This year we mark the half-century since The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. How’s that going for us? Let’s take recent stock.
In June, Paula Deen, "bless her heart," as her fellow southerners would say, imploded, reminding us that years of stove-top simmering can produce a mighty bitter aftertaste. Paula is in her 60s and arguably a product of her upbringing. I’ve talked to enough different kind of folk from teen to octogenarian, black, white and brown to know that about half of you rolled your eyes and took potshots, ahem, used cooking puns and laughingly dismissed the episode. A few that were either too young or too cooking-challenged responded with, “Paula Who?’ And the rest asked, “Don’t we have serious issues to obsess over?”
I don’t have to go into all the particulars because it was a huge story. I mean it got arms and legs that traveled for the rest of the month and then some. I don’t know why we carry on in the pop culture realm about these things. The general rule for celebs and other famous people tempted to speak of that word "on the record" should be: Don’t do it!!! Or, "Leave that word be," as old-timers might say.
Because nowadays you’re covered no matter where you utter the n-word. Somebody will document it. Don’t believe me? Ask Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, a Millennial of all people, who made his explosive YouTube debut spewing out the n-word in public. Apparently he wasn’t quite ready for some football, and in his pre-preseason downtime at a country music concert in Philly during a “confrontation,” as he termed it, decided to hurl the epithet at a performance hall security guard that happened to be African American. Riley’s tirade was immediately captured by someone from the predominantly white audience on a cell phone video camera and released to the Interwebs. Pow and ouch! At the beginning of his apology tour, Riley did the obligatory predictable mea culpa to his teammates and the rest of the Eagles organization. Blah blah blah.
(You want to see the viral vile video you’re going to have to dig it out of the the Web's bowels on your own. This blogger prefers to show another not-so-popular though more poignant clip that got my attention.) Riley Cooper apologizes
It's from Riley's first press conference following the YouTube fallout. He characterized his parents’ reaction when he notified them of his misstep and his words produced a spark of hope. “I was raised better than that. I've got a great mom and dad at home, and they are extremely extremely disappointed…I was raised way better than that, and they are disgusted by my actions.”
Yes, I believed he was not raised that way. The word is offensive across the racial divide.