all learn things that often need to be unlearned. I’m grateful to the people in my life who helped form me, both the bad and the good. And I’m very happy with the person I am now. Thanks for the kind words.

      June 26, 2013
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  4. Lisha, oh Lisha. I want to give you a big hug. The south isn’t easy. As the lone Jewish girl living in a small southern town I saw how the bigotry and racism shaded much of the land. I’ve seen it from all sides. What changed our immediate family was my parents moving us out of the country. From that distance we began to see the beauty of diversity.

    June 26, 2013
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    • Had I not left Louisiana I’m not sure I would be the person I am today. Change from within seems to go at an evolutionary pace. I needed face-slapping reality check that I got when I moved away.

      And thanks for the hug.

      June 26, 2013
      Reply
  5. This is a brave blog. I’m really glad you wrote it. I think we’re all forgiven, and united as people really calls for a huge dose of atonement, by all, and for all.

    Lots of love.

    June 26, 2013
    Reply
    • I did not feel very brave writing it. I felt frightened. But as you well know, my friend, only by acknowledging the past can we be free of it.

      And I’m big on forgiveness. For my heart knows all too well how in need of it I am myself. Thanks for visiting, El. Thanks for the unwavering support.

      June 26, 2013
      Reply
  6. There’s so much here, I won’t even try to comment on all of it. Mostly, your choice to disclose your past self and to talk about the ways it changed you feels authentic to me, because you have clearly put life to your words. By living in the military, you were exposed to diversity, and you carried that into your personal life. I would like very much to know if Paula Deen could say the same. Who are her friends? Who are her employees? I would be disgusted to hear her use the “I can’t be racist, I have black friends everywhere” argument, but I would like to see her not just say how sorry she is for the person she was, but indicate that she’s not just sorry it cropped up now.

    My husband and I actually had a great discussion about this very topic this morning over breakfast. I can’t find anywhere to show how long ago “a long time” is for her. If she means the 60’s and 70’s, there are cultural implications of the kind you note. It wouldn’t mean she was right by any means, but it would suggest that she could have recognized the wrong and changed on her own. But we’re living in 2013. Technically, 1993 was 20 years ago, even though I swear it only happened yesterday. What if her “long time ago” is then? That would make a difference to my opinion.

    There’s also the American love of skewering celebrities. She’ll be old news in a couple of months, just like Lance Armstrong before her.

    June 26, 2013
    Reply
    • “If she means the 60′s and 70′s, there are cultural implications of the kind you note. It wouldn’t mean she was right by any means, but it would suggest that she could have recognized the wrong and changed on her own…” Absolutely. There is no excuse other than bigotry to maintain such values past the 1970s. Our sensitivities have transcended that time in history, and we all know better. Some choose to still behave that way, but we all know right from wrong now.

      And I’ll be taking bets that the Kardashians will knock Paula out of the Yahoo news ticker before long.

      June 26, 2013
      Reply
  7. said:

    so i’m in tears. literally. here’s the thing. i’m 40. I grew up in a south suburb of Chicago where only white people would dare to ever step foot in. I used the N-word. more than once as a sh*t of a kid. my parents used the word. racism very much surrounded me growing up. ready for the silver lining?? I married a black man. crazy eh? I mean. it’s so crazy to me considering where I came from. the result of our marriage is the most gorgeous, sweet, loving little girl this world will ever lay their eyes upon. truth.

    June 26, 2013
    Reply
    • Christina, hatred is a learned behavior. Love is genuine. I’m so happy the content of your heart was stronger than the messages you were taught by others. Your daughter is a lucky girl. :-)

      EDIT: I just hopped over to your blog. She is, indeed, insanely cute!

      June 26, 2013
      Reply
  8. I am in the Deep South — Alabama. I was born and raised here and there are many things about my Southern Heritage that I am proud of. Racism is not one of them. I am the generation after you, born in the 70’s and the N-word was common in the rural South even in my lifetime. However, I was blessed and fortunate to have been born in a military town. And even more blessed to have attended a multicultural church with my family and attend the high school designated for the military base where I made friends of all kinds. Race was a non-issue for me and I have always found the N-word highly offensive thanks to how I was raised. That being said, I know many who were raised before me, differently than me, when multiculturalism was not avoided, it just simply wasn’t around. Just as I as taught that there is no difference and given examples time and time again of how that was true, they were taught that they were somehow better.
    Everyone who rushes to judgement of Paula Deen seems to assume that she was raised where they were, when they were, where they were — she wasn’t. I am not condoning her behavior (I, like you, find her a bit much to take), but I do realize that her use of that word does not mean the same thing to her as it does to the rest of the world. That doesn’t change how it effects others, just that it doesn’t carry the weight for her as it does for everyone else. Her attitude, at least to me, demonstrates this. she has said that it was a long time ago, that it was taken out of context, that she used it to describe a criminal, or that she was just repeating conversations from among her staff. Everything she has said was to make “us” see the use of the word as she saw it — inconsequential and unimportant. She believes that she has been targeted because someone wanted what she worked so hard to earn. Perhaps. But she gave them the ammunition that they needed to get it. As for the loss of her contracts and endorsements, that’s just business y’all. Her actions have consequences and for someone like her, the price she will pay will be steep.

    June 26, 2013
    Reply
    • I understand exactly how she used it, because I used to use it in exactly the same way. As a condescending term to describe something I was better than. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life correcting that behavior, in my actions and in my words. All from a place so deep in the South I can smell the Gulf of Mexico from my yard when the wind is from the south.

      In reality, the impetus for this probably was a disgruntled employee. But she gave them everything they needed to go after her. The responsibility for her actions falls on her shoulders. And, yes, that’s business, y’all.

      June 26, 2013
      Reply
      • I hope I didn’t give the impression that I in any way condomed her behavior (because I don’t) I find it highly offensive. I was just trying to point out that her attitudes towards that word were based on a different time.
        To me, the way that she has handled this whole thing is just as offensive if not more so. As you so bravely pointed out in your post, people grow, mature, & change. The fact that Ms. Deen’s apologies thus far have been in the vein of “I’m sorry if you’re offended” more than “I deeply regret my past attitudes & behavior but they are my past” or something more along those lines. Perhaps this experience will be her epiphany.

        June 26, 2013
        Reply
  9. Great, honest post, Lisha. I agree with what others have said, that I admire the depth of your self-reflection and compassion, and your ability to change something you didn’t like about yourself–because you could. So many people just go with “well, that’s just the way I am” or “that’s how I was raise” or “that’s all I’ve known”, and for them, that’s the long and short of it-no change necessary. We ALL have the ability to do what’s right in a wrong world, it simply takes courage. I think you are an amazing example! XOXO-Kasey

    June 26, 2013
    Reply
    • “We all have the ability to do what’s right in a wrong world…” That says it all. The South of my childhood formed the young me, but my conscience formed the grown-up me. Thank you, Kasey.

      June 26, 2013
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      • So glad you listened to it :). I wish more people would instead of just going with what they know. It’s so important to be tuned into what’s speaking inside of us and not be afraid to follow our intuition. Lots of love, Kasey

        June 28, 2013
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  10. said:

    I appreciate your story and you tell it well. Too bad Paula Deen didn’t have the same epiphany a long time ago. Attitudes like Paula Deen’s don’t fly well with me, the mom in a very multicultural family. Not sad about her departure from the airwaves.

    June 26, 2013
    Reply
    • Epiphany is the perfect word for what I experienced. A sudden realization of great truth. And that truth changed me forever. Thanks for the comment, Jan. Hope to see you around these parts again. :-)

      June 26, 2013
      Reply
  11. What an awesome post! As a far-northerner who grew up on the opposite end of the mighty Mississippi in the early 70s in a small town with only one non-white family, I never heard the n-word used. So this was very enlightening for me to read. We have plenty of things up here that we need absolution from – you are definitely forgiven. I say things quite often that I realize too late are offensive. Just this afternoon I was reminding myself to think very carefully before I say anything at the BBQ our family was going to. And I don’t have any cultural biases that cause it – just my running mouth! I am so glad you have changed, and it is encouraging to me that I can grow and change too!

    June 26, 2013
    Reply
    • Hi, Heather! Thanks for the kind words. To say that I’m big on forgiveness would be an understatement. Because no matter how big or small our transgressions are, transcending them should be our goal.

      July 17, 2013
      Reply
  12. said:

    A beautiful post. If Deen had shown a mere fraction of the humility and grace displayed in this post, she’d be fine. Instead, she “is what she is” and wants to put the onus on whoever is without sin to cast a stone at her. The fact is that the word was used to degrade — to strip the identity and value from — an entire race of people, and it’s not as though she’s displayed any real remorse for its use. I don’t feel bad for what is happening to her, but I am very thankful for this blog entry. Have a good day.

    June 27, 2013
    Reply
    • ikaisha, your kind words mean a great deal to me. I’ve learned that we must all deal with our own sins, without making them relative to the sins of others.

      Thank you for stopping by. I hope to see you around again. :-)

      July 17, 2013
      Reply
  13. life is a journey and it’s as long as it is short. we all make mistakes, as long as we just keep learning and growing and understanding. this was a brave and honest post.

    June 27, 2013
    Reply
    • Yes, it is, icescreammama. Life, I mean. I’m really big on forgiveness, and I believe we receive forgiveness in the same manner we give it. Thanks for visiting, and thank you for the kind words.

      July 17, 2013
      Reply
  14. Charleenemorgan said:

    Very well said Lisha. We have all said it, but I haven’t in a very long time. It is time for the public to leave Paula alone. What is said that long ago can’t be undone. Prayers for her and family.

    June 28, 2013
    Reply
    • Thank you, Charleene. It’s us now between Ms. Deen and her conscience. I hope she can find the peace she needs to move forward.

      July 17, 2013
      Reply
  15. Hi, Lisha! I nominated you for the Very Inpsiring Blogger Award. Visit my last post “Inspiring Minds Want to Know” to pick it up and read the instructions. Love ya! XOXO-Kasey

    July 10, 2013
    Reply

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